Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Luther ALLISON - Pay It Forward 2002
Thomas Ruf has done a great service to all Luther Allison fans in releasing this collection of rare studio and live performances. They are not all classics, but they do illustrate that Luther's time in Europe was one of great fertility and prowess, and before an adoring fan base he took them to places of joy with the blues that they likely never imagined attainable.
There are studio takes with Joanna Connor that are great R & B workouts, there is a bit of sentimentality with his son, Bernard, and the live tracks are all killer. Luther live was a force to be reckoned with and his European bands were as formidable as any collection that ever called South Chicago home. The liner notes are warm reminiscences by those who knew him or production notes from Ruf himself. This is clearly the work of a man who misses his very close friend.
You will not be disappointed with anything on the CD. It tends to underscore how tragic it was that just as Luther was gaining the recognition for creativity, innovation and passion in the States that were already legendary in Europe and Africa, that his life would be cut short. But this is no commercial rip-off. In fact, its very quality, like everything about Luther Allison, shows you just how short changed you are by other artists' outtakes (Elvis Costello, Bowie, U2, etc).
This isn't where you start if you have an interest in Luther Allison, but it is a nice way to remeber a great friend to the blues.
Recorded from 1984 to 1994 during Luther's self-imposed exile years in Paris. 11 tracks, many previously unreleased, including 'Slippin' Away', 'I Know', 'Perfume & Grime' & 'Love Is Free'. Includes the bonus track 'I Know'. Ruf Records. 2002.
In many cases, collections of musical odds and ends -- a live rarity here, an alternate take there -- can be uneven and inconsistent. And the people they're aimed at -- mainly diehard fans and serious collectors -- are willing to live with that. They have more than just a casual interest in the artist's work, and even the less-from-essential stuff excites and intrigues them. Assembled in 2002 -- five years after Luther Allison's death -- Pay It Forward is the sort of odds-and-ends collection that tends to appeal to diehard fans rather than casual listeners. This CD, which spans 1985-1996, contains an abundance of previously unreleased material and ranges from various live performances to an alternate version of the dark, brooding "Cherry Red Wine." Pay It Forward would probably interest obsessive collectors even if it was wildly inconsistent, but thankfully, these live and studio recordings are generally solid -- and some are even excellent. Although this CD doesn't limit itself to Allison's more essential work, it nonetheless reminds us how productive a time the '80s and '90s were for the late singer/guitarist. Pay It Forward also demonstrates that Allison was more a prolific blues artist -- he was also a prolific soul artist. Allison is quite inspired on a live performance of Willie Dixon's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" (recorded at the Stockholm Jazz and Blues Festival in 1991), but he also has a lot to say when he gets into soul-singer mode on the congenial "I Wanna Be with You," and a sweaty version of Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" (which was recorded live at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland). Again, Pay It Forward isn't recommended to casual listeners, but it's easily recommended to those who count themselves among Allison's hardcore devotees.
By Alex Henderson.AMG.
Luther Allison- (Vocals, Guitar);
James Solberg, Bernard Allison- (Vocals, Guitar);
Joanna Connor- (Vocals, Slide Guitar);
Marla Glenn- (Vocals);
Patrick Verbeke- (Acoustic Guitar, Backgound Vocals);
Charlie Bingham, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Otis Grand, Ken Lending, Anthony Palmer- (Guitar);
Effendi Mumtaz- (Bouzouki);
Jorgen Lang- (Harmonica);
Allard Buwaldi- (Sax);
Serge Plume- (Trumpet);
Jel Jongen- (Trombone);
Kurt Clayton- (Piano);
Mike Vlahakis- (Hammond B-3 Organ, Keyboards);
Bruce Elsensohm- (Hammond B-3 Organ);
Ernest Williams- (Keyboards);
Barry Becket, Kjelt Lauritsen- (Organ);
Dave Smith, Ken Faltinson, Steve Gomes, Jay Golden- (Bass);
Steve Potts, Rob Stupka, Roger Hawkins, Lloyd Anderson, Frank Larsen- (Drums).
01. I Wanna Be With You Luther Allison And Friends 4:16
02. Still Called The Blues Luther Allison And Friends 5:33
03. Dock Of The Bay Luther Allison And Friends 8:17
04. Just As I Am Luther Allison And Friends 5:09
05. Nobody But You Luther Allison And Friends 3:42
06. Perfume & Grime Luther Allison And Friends 8:03
07. Cherry Red Wine Luther Allison And Friends 4:23
08. Idols In Mind Luther Allison And Friends 4:25
09. Hoochie Coochie Man Luther Allison And Friends 8:17
10. Slipping Away Luther Allison And Friends 5:26
11. Love Is Free / I Know (Bonus Jam) Luther Allison And Friends 11:04