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Ricky Allen

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b. 6 January 1935, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. R&B singer Allen is a perfect example of an artist who recorded in the amalgam style called soul-blues, but he did so in the early 60s, long before anybody gave that genre a name. It was a style that was an inevitable product of his background in both the black church and the blues milieu. Allen started his singing in church choirs in his native Nashville, but after he moved to Chicago in 1958, he immersed himself in the West Side blues scene. He began recording for Mel London’s Age label in 1961, and had a local hit with ‘You Better Be Sure’, a fast blues with a rock ‘n’ roll feel. Allen made a name for himself nationally in 1963 with ‘Cut You A-Loose’ (number 20 R&B), a compelling song in which Allen’s riveting soul-blues vocals were propelled by a magnificent organ-driven throbbing rhythm. Before he retired from the scene in the early 70s, Allen had other local hits with ‘It’s A Mess I Tell You’ (1966) and ‘I Can’t Stand No Signifying’ (1967).

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