on 27 October 2006
Luther Allison is regarded to be the king of contemporary blues guitar. And this album most definitely sets him up for this accolade. It is considered to be Luther's masterpiece, I heard Luther's first album before this and in some ways prefer that, but taken with 'Bad News Is Coming' Luther sits at the pinnacle of contemporary blues. Freddie King's invention and Albert King's techinical skill fuse in Luther and this album is a full on display of Luther's unique style.
Although there isnt that much original material Luther's version of blues greats is essential in itself, his homage to Freddie King and Howlin Wolf shines through but he remains incomparable. His voice is not as raw as it is on 'Bad News', but it isnt any less passionate and heated - check out his version of Willie Dixon's 'Easy Baby'. Luther's playing is intense - his scorching guitar riffs on 'Bloomington Close' and 'Have a Little Talk' are excellent.
There are a couple of dips in quality such as 'K.T' but the added material, and the live 'Thrill is gone' explores Luter's intensity.
A follow up to his 1972 debut LP "Bad News Is Coming" - Luther Allison's second album "Luther's Blues" was also released on Motown's Gordy label imprint in the USA (July 1974 on Gordy G 967V1 in this case).
The music is a bit of everything - many styles. "Luther's Blues" is a hard-hitting Blues album one moment ala Albert King - then funky as James Brown's DNA the next. And like its even grittier predecessor - because it was on a label the public associated more with Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye - its 9-track mixed bag got somehow lost in the chart stew and remains largely forgotten about today. Which is a damn shame really given the cross-the-genres musical quality on offer here (this CD is part of Universal's superb "Blues Classics - Remastered & Revisited" CD Series). Let's get to the details...
USA released in April 2001 - "Luther's Blues" by LUTHER ALLISON is on Universal/Motown 440 013 409-2 (Barcode 044001340925) and supplemented with three bonus tracks breaks down as follows (70:32 minutes):
1. Luther's Blues [Luther Allison song]
2. Someday Pretty Baby [co-write between Berry Gordy and James Woodley, a Singin' Sam Ward cover]
3. Easy Baby [written by Willie Dixon, a Magic Sam cover]
4. Part Time Love [co-write between Janie Bradford and Richard Wylie, a Singin' Sam Ward cover]
5. Now You Got It [co-write between Luther Allison, Gene Block, Gary Beam and Kenneth Miles]
6. K.T. [co-write between Luther Allison, Joseph Peraino and Benny Emerson]
7. Let's Have A Little Talk [Luther Allison song]
8. Driving Wheel [Roosevelt Sykes cover]
9. Into My Life [Luther Allison song]
10. San-Ho-Zay [Previously Unreleased Freddie King cover]
11. Bloomington Closing - Early Version [Previously Unreleased]
12. Medley: I'm Gonna Miss My Baby/Bad News/The Thrill Is Gone (Live)
"San-Ho-Zay" and "Bloomington Closing" are previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions while the three-track live medley was recorded at the Arbor Blues Festival in 1973 (also Previously Unreleased).
The Band for the Sessions was:
LUTHER ALLISON - Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Stratocaster & Slide Guitars
BOB GOODMAN and GENE BLOCK - Rhythm Guitars
PAUL WHITE - Piano and Organ [TOM CURRY on "Easy Baby" only]
BOB BABETTE and GARY BEAM - Bass Guitars
K.J. KNIGHT and ANDREW SMITH - Drums
SUHA GUR - one of Universal's top engineers - has given the remaster a fantastic quality with audio clarity on all of the tracks pumping, muscular and superbly clear.
Half of the songs are straight up blues like "Let's Have A Little Talk" where Allison lets rip his attacking licks and gritty voice in a seven-minute tour-de-force - but then there are very soulful tunes too - like "Now You Got It" and the ultra-funky "K.T.". His guitar work on the chugging Roosevelt Sykes cover of "Driving Wheel" is fabulous - screeching notes out of his plank that few other Blues men get. And like so many of these great guitarists of the genre - his power, prowess and presence is never more evident than when he's slaying the audience on that incredible 19-minute live medley.
Very tasty indeed - "Luther's Blues" is a hard-to-find vinyl album for Motown collectors and a real discovery for Blues enthusiasts on CD (and it's cheap too). Recommended like grits and groceries...
Titles in Universal's "Blues Classics Remastered & Revisited" Series:
1. Bad News Is Coming - LUTHER ALLISON (1972)
2. Luther's Blues - LUTHER ALLISON (1974)
3. Two Steps From The Blues - BOBBY BLAND (1961)
4. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - JOHN LEE HOOKER (1966 and 1991)
5. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - HOWLIN' WOLF (1966 and 1967)
6. Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions - ETTA JAMES (1968)
7. Live At San Quentin - B.B. KING (1990)
8. At Newport - MUDDY WATERS (1960)
9. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - MUDDY WATERS (1965 and 1967)
10. Fathers & Sons - MUDDY WATERS [with Paul Butterfield and Friends] (1969)
11. The Real Folk Blues/More Of The Real Folk Blues - SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON (1966 and 1967)
on 26 October 2014
BORN IN THE USA, CROSS ATLANTIC, SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED ON TIME. THIS IS AN UNUSUAL BLUES CD IN THAT, OH YES IT HAS BLUES ALL RIGHT. IT ALSO HAS SOUL AND RARE GROOVE, PERHAPS A REASON WHY IT'S SALES WERE ALLEGEDLY NOT AS DESIRED, WHICH IS A PITY BECAUSE THE CREATIVITY HERE DESERVES SO MUCH BETTER.