Luther Allison, Luther’s Blues, 1974, Motown
I believe this is another that I got from the radio station, and one that I remember listening to quite a bit back in the day. There’s something to be said about having a short stack of records and limiting your listening to just those records. You get to know and love those records. Of course there’s also something to be said for having easy access to almost every piece of music ever recorded just about any time you want to hear it. It’s the old depth vs. breadth tension. And like most of us, I don’t plan on going back to only a short stack of music. I think that’s why we enjoy the “What would you take to a deserted island?” game. We played it in the car just the other day. What records, books, television series, movies, restaurant’s menu? It’s fun to toy with the idea of going deep because we know we don’t have to.
Back to Luther. My research tells me that with this album, Luther’s Blues, Luther Allison was just beginning to hit his stride. I agree with one reviewer who wrote that there are hits and misses on this record. But the hits are amazing. I think my favorite is the opening track, “Luther’s Blues.” It opens in standard blues structure with what I thought was a classic riff. Upon a second listen, I don’t know if it’s a classic riff or if I’d just listened to it so often in my “depth days” that to me that’s what the opening of a blues song ought to sound like. I’m not educated enough to describe musically what’s going on here. But it’s one of the most transcendent 50 seconds of music I’ve ever heard.
I love it when he’s having the conversation with his guitar. It totally works. For me this album works best when Allison is playing his own tunes. A couple of these are pretty funky like “Now You Got It” and “K.T.” But it’s the bluesy ones that I love. They just touch me somehow.Here’s another like that. “Let’s Have a Little Talk.” It’s a standard style blues tune, but Allison makes it his.
As of this writing, you can hear all of Luther’s Blues on Youtube. I would suggest that you take advantage of this amazing bit of fortune. And if you can listen to the title track just once without returning to it, then, wait, you did what now, how did, how could, I don’t understand.