Saturday, December 12, 2009
Luther ALLISON - Serious 1987
Luther Allison established himself as an impassioned blues guitarist and vocalist of the highest caliber. He was an exhilarating performer whose raw guitar and vocal stylings won him blues and rock fans alike.
Born in 1939 in Mayflower, Arkansas, Allison was the 14th of 15 children. He learned guitar at an early age but his interest in playing music was moderate at best. His family moved to Chicago when Allison was 11 years old. In Chicago, five of his brothers formed The Southern Travelers- a gospel group, while another brother played with the Freddie King band. His mother was a dedicated religious woman who often sang gospel songs at home, often times prompting the whole family into "jam sessions." However, Luther had no intention in pursuing a career in music. In fact, as a youngster he dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player.
The young Luther wound up becoming friends with Muddy Waters' son and the two were often found at Waters' band rehearsals and home, where Luther would meet the great bluesmen of the time: Howlin' Wolf, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, and Freddie King, among others. After quitting high school, he began learning the shoe making and repair trade. Luckily, his resistance to being a musician quickly began to soften and he started seriously practicing with instruction from his brother Ollie. In 1957 he formed a band, The Four Jivers with another brother Grant. Because he was underage, Luther became proficient at sneaking into music clubs hoping to be invited on stage to play. His famous musician friends started taking note of his undeniable talents. In 1959 Freddie King started touring nationally, leaving his Chicago band and gigs behind. Suddenly, Luther found himself at the helm of King's old band and brought the unit to being one of the hottest blues attractions on the West Side.
A major chapter in Allison's career started with his being booked to the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival in Michigan, where his performance literally stole the show. He was invited back for the following two festivals as the headlining act. His performance changed him from a relative unknown to a major blues-rock attraction. Soon he was on the road playing blues clubs, festivals and rock halls across the country stunning audiences with his incendiary guitar work, sterling vocals and energetic live shows.
In 1972, Motown Records signed Allison as their first and only blues artist, which led to a slew of national and international concert and festival dates. His experiences abroad were character affirming and he enjoyed instant acceptance and adulation, especially in Europe. As the 1970's continued, interest in blues music in the U.S. waned. Luther released several excellent albums on various labels but sales of blues records were simply slack. Luther relocated to Paris in the early 1980's. He still enjoyed immense popularity in Europe and continued touring there regularly.
In 1987, Blind Pig Records released Allison's Serious album. Produced in France, it was his first recording since a pair of live albums recorded in 1979. It features his trademark melding of blues, rock, soul and R & B anchored by Luther's dazzling guitar work and his gritty, soulful voice. The release received high acclaim and helped renew interest in Luther's career in the United States.
In 1996, Luther Allison returned to America in a big way, winning five W.C. Handy Awards including Entertainer, Male Blues Artist and Blues Guitarist of the year.
By Blind Pig Records.2006
As bluesmen go, Luther Allison rocked, especially on Serious and subsequent recordings. This 1987 recording marked the beginning of a more rock-oriented approach for the singer-guitarist, which certainly contributed to Allison's rise in prominence, a climb that continued until his death in 1997. Serious is a bundle of barely restrained energy, from the opening chords of the stomping shuffle "Backtrack" to the wry "We're on the Road." "Life is a Bitch" is straight-up rock & roll, and "Parking Lot" crunches and burns all the way through. But Allison was also capable of a tender moment or two, and "Reaching Out" edges all the way into soul. "Just Memories" contains real sweetness, and "Show Me a Reason" is tightly wound from its slow-burning opening to its rock-out finish. Serious is often underrated, possibly because of its rock & roll overtones, but its energy and enthusiasm make it required listening for Allison aficionados.
By Genevieve Williams.
Luther Allison- (Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar);
Frank "Fast Frank" Rabaste- (Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals);
Alain Hatot- (Soprano Sax, Alto Sax);
Jean-Pierre Solves, Jean Louis Chautemps- (Sax);
Tony Russo, Freddy Hovsepian- (Trumpet);
Jacques Higelin- (Piano);
Michael Carras- (Keyboards);
Mario Satterfield- (Fretless Bass);
Jimi Schutte- (Drums, Background Vocals);
Samy Ateba- (Percussion).
01. Backtrack (2:51)
02. Life Is A Bitch (3:39)
03. Reaching Out (4:55)
04. Parking Lot (2:39)
05. Serious (5:06)
06. Just Memories (6:00)
07. Should I Wait (3:17)
08. Show Me A Reason (7:11)
09. Let's Try Again (6:46)
10. We're On The Road (3:48)