Let It Go
Bernard Allison was born in Chicago in 1965. He was introduced to the blues by his father, the late Luther Allison. He started playing guitar at the age of ten and played on a live recording of his father’s when he was just thirteen. After graduating high school Bernard began playing with Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. He also played with Willie Dixon’s Blues All-Stars.
Ruf Records released their first album in order to let the world hear his father Luther Allison. “Live in Montreux 1976-1994” remains the essential “live” recording of this great bluesman. Luther Allison passed away in 1997.
Bernard’s first Ruf Records recording may have been released as early as 2001 but it is no longer available. The Ruf Records catalogue lists three albums. Usually they were released in Europe a year or two prior to being released in the U.S. In 2003 Bernard released “Kentucky Fried Blues Live” followed by 2004’s “Higher Power” and 2005’s double cd “Energized: Live in Europe”. Bernard left Ruf and recorded for other labels.
In 2015 The Bernard Allison Group released “In The Mix” on the Jazzhaus label. Bernard’s guitar was further back in the mix and his soulful vocals were the best of his career. He seemed more relaxed and without a need to prove his guitar prowess.
This new album is a sort of homecoming as Bernard has returned to Ruf Records. The band consists of Bernard, vocals, guitars and B-3; John T. McGhee, rhythm guitar; George Moye, bass; and Mario Dawson, drums, percussion and backing vocal. The album is produced by Jim Gaines.
Bernard has authored eight new songs. He informs us on the opener that we’re “Cruisin’ For A Bluesin” with the lyric “gonna groove on down this highway, got my guitar in my hand”. Bernard writes about relationships on “Same Ole Feeling”; on the title track “Let It Go” and on “Backdoor Man”. On the latter Bernard suspects his girl is cheating and he investigates a disturbance with gun in hand.
“Night Train” is a funky tune about taking a trip back to Chicago. “Leave Your Ego” is co-written with Ronnie Baker Brooks and based on his father’s philosophy. On “Blues Party” Bernard imagines a heavenly jam with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Robert Johnson.
“Kiddio” is a jazzy tune from Brook Benton with Jose Ned James sitting in on saxophone. “Look Out Mabel” is a shuffle from songwriter and record producer Mel London.
Bernard closes out this fine album with two of his father’s songs; “You’re Gonna Need Me” and “Castle”. The latter appears on Luther Allison’s 1994 Ruf Records recording “Hand Me Down My Moonshine”. Bernard always pays tribute to his dad but make no mistake about it; Bernard is his own man. Check him out on this great new recording.
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