Tuesday, 7 May 2013

1972 Luther Allison - Bad News Is Coming



Luther Allison, 'Bad News Is Coming', Live Montreux 1997, 5 weeks before his death

Info: Born on the 17th of August, 1939, in Arkansas, Allison was one of 15 children from a family of cotton farmers. His love for music began as a youngster playing the organ in the local church, and this set the groundwork for his love of the blues which was helped along nicely by a family move to Chicago in his teens. Allison was a talented baseball player in his youth and following high-school in Chicago began learning the shoe-making trade, but, with the encouragement of his brother, he started to focus solely on playing the blues on electric guitar, and honing what was to become a powerful and soulful voice. Following a family move to a new neighbourhood in Chicago, Allison became best friends with one Charles Waters, Muddy Waters' son, coupled with hanging out in blues clubs, Allison's learning-curve was fast-tracked, and in 1969 he recorded his first album, Love Me Mama on the tiny Delmark record-label.

It fell upon Allison to tour extensively in order to promote his music, and he quickly became a favourite at blues festivals, his sets coming in at just under 4 hours packed with blistering guitar solos. In 1980 he moved to Paris, France, and recorded mostly live albums, but his American exodus came to an end in 1994 when he was convinced by Alligator Records owner, Bruce Iglauer, to return to his homeland and record new material. Albums such as Soul Fixin' Man (1994), Blue Streak (1995) and Reckless (1997) became huge critical and commercial successes. Allison toured heavily throughout the USA and Canada in the mid-90's, and his last concert was at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 4th, 1997, unfortunately, weeks later he would die from throat cancer, hard to believe given his vocal performance in the above video at the festival.

As for the album itself, while it only contains two originals, the title track and track 10, 'It's Been A Long Time', it could be said that the remainder of the album is an homage to Allison's personal influences and heroes. The catalogue begins with two opening tracks by Willie Dixon, 'Little Red Rooster' and 'Evil Is Going On' along with Robert Johnson's 'Sweet Home Chicago' and Elmore James' classic 'Dust My Broom' with some great slide-guitar and bopping piano playing. The great thing about this album, aside from the wonderful blues is Allison's powerful croaky vocals and energy, he really puts his own stamp on the covers and infuses them with great pace along with some amazing guitar solo improvisations. Personal favourites are 'Raggedy and Dirty','Cut You a-Loose', and 'Rock Me Baby', this album is currently for sale on www.play.com for only €7.16, brand new US Import CD.

Track Listing:

1. Little Red Rooster
2. Evil Is Going On
3. Raggedy and Dirty
4. Rock Me Baby
5. Bad News Is Coming
6. Cut You A-Loose
7. Dust My Broom
8. The Stumble
9. Sweet Home Chicago
10. It's Been a Long Time
11. Take My Love

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