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]
3. Raggedy And Dirty [Luther Allison/Joe Peraino/Robert Kreinar/Andrew Smith/Ray Goodman song]
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] - Side 2
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 was:
LUTHER ALLISON - Lead Vocals and Guitar
RAY GOODMAN - Rhythm Guitar
PAUL WHITE - Piano and Organ
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 stuff...

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:

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)

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

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