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Luther Allison - Songs From The Road

CD+DVD for the price of one! Vinyl-Look.

Ruf Records

Not yet available in Canada and the USA (Feb 9, 2010)

CD Tracks available for MP3 download on

It’s a strange thing how European blues enthusiasts have repeatedly been at the forefront of re-introducing America and Americans to their own musical roots. First the so called ‘British Invasion’, more years I go than I care to remember, which brought the names of the likes of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry to attention, and more recently the stalwart work of European entrepreneurs and record producers, ranging from the Black and White label in Holland, through the re-mastered vintage archive built by Document Records in Scotland, to the leading edge work of Thomas Ruf (pronounced Roof) in Germany. It is Thomas Ruf who here has ‘done it again’.

Luther Allison was a long-time friend of Thomas Ruf and according to some sources was the inspiration for the establishment of Ruf Records. The liner notes for this CD/DVD clearly suggest that Ruf loved both the man and his music. Luther Allison was born in Widener, Arkansas and moved with his family when he was twelve years old, to Chicago, Illinois. A self-taught guitarist it was not long before he became absorbed in the Windy City blues scene. By the end of the ‘50s and into the early ’60 was working the club scene and earning his spurs as a singer and axe man. Then, following some releases on the Delmark label and appearances at US festivals, in 1977, Allison decamped to Europe where he remained for fifteen years.

Thomas Ruf was Allison’s manager and in 1994 – according to some sources with much encouragement from the latter – Ruf started his Ruf Records label. In 1994 Allison, with encouragement from Buce Iglaur, Allison signed for Alligator Record and had great success with recordings, tour and nominations for music awards.

Allison was known for his fiery axe work and for lengthy guitar solos and crowd walking with his Gibson Les Paul. Unfortunately in 1997, five days before his 58th birthday Allison died of Cancer. This CD/DVD was recorded in Montreal by the Canadian Television at a 4th July event, just few days before he was diagnosed with his to be terminal illness.

The music on these disks is just sensational. Luther standouts like "Cherry Red Wine", his 1996 Song of the Year; "Serious"; "Will It Ever Change"; and "Move From The Hood", his personal call to social activism; as well as a lengthy slide propelled version of "It Hurts Me Too" and, as they say, much, much more. He was well known for doing very long sets (not too much of that about these days) and once said, “I tell the people, ‘You've paid for the first 90 minutes. Anything after that, consider that I'm paying for it.’" This gig was, for Allison, a short one, only 80 minutes long, and it has been edited in the DVD version to 50 mins for Canadian TV. You get what must be nearly all of it on the CD.

That expectation of freedom to do what he wanted gave Allison a spontaneity that is all too often missing from some contemporary performances.

Get this one folks! You will never regret it and thanks to Mr Ruf for bringing it to us.

Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer and has a webcast regular blues radio show on PhonicFM  in Exeter (Wednesdays - 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

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