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December 1999

Luther Allison
Live In Chicago
Alligator Records

The late, great Luther Allison was famous for giving 110% every time he hit the stage. Live in Chicago (Alligator 4869; 66:39/65:02) documents that fact in chilling terms. Drawing on peak performances from 1995 at the Chicago Blues Festival and at Buddy Guy's Legends nightclub, as well as one hot night in 1997 at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska, this smoking two-CD set argues the case, posthumously, for Allison as the hardest working man in blues business. Backed by the Memphis Horns and aided immeasurably by right hand man, co-writer and guitarisic foil James Solberg, Luther slashes and burns his way through slow blues numbers ("Cherry Red Wine," "Bad Love"), scintillating uptempo shuffles ("Soul Fixin' Man,"), grooving B.B. King-inspired midtempo shuffles ("Move From the Hood," "Party Time," "Walking Papers"), down and dirty funk ("What Have I Done Wrong?," "What's Going On in My Home?"), Memphis styled soul ("Think With Your Heart," "You're Gonna Make Me Cry") and roadhouse rockers ("Give Me Back My Wig"), all with reckless abandon. Another Chicago blues veteran, the great lefty ax slinger Otis Rush, makes a special guest appearance on a medley of "Gambler's Blues/Sweet Little Angel." A great tribute to a fallen hero.

Originally published in December 1999
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