Songs From the Road

Luther Allison

After watching bluesman Luther Allison working up a huge sweat during the hour-long DVD that documents eight songs from this Montreal Jazz Festival concert, it’s hard to believe that he’d be dead (at 57 from lung cancer) a month later. The music here is culled from the 90-minute July 4, 1997, set he played that night and shows him in a powerhouse performance that, as strenuous as it is, is much shorter than his regular gigs that routinely ran four hours. Allison’s accompanied here by guitarist Jim Solberg (who takes a lot of terrific solos, too), Mike Vlahakis (keys), Ken Faltinson (bass) and drummer Rob Stupka, who are faultless throughout. Six of the 10 songs are his and deal with the time-honored battle of the sexes, what he calls “reality songs.” On “Will It Ever Change” he informs his baby that she’d better change her ways; on the slide guitar-drenched “Low Down and Dirty” he tells her that she’s “low down in the morning, low down in the night” and that “something isn’t right.” He slows down on “There Comes a Time” to confess that “I was wrong” and asks “Can I bring my lovin’ back home?” A relaxed version of Tampa Red’s “It Hurts Me, Too” showcases more of his slide guitar. Get this one!