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Songs From The Road

Luther Allison

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Album Review

The great blues singer and guitarist Luther Allison died in August of 1997, just a month after being diagnosed with a malignant lung tumor. Four days prior to that diagnosis, he played a blistering show in Montreal; it was filmed for later airplay on Canadian television, and most of the show is captured on this very fine CD/DVD set (several of the songs not included on the CD are covered on the DVD and vice-versa). The bitter irony is obvious here — Allison is at the peak of his powers, and yet at the same time, it could be said that he's playing like a man with only weeks to live. The urgency and fire of his playing and singing on numbers like his slide showcase "It Hurts Me Too," and the powerfully swinging, barrelhouse blues of "Will It Ever Change" and "You Can, You Can" would put musicians half his age to shame. But what really sets him apart is the relentlessly positive nature of his message: whether preaching social uplift on "Move from the Hood" or entreating a reluctant lover on "You Can, You Can," Allison always seems to be encouraging and exhorting more than pleading or bemoaning. His "talking guitar" shtick is charming, his slide playing is beautifully greasy, and the gleeful disregard with which he struts back and forth over the lines that separate the blues from R&B and rock is inspiring. Songs from the Road is a bittersweet but more than welcome look back at one of America's lost musical treasures.

Biography

Born: August 17, 1939 in Widener, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

An American-born guitarist, singer, and songwriter who lived in France since 1980, Luther Allison was the man to book at blues festivals in the mid-'90s. Allison's comeback into the mainstream was ushered in by a recording contract with an American record company, Chicago-based Alligator Records. After he signed with Alligator...
Full Bio