Saturday, November 21, 2009
Luther ALLISON - Where Have You Been, Live in Montreux 1976-1994
This 78-minute collection from four appearances at the famed Swiss blues festival displays the varied strengths of Luther Allison's music. The tensile, screaming guitar work and squawling vocal attack Allison is known for are here, of course, but there's another layer at work. A 1984 set with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, for instance, offers the Muddy Waters-like "Back Down South" (on which Allison lays down his ax in favor of a harp), as well as the Otis Redding-style shouts of "Memories." The most intense moments come on "Bad News Is Coming" and "Bad Love" (with the Memphis Horns backing him up), when Allison pushes through to the pulse of his muse with a six-string expression of confusion and grit. They make his death in the late '90s poignant and that much more palpable.
By Rickey Wright.
Due to the fact that Chicago blues great, Luther Allison, had to flee Chicago to earn a living playing da blues, (See earlier Shaq Review!) the famed Montreux Jazz festival became his stage. Included on this CD are nothing but "live" performances from this venue covering the years 1976-1994. Every cut is great, so you can't miss with this selection, but let me point out a few extra ordinary highlights! I have heard many performances of "Little Red Rooster", and this performance by Luther is the absolute best. It is 11 minutes and 30 seconds long, and every second, is a gift. No one has ever performed "The Sky Is Crying" live, better than Stevie Ray Vaughn, and in Shaq's opinion, Albert King is second. But, this performance by Luther, highlighted with a slide guitar, is a different approach, and interestingly, enjoyable. And how "bitter sweet", must it have been, for Luther, under self-exile, in Europe, to earn a decent living, singing, "Sweet Home Chicago!" This CD is a must, for any true electric blues enthusiast!
By Rick Goldstein.
'Where have you been, LUTHER?
This live CD set is a definite answer to the questions often asked by fans and journalists during LUTHER'S triumphal 'comeback' tours through the U.S. in 1995 and 1996 (LUTHER ALLISON enjoyed a five-award triumph at the 17th annual W.C. Handy Awards, the blues world's equivalent of the Grammys: Best Blues Song -'Watching You', Best Blues Album - 'Blue Streak', Best Male Blues Artist, Best Guitarist, Best Entertainer).
'Where have you been, LUTHER?'
The answer is:
'Europe' and definitely 'working hard!'
LUTHER started working in Europe in 1976, the year Motown released his third album for the Gordy label, 'Night Life'. The very first tour began with a furious performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, six tracks of which are featured on this CD set.
In 1983, LUTHER made Paris, France his home base. He quickly attained the status of a major drawing blues act on the live circuit in Europe.
Subsequently, U.S. audiences (re) discovered him as one of the greatest blues talents performing today.
Because the Montreux Jazz Festival has always been a special event for LUTHER, this CD reflects the development of his band sound over the years.
On the '76 and '83 sets, LUTHER used his U.S. touring band; the '84 set features the legendary Muscle Shoals Rythm Section - a special event co-produced by Jerry Wexler. In accordance with the concept of Montreux and because he's one of Montreux's favourite performers, LUTHER was repeatedly invited to jam with B.B. King ('89), John Mayall ('86) and Otis Rush ('86). The '94 set features a Memphis set-up including the Memphis Horns, paying tribute to the roots of R&B and soul music.
The 1994 release of 'Bad Love' (in Europe on RUF) 'Soul Fixin'Man' (U.S. version on Alligator) marked the start of LUTHER'S U.S. 'comeback'. It was his first studio album recorded in the U.S. since his Motown album of '76, but certainly not his only recording; a look at his discography shows that LUTHER was successfully working hard in Europe.
All of us who have had the pleasure of enjoying LUTHER'S performances in Europe throughout the years, the folks in the U.S. who know him from 'way back then', and all the new fans from all around the world whole heartedly agree:
Ride on, LUTHER !
02. Gamblers Blues
03. Sweet Home Chicago
04. Same Thing
05. Little Red Rooster
06. Sky Is Crying
07. Back Down South
09. Spontaneous Improvisation
10. Bad News Is Coming
11. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
12. Bad Love