Tuesday, 10 February 2009

“Luther’s Blues” by LUTHER ALLISON (2001 Universal 'Blues Classics - Remastered And Revisited' CD Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I Don’t Know Why She Treats Me So Bad…I’ve Been So Sweet And Kind…"

A follow up to his 1972 debut LP "Bad News Is Coming" – Luther Allison's second album "Luther's Blues" was also released on Motown's Gordy label imprint in the USA - July 1974 on Gordy G 967V1 in this case.

The music is a bit of everything. "Luther's Blues" is a hard-hitting Blues album one moment ala Albert King - then funky as James Brown's DNA the next. And like its even grittier predecessor - because it was on a label the public associated more with Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye - its 9-track mixed bag got somehow lost in the chart stew and remains largely forgotten about today. Which is a damn shame really given the cross-the-genres musical quality on offer here (this CD is part of Universal’s superb "Blues Classics - Remastered & Revisited" CD Series). Let’s get to the details…

USA released in April 2001 – "Luther's Blues" by LUTHER ALLISON on Universal/Motown 440 013 409-2 (Barcode 044001340925) is a Reissue CD of the 1974 album supplemented with three bonus tracks and breaks down as follows (70:32 minutes):

1. Luther's Blues [Luther Allison song]
2. Someday Pretty Baby [co-write between Berry Gordy and James Woodley, a Singin' Sam Ward cover]
3. Easy Baby [written by Willie Dixon, a Magic Sam cover]
4. Part Time Love [co-write between Janie Bradford and Richard Wylie, a Singin' Sam Ward cover]
5. Now You Got It [co-write between Luther Allison, Gene Block, Gary Beam and Kenneth Miles]
6. K.T. [co-write between Luther Allison, Joseph Peraino and Benny Emerson]
7. Let's Have A Little Talk [Luther Allison song]
8. Driving Wheel [Roosevelt Sykes cover]
9. Into My Life [Luther Allison song]
10. San-Ho-Zay [Previously Unreleased Freddie King cover]
11. Bloomington Closing - Early Version [Previously Unreleased]
12. Medley: I'm Gonna Miss My Baby/Bad News/The Thrill Is Gone (Live)

"San-Ho-Zay" and "Bloomington Closing" are previously unreleased outtakes from the sessions while the three-track live medley was recorded at the Arbor Blues Festival in 1973 (also Previously Unreleased).

The Band for the Sessions was:
LUTHER ALLISON - Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Stratocaster & Slide Guitars
BOB GOODMAN and GENE BLOCK - Rhythm Guitars
PAUL WHITE - Piano and Organ [TOM CURRY on "Easy Baby" only]
BOB BABETTE and GARY BEAM - Bass Guitars

SUHA GUR – one of Universal’s top engineers - has given the remaster a fantastic quality with audio clarity on all of the tracks pumping, muscular and superbly clear.

Half of the songs are straight up blues like "Let's Have A Little Talk" where Allison lets rip his attacking licks and gritty voice in a seven-minute tour-de-force - but then there are very soulful tunes too - like "Now You Got It" and the ultra-funky "K.T.". His guitar work on the chugging Roosevelt Sykes cover of "Driving Wheel" is fabulous - screeching notes out of his plank that few other Blues men get. And like so many of these great guitarists of the genre - his power, prowess and presence is never more evident than when he's slaying the audience on that incredible 19-minute live medley.

Very tasty indeed - “Luther’s Blues” is a hard-to-find vinyl album for Motown collectors and a real discovery for Blues enthusiasts on CD (and it's cheap too). Recommended like grits and groceries...

Titles in Universal's 'Blues Classics-  Remastered & Revisited' CD Reissue Series:

1. Bad News Is Coming - LUTHER ALLISON
(1972 Gordy LP, 2001 Remaster + Four Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks) - Universal 440 013 407-2 (Barcode 044001340727)

2. Luther’s Blues - LUTHER ALLISON
(1974 USA 9-track LP with 3 Previously Unreleased bonuses, 70:28 minutes)
Universal 440 013 409-2 (Barcode 044001340925)

3. Two Steps From The Blues - BOBBY BLAND (1961 USA 12-track Mono Debut LP on Duke Records with 2 Bonus Single Sides, 35:12 minutes)
Released 27 Feb 2011 on MCA 088 112 516-2 (Barcode 008811251628)

4. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - JOHN LEE HOOKER
(October 1966 and September 1991 LPs on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 79:44 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 821-2 (Barcode 008811282127)

5. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - HOWLIN' WOLF
(January 1966 on Chess and January 1967 on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 66:45 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 820-2 (Barcode 008811282028)

6. Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions - ETTA JAMES)
(January 1968 US 12-Track LP on Cadet - 13-22 being bonuses, 57:11 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 518-2 (Barcode 008811251826)

7. Live At San Quentin - B.B. KING
(1990 13-Track Compilation on MCA, no extras, 64:11 minutes)
MCA America 088 112 517-2 (Barcode 008811251727)

8. Muddy Waters At Newport 1960 - MUDDY WATERS
(1960 US 9-Track LP on Chess with 10-13 being 4 Mono Studio Tracks from June 1960 as bonus tracks, 44:43 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 515-2 (Barcode 008811251529)

9. Fathers & Sons - MUDDY WATERS & Friends
(Tracks 1-10 and 15-20 is the August 1969 2LP set on Chess in Full with Tracks 11, 12, 13 being previously unreleased - and 14 previously unreleased in the USA). (77:38 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 648-2 (Barcode 008811264826)

10. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - MUDDY WATERS
MCA/Chess 088 112 822-2 (Barcode 008811282226)

11. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues - SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON
(January 1966 and January 1967 LPs on Chess, 2LPs on 1CD, 65:28 minutes)
MCA/Chess 088 112 823-2 (Barcode 008811282325)

1 and 2 remastered by Suha Gur - 3 to 11 by Erick Labson

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