Sunday, October 29, 2023

Luther Allison - Love Me Mama (1969 us, stunning electric chicago blues, 2015 edition)

In his original liner notes, John Fishel noted that Luther Allison has the propulsive force and mastery to totally decimate an audience. I have been a witness to this many times.
Amen! Luther's family moved to Chicago from Forrest City, Arkansas in 1951. He was one of 12 children, and his brother Ollie... played the guitar and had a band on the West Side from 1954 to 1957. A preacher taught Luther to repair shoes... "but when I found out how much money I'd need to set myself up"...So he started out on bass... switched to guitar and in 1957 had his own band... played at the Bungalow on west 15th street for about a year and then went to Earl's place in Argo, IL. It was in Argo that Luther met Freddy King. Freddy and Luther's brother Grant encouraged Luther to start singing. Luther took over a job (from Freddy King) at Walton's Corner with Big Mojo Elem, bass and T.J. McNulty, drums. The gig lasted five years, then Luther began moving around from white clubs on the North Side to the 1815 Club on Roosevelt Rd. and back to Walton's Corners. 

Then in 1967 he moved to Peoria and began playing with an organ trio at Birdland. By the late 1960s we had become familiar with the fabulous West Side blues scene where Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, and Otis Rush capitalized on their R’n’B record successes at Sylvio's, Club Alex, Avenue. Lesser-known, unrecorded (but no less interesting) talent could turn up any night at smaller clubs such as Ross & Ma Bea's, Walton's Corner, the L&A, the Avenue, Duke's two joints and places ID'd more by their location than a name. We found and recorded Jimmy Dawkins and Carey Bell after such discoveries but were indebted to Shakey Jake's partner Bill Lindeman for the introduction to Luther Allison. They had recorded him for a label that never materialized. 

Their masters make up Sweet Home Chicago (618) and presently we heard him at the Alex. We immediately decided to add Allison to our roster but before we could do so, Luther gravitated to Los Angeles where he worked as a side- man on World Pacific's short-lived blues series and played at the Back Door, Red Velvet and Golden Bear. Delmark had been besieged by entreaties from record producers for Magic Sam's contract. In the absence of concrete proposals (I duck when recordmen ask me to "be a nice guy"), I suggested that they sign.

Luther Allison-Delmark couldn't afford to do sessions in L.A. Luther's present popularity with critics and fans alike indicates those A&R guys had a no understanding of blues. Luther eventually returned to the Chicago area, was signed and his first LP released. [Now that it can be told, John Fishel (chief instigator of the original Ann Arbor Blues Festival) was so high on Luther that he loaned us most of the money for the sessions we had spent our wad on Crudup, Carey, Dawkins, etc.] Love Me Mama outsold any album Delmark had issued by an artist not already established with an R’n’B single.

We were unable to connect Allison with a booker who under- stood the new blues market and after a succession of managers Luther moved to Europe where he had good management, recording regularly. Recently he has returned to the states, becoming the most popular and critically acclaimed blues artist of 1996. As the old saying goes: "You've been a long time coming, but you're welcome here."
by Bob Koester, Jim Fishel
1. Why I Love The Blues - 4:01
2. Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon) - 4:27
3. 4:00 In The Morning (Waiting On You) (B.B. King, Ferdinand Washington) - 2:12
4. You Done Lost Your Good Thing (B.B. King, Jo Josea) - 4:13
5. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd) - 4:15
6. Dust My Broom (Robert Johnson) - 3:32
7. Every Night About This Time (Fats Domino) - 3:56
8. Love Me Mama - 3:54
9. The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James) - 5:33
10.Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ralph Bass, Willie Dixon) - 3:46
11.You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now (B.B. King, Jo Josea) - 3:31
12.Bloomington Closer - 7:18
13.Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon) - 5:17
14.Walking From Door To Door - 3:46
All songs by Luther Allison except where noted
Bonus Tracks 4, 7, 13,14

*Luther Allison - Guitar, Vocals
*Robert "Big Mojo" Elem - Bass
*Jim Conley - Tenor Saxophone (Tracks 2, 6, 13, 14)
*Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins - Guitar (Tracks 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14)
*Bob Richey - Drums (Tracks 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14) 
*Bobby Davis - Drums (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 10-12)