Ruf Records turned 20 in late 2014. A lot has changed in rock ‘n’ roll since 1994. We’ve seen a thousand bands rise and fall. We’ve watched a hundred rock scenes blow up and burn out. All the while, Ruf has steadily evolved, from its roots as one man’s vision, to the most respected blues/rock label around, with a roll-call of talent to top any independent on the planet. And if that sounds like a bold statement, you’re holding the proof in your hands…
Of course, Thomas Ruf didn’t expect any of those accolades back in 1994. Back then, Ruf’s charismatic founder and leader created the label simply to give the legendary Chicago bandleader Luther Allison a platform to release some of the best albums of his career. Tragically, Luther himself was lost to cancer in 1997, but Ruf Records never missed a beat, continuing to develop some of the brightest talent in America, Britain, Europe and beyond, while always retaining its fearsomely independent spirit.
Walter Trout. Royal Southern Brotherhood. Joanne Shaw Taylor. Spin Doctors. Jeff Healey. Savoy Brown. Dana Fuchs. Laurence Jones. Samantha Fish. To anyone with even a passing interest in quality blues, the Ruf roster since 1994 reads like a hall of fame, taking in legends, supergroups and bright young talents. As such, when it came to compiling this special 20th anniversary release, the songs selected by Thomas across these two CDs are all killer, no filler.
So here it is. Twenty-eight classic tracks by Ruf artists, celebrating the brightest and best Girls & Guys With Guitars to record for the label since 1994 (plus a new unreleased song from the latest addition to Ruf’s family, Eliana Cargnelutti). You’ll even find track-by-track sleeve notes written by Thomas himself, telling the true stories behind the songs and giving personal memories of the artists.
Twenty years. It’s been quite a ride, with one hell of a soundtrack. So here’s to the story so far – and the next twenty years.