Many listeners might know the Illinois native Ruffner from his 1987 CBS album "Gypsy Blood," which reached the mid-80s in the Billboard charts. Subsequent roles as the opening act for the likes of Jimmy Page/Paul Rodgers and the Firm, Ringo Starr and Dave Edmunds, along with a support role on Bob Dylan's album "Oh Mercy."
The late '80s found Ruffner back in Texas without a record contract but jamming with such Texas legends as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Anson Funderburgh. Much of the '90s were spent in obscurity although he did release the CD "Evolution" in Europe only.
"You Can't Win" is the first time Ruffner has recorded with horns, which are provided diligently by Art Edmaiston (saxophone) and Scott Thompson (trumpet), as well as in Memphis.
Notable cuts include "You Got My Number," which contains a nice guitar solo from Ruffner, "Dee Blues" and the shufflin' ending track "Keep On Holding On."
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.