Tune into the Weekend: Bernard Allison carries on father Luther’s Blues on latest offering

The late, great Luther Allison has long been one of our very favorite blues artists, and we’ve talked on these pages many times through the years about his son Bernard Allison being one of several second-generation blues musicians (along with the likes of Shemekia Copeland, Mud and Big Bill Morganfield, Lurrie Bell, and Zakiya Hooker) helping to carry on the legacies of their fathers. So what’s not to like about Bernard’s latest offering, on which he revisits some of the songs composed by his father that he’s covered on his own recordings throughout the past decades? From the start of his musical career, Bernard vowed always to include at least one of his father’s songs on each of his albums (something others like Shemekia Copeland have also tried to do), which has given him much from which to choose in compiling this stellar collection entitled Luther’s Blues (Ruf Records).

We’re giving you two slightly different tastes from the album below: first, the quieter yet still powerful side of Luther’s, and now Bernard’s, work in a swaying, jazzed-up take on “Serious,” one of several tracks on which Bernard incorporates some growling vocals not just reminiscent of, but that may actually surpass, if you can believe it, those of his father’s, and then, second, the swinging “Change Your Way of Living” that, with its barrelhouse piano, thick organ, and stinging guitar, is about as complete a track as for which you can ask, just as you could also say about this compilation.

If you like what you hear on either or both counts, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s plenty more of each of these ends of the spectrum across the 20 tracks of this 2-CD set, which the younger Allison handpicked and were brilliantly remastered by Pauler Acoustics (such that you wouldn’t even realize that they came from different projects over a three-decade period).

Other highlights on the softer side include the flowing R&B of “A Change Must Come,” with its particularly stinging guitar; the controlled, slick grooves of “I Gave It All”; a creeping “Let’s Try It Again”; the bluesy, stewing “You’re Gonna Need Me”, and the closing, solo acoustic ballad “Castle.”

On the more uptempo end, you’ll hear things like the shuffling, growl-filled “Back Down South”, funky numbers such as “Too Many Women” (“I’m one man!”) and the swinging “Move from the Hood,” and the blistering rocker of a tribute to Jimi Hendrix that opens the album, “Hang On”.

In between, there’s lots more good stuff, including the biting (and growling!) “Bad Love”, a groove-soaked “Into My Life,” the breezy “Reaching Out”, and a jazzy “Midnight Creeper”, to name just a few.

A number of the tracks incorporate some nice horns and keyboards, with, as usual from Bernard, just the right amount of guitar solos, none ever excessive.

Again, we’ve long been a fan of both Luther and Bernard, so it’s not surprising that this set is very much to our liking, but we certainly would love to hear some of the other second- generation blues men and women out there do similar compilations of their father’s music!

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