Sunday, November 22, 2009
Luther ALLISON - Reckless 1997
***Nominated for a GRAMMY in the category "Best Contemporary Blues Album"1997***
It's not typical for blues legends to be compared to rock stars, but guitarist/vocalist LUTHER ALLISON is not your typical blues legend. His powerful guitar work - equal parts traditional blues string-bending and wall-shaking rock 'n roll - is matched in energy only by his soul-deep vocals. His live shows (often clocking in at well over three hours) are the stuff of legend. And after releasing his album Bad Love (Ruf Records/US-release on Alligator under "Soul Fixing Man) in 1994 and Blue Streak (Ruf Records,TRIP/U.S. release on Alligator) in 1995, ALLISON is enjoying his biggest American comeback since moving to Paris in 1984. "Every guitar solo is an eloquent statement delivered with searing, lightning-quick precision", wrote The Chicago Sun Times. "Ferocious guitar licks reconnect the lines between blues and rock". On his American comeback tour, including his nationally broadcast and typically jaw-dropping set at the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival, LUTHER ALLISON announced to the world that he was not only back, he was unstoppable.
And now he has the trophies to prove it, having received every award the blues has to offer. He swept the 1996 W.C.Handy Awards with five statues, won 10 Living Blues Awards and a 1995 Indie Award, and played in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans at festivals and clubs all over the world. He appeared on the cover of Living Blues, Blues Revue, Blues Access, and was the subject of major feature stories and reviews in Guitar Player, Guitar World, and Guitar For The Practicing Musician, as well as being featured on National Public Radio's Weekend All Things Considered and The Late Show With Conan O'Brien. "LUTHER ALLISON", proclaimed Blues Revue," is the New King of the Blues."
Blasting ahead at full speed, ALLISON writes the next chapter in his amazing story with Reckless (Ruf Records, U.S. release on Alligator). Again recorded in Memphis with Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana) producing, ALLISON brings his rock guitar energy to the deep blues he performs while singing with all the passion of the great soul singers. From the opening notes of Low Down And Dirty (written by LUTHER'S son Bernard) to the rocking You Can Run But You Can't Hide to the searing Drowning At The Bottom to the socially conscious Pain In The Streets to the deep soul of Just as I am (duet with Marla Glen) to the searing slide guitar attack of I'm Back, ALLISON roars and rips through each song with the melting power of a raging fire.
Although he may be a new discovery for many fans, Allison's legend has been growing for a long time. Born in Widener, Arkansas in 1939, Allison (the 14th of 15 musically gifted children), first connected the blues at age ten when he began playing the diddley bow (a wire attached to wall with nails with rocks for bridges and a bottle to fret the wire). His family migrated to Chicago in 1951, and LUTHER began soaking in the sounds of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Robert Nighthawk. He was classmates with Muddy Water's son and occasionally stopped by Water's house to watch the master rehearse. But it wasn't until he was 18 - already in Chicago for 7 years - that he began playing blues on a real guitar and jamming with his brother Ollie's band.
By 1957 ALLISON had dropped out of school and formed a band called "The Four Jivers", gigging all over the west side of Chicago. Before long, LUTHER was jamming with the West Side's best, including Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Freddy King, who encouraged LUTHER ALLISON to sing. "That," says ALLISON "was my school."
When King began to tour nationally in 1959 ALLISON took over King's band as well as his weekly gigs at Walton's Corner and became one of the hottest acts on the West Side. For five years ALLISON honed his craft. With his reputation rock solid, ALLISON began to branch out. He moved to California for a year and cut sides with fellow Chicagoans Shakey Jake Harris and Sunnyland Slim. He cut his debut as a leader of the now - classic Delmark anthology, Sweet Home Chicago, before releasing his first solo album (also on Delmark) "Love Me Mama", a record of hardhitting blues that spoke to the growing rock audience. After landing a headlining spot at the influential Ann Arbor Festival in 1969, ALLISON went from relative unknown to major blues rock attraction. ALLISON returned to Arbor two more times, and his reputation among rock fans was solidified.
Allison signed with Motown Records in 1972 as the label's only blues act. His three records for the Gordy subsidiary led to numerous concert dates and both national and international festival appearances. But domestically, interest in the blues was fading. After finding instant acceptance in Europe, he was convinced that Paris was the place to be. While he gained superstar status in Europe (and remains the continent's biggest blues star) and released a string of European records, his presence in America subsided.
Until recently, that is. With the release of "Bad Love" ( Ruf Records/ U.S release on Alligator as "Soul Fixin' Man") in 1994, he announced his return. "Fever and chills performances", said Guitar Player, "ferocious solos combine the wisdom of a master story teller with the elegance of B.B. King, the elasticity of Buddy Guy, and the big sting of Albert King. "A scorcher from the first note to the last", raved Living Blues, "a nod to roots even as he blasts those roots out of the soil ...a creative and heartfelt blast of rocked-out blues energy." After three mammoth U.S. tours, America once again was paying attention to LUTHER ALLISON and his appearance at the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans (and an even larger national radio audience) made sure no one would soon forget.
"ALLISON was supercharged from the moment he strode on stage", said The Chicago Tribune. "His boundlessly energetic set was the most electrifying of the fest."
ALLISON followed up with "Blue Streak" (Ruf Records,TRIP/ U.S. release on Alligator)and the praise and accolades are still rolling in. "Blistering riffs ... breathtaking ... energetic", said The New York Daily News. "A sonic roar as soulful as his gospel-shout vocals," agreed The Washington Post. "LUTHER ALLISON'S latest is nothing short of a masterpiece by a master," reported Blues Revue. The album received airplay on over 500 stations nationwide and held the number one position on the Hard Report Blues chart for an unprecedented 19 weeks. Continued touring brought ALLISON before raving fans around the world, and his stature at the top of the blues world was confirmed. Recently nominated for another five W.C. Handy Awards, he could easily rest on his laurels, but that wouldn't be LUTHER ALLISON.
Reckless is another giant step forward for the slash-and-burn guitarist. His rip-roaring guitar and fervent vocals place Allison in a league of his own. Even at age 57, he's not about to slow down. With another U.S. tour already planned, Allison is prepared to spread the word that this time has indeed come and that he can rock with the best of them, playing Blues as deep as Muddy Waters and as rich as all three kings. And even though he has very little left to prove, on Reckless and in concert, LUTHER ALLISON proves it every time he picks up his guitar.
Luther Allison- Vocals, Guitar
Rick Steff- Electric Piano and Hammond B3
Dave Smith- Bass
Mike Vlahakis- Hammond B3 and Electric piano
Ken Faltinson- Bass
James Solberg- Rhtym Guitars
Lloyd Anderson- Drums
Willie Hayes- Drums
Darin James- Drums
Kurt Clayton- Electric piano
Memphis Horns, Steve Potts, Bernard Allison, Marla Glen
01.Low Down and Dirty 3:45
02.You Can Run but You Can't Hide 3:32
03.Living in the House of the Blues 5:32
04.You Can, You Can 3:42
05.Will It Ever Change? 5:09
06.Just As I Am 4:55
07.There Comes a Time 4:12
08.Drowning at the Bottom 3:54
09.Playin' a Losin' Game 5:30
10.It's a Blues Thing 5:40
11.Cancel My Check 4:19
12.Pain in the Streets 4:43
13.You're Gonna Make Me Cry 6:13
14.I'm Back 4:12