Originally released by Motown in 1973, Luther’s Blues was not a big seller. Not that it’s not a great album. It is. But maybe Motown at that time wasn’t the best place to sell a blues record.
The young Luther definitely bares some resemblance to the fella who re-emerged in the ’90s and blew away the blues world. Listen to the big, thick, stinging tone on the title cut and the big, soulful vocals. And to top it off, he has a very cool and funny conversation with his guitar toward the end of the tune. There are great songs, with solos that’ll have you grinning ear to ear. “Let’s Have a Little Talk” has a 40-second intro that lets Luther run through some changes and show his stuff. Then, it’s a slow blues with a solo that can only be described as brilliant. For pure taste and a great vibrato, check out the funk of “Into My Life.” There are cuts here that don’t have solos, but allow Luther to show off his great voice and feel for the blues.
Topping of this great package are three killer bonus cuts; a cover of Freddie King’s “San-Ho-Zay” is pure fire, rowdy and fun as it gets; the funk of “Bloomington Closing Early Version” allows for nice, sinewy soloing; and the final medley (which clocks in at almost 20 minutes) is one of those things that’s just a pure joy to listen to. Listen to Luther yell out a key change! You gotta love it!
Allison was one of those guys who looked like and carried himself like a guitar player. And the raw power and emotion of his singing and playing are very evident here. A nice record of the early work of one of the giants of the blues.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue.