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Sunday, 19 June 2016
"Bad News Is Coming" by LUTHER ALLISON (2001 Universal/Motown 'Blues Classics - Remastered & Revisited' Expanded CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...
"…Raggedy And Dirty…"
On the evidence of this fab little CD reissue - Chicago's Luther Allison
played some of the meanest and grittiest Seventies blues imaginable - and lucky
for us was also possessed of a dirty low-down voice to match his fiery axework.
Think of a black Jeff Beck circa 1972 with a tassels suede jacket, a spliff in
his mouth, a Hendrix lean back pose as he plays and a Fender Stratocaster he
wants to hurt - and you're there. "Bad News Is Coming" is his debut
LP and a bit of a mule-kicking blinder it is too...
This ballsy uncompromising album first appeared in late 1972 on Motown's
Gordy label imprint in the USA and has been remastered here as part of
Universal's superlative "Blues Classics - Revisited & Remastered"
Series (see list below) - bolstered up with four corking Bonus Tracks from the
original sessions. Here is the Rooster in the Barn Yard details...
USA released in April 2001 - "Bad News Is Coming" by LUTHER
ALLISON on Universal/Motown 440 013 407-2 (Barcode 044001340727) is an expanded
CD remaster and breaks down as follows (56:10 minutes):
1. The Little Red Rooster [Willie Dixon song - Howlin' Wolf cover]
2. Evil Is Going On [Willie Dixon song - Howlin' Wolf cover]
4. Rock Me Baby [B.B. King/Joe Bihari song - B.B. King cover]
5. Bad News Is Coming [Joe Peraino/Luther Allison/Paul White song] -
6. Cut You A-Loose [Mel London cover]
7. Dust My Broom [Elmore James cover]
Tracks 1 to 7 are his debut album "Bad News Is Coming" -
released December 1972 in the USA on Motown/Gordy G 964L (No UK release).
10. The Stumble [Freddie King cover]
11. Sweet Home Chicago [Robert Johnson cover]
12. It's Been A Long Time [Luther Allison song]
13. Take My Love (I Want To Give It All To You) [Mertis John song]
With all arrangements by Luther Allison, the album was recorded between
February and August 1972 and produced by JOE PERIANO. The Band for the Sessions
LUTHER ALLISON - Lead Vocals and Guitar
RAY GOODMAN - Rhythm Guitar
PAUL WHITE - Piano and Organ
GARFIELD ANGOVE - Harmonica
ANDREW SMITH - Drums and Bass
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. Play only the opening bars of "The Little Red
Rooster" which is essentially Rock-Blues and immediately you're kicked in
the gut by the power of his playing and the wonderful muscle in the transfer.
He powers down into a Harmonica and Piano Beat Blues with the second Howlin'
Wolf classic on Side 1 - "Evil Is Going On" (great work from Garfield
Angove and Paul White). Allison growls, "Another mule might be kicking in
your stall..." as he allows Angove to dominate "Evil" with
warbling harmonica. Things now get downright Funky with Organ/Harmonica battles
on "Raggedy And Dirty" and a wicked rhythm section (this will surely
turn up on some Kent-Soul/BGP CD as a Funky/Blues discovery). Allison closes
the side with Soulful Robert Cray type fretwork on B.B. King's "Rock Me
Baby" - his excellent band supplementing the licks with Piano fills and
warm Bass runs.
"Bad News Is Coming" is kind of Albert King at Stax territory
- a slow piano beat allows aching lyrics and guitar fills to come to the fore
(very nice Blues). We return to harder guitar on "Cut You A-Loose"
and finish on a slashing version of the Elmore James classic "Dust My
Broom" - making you wish you could have seen this band in full flow in a
bar somewhere about one in the morning. The extras are surprisingly good
opening with an Instrumental version of Freddie King's "The Stumble"
and a jaunty go at Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago". But best is
the near eleven-minute "It's Been A Long Time" where he gets to
stretch out on the guitar while Paul White plinks away on the piano. Great
Probably because it was a label more associated with Diana Ross, Marvin
Gaye and Smokey Robinson - "Bad News Is Coming" and its 1974
follow-up "Luther's Blues" (also on Gordy and also in this series of
CD reissues) simply got lost in the mix. No one seems to have noticed - which
is astonishing given the quality of both albums. Perhaps if it had been on the
Rare Earth label with the groups Rare Earth, The Undisputed Truth and Rustix -
then the Rock crowd might have noticed it more. But like it's tasty follow up
"Luther's Blues" - "Bad News Is Coming:" is a hard-to-find
vinyl album for Motown collectors and I'd argue a real discovery for Blues
enthusiasts (the CD is dirt cheap too).
In the early Fifties Luther Allison formed a band with his brother Ollie
and called their group (cue a drumroll) -The Rolling Stones. You see how smart
those British boys were - and how they and Led Zeppelin were always nicking the
best ideas. A criminally forgotten guitarist in the pantheon of Blues Men -
give this Luther Allison CD a go. It's recommended like grits and groceries...
Titles in Universal's 'Blues Classics- Remastered and Revisited' CD Reissue Series: