Distinctive Chicago blues guitar stylist who expatriated to France in the '70s and returned to great acclaim in the '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 in 1994, Allison's popularity grew exponentially and he worked steadily until his death in 1997.
The second of three Allison albums issued on Motown's Gordy subsidiary in the 1970s, Luther's Blues captures the guitarist's uncovered-wire sound in its full glory. The crescendo ending of "Let's Have a Little Talk," one of five Allison originals here, is more than another standard variation on crowd-pleasing clichés. It's an apocalyptic, blues-wailing roar, with Allison's pleading vocal at its core. Berry Gordy turns up in the composer credits for one tune, "Someday Pretty Baby," which, along with "Part Time Love," trawls the company's early raw-edged back catalog. Even the funk-flavored "K.T."–an attempted hit single?–fits the mood. The three bonus tracks on this exemplary remaster nearly double the original LP's length, with a raw version of Freddy King's "San-Ho-Zay" glowing alongside an alternate version of Allison's "Bloomington Closing" and a lengthy medley from the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues Festival.
Co-producer Bruce Iglauer anticipated a future trend by making this a set filled with cameos – but the presence of Lonnie Brooks, James Cotton, Albert Collins, and Son Seals is entirely warranted and the contributions of each work quite well in the context of the whole. Taylor's gritty "I Cried like a Baby" and a snazzy remake of Ann Peebles' "Come to Mama" are among the many highlights.