Sunday, April 29, 2012

Luther Allison - The Motown Years 1972-1976

I was never overly familiar with Luther, but the quality of his work here makes me wonder why I hadn't followed him before! These early 70's tracks mix Hendrix-y guitar work (actually, listening again, I think it's more Jeff Beck-y than Hendrix-y, but maybe they were listening to him!) with funk, rock, and plenty of blues with style and passion. Luther can perfect Elmore James slide on one tune (covering "Dust My Broom"), BB King styles in another, Magic Sam soul-blues in "Easy Baby", have a conversation with his guitar here & there and plenty more. With an ace band backing him, this is powerful stuff!

Luther arrived in Chicago in the mid-50's as a teenager and played in numerous bands (his first was actually called the Rolling Stones - years before the Brits used the name!) before recording his debut solo album for Delmark in 1969. While playing for a blues festival he was discovered by a Motown A&R man who, despite their lack of blues artists, picked us Allison and recorded 3 stellar albums that these tunes were pulled from.

There is a little Sly & The Family Stone thrown in here, some Issac Hayes there, but he really shines on his blues outings, in my mind. He's not afraid to have some edge, distortion, and sustain to his guitar sound - more "rock" if you will - but also works with other tones. Fine stuff all around.

Absolutely terrific from start to finish. Maybe not for purists who don't like their artists to mix their styles, but this just makes me wish that I had discovered him long ago!