February 7th, 2018
Bernard Allison: Let It Go Review
Bernard Allison is the son of the legendary bluesman, Luther Allison. I want to get that fact out of the way early, because lineage is always a factor when an artist has a famous parent. But Bernard Allison isn’t just some kind of novelty act cashing in on a famous name, as evidenced both by his long career, but also by Let It Go, his new, and brilliant, album.
The challenge of the blues, for all artists, is connecting to its rich history while also sounding contemporary. Allison navigates that challenge perfectly, creating an album that is timeless. “Cruisin for a Bluesin,” the album’s lead-off track, sounds like a lost Stax cut, with its walking bass line, Allison’s laid-back vocals, and his bold, wild soloing throughout the song. “Backdoor Man” is just as funky, but also somehow like Bob Dylan’s “Foot of Pride” reborn in the Missippi delta. A few songs later, on “Hey Lady,” Allison plays over a slinky rhythm-and-blues groove that resolves into a chorus not unlike Eric Clapton’s “Bad Love.” In every case, Allison is bringing blues touchstones into a modern setting.
It’s not just the quality of the songs that makes this album such a great listen, but the song variety. Allison subtly moves between styles without the album ever sounding random. Everything fits together perfectly. He even concludes with two of his father’s songs, which is interesting since Allison doesn’t sound especially like Luther; he actually has more of a Muddy Waters sound. But the two songs fit perfectly into the rest of the album.
Let It Go shows Allison’s mastery of the blues. Not only does he know the licks and the structures but he also knows how to assemble them together. He’s created an album that manages to sound both modern and old; an album that sounds bluesy but not derivative. It’s a beautiful work of art.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Backdoor Man
– Hey Lady
– Cruisin for a Bluesin
– Blues Party
The Big Hit
– Blues Party
Review by Steven Ovadia
By Martine Ehrenclou
Let It Go, the new album by guitar slinger and blues funk master, Bernard Allison, released February 2nd, cracks the start of 2018 with a blues-bang.
The incredibly talented guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, Bernard Allison (son of the late, blues heavyweight, Luther Allison) put together a funky blues album that rocks. There’s something for everyone on Let It Go, including jazz and rock tunes. Produced by the legendary Jim Gaines, Let It Go is Allison’s return to Ruf Records.
Allison is the king of groove and smokin’ guitar chops, and Let It Go showcases plenty of soul-satisfying guitar work. It’s an upbeat, and even uplifting record with genre bending tunes that Allison largely wrote himself, with the exception of two covers and two by his father.
The 12-track album kicks off with, “Cruisin’ for a Bluesin,” a rhythmic groove with a foot-stompin’ beat. The perfect album-opener with a mighty fine guitar solo and smooth, soulful vocals by Allison. This tune must be experienced at high volumes to capture the excellent musicianship by Bernard Allison (vocals, lead guitar, slide, B3,) John T. McGhee (rhythm guitar) George Moye (bass) and Mario Dawson (drums.)
Next up, “Same Ole Feeling” offers a sweet R&B groove with tasteful guitar work, courtesy of the versatile Allison. Talk about making a guitar sing. He makes his guitar whine, croon and belt. Something about his guitar solo reminded me of George Benson, but with a tone and style all his own. Just listen to it and you’ll see what I mean.
“Back Door Man” opens with talk box, adding interesting texture to the intro. Allison takes a spin on slide guitar, making this track a standout on the album. This is funky fun.
“Let It Go” introduces a different feel. It’s more of a rock song about love gone wrong. Again, Allison kills it on guitar and vocals. The guitar solo, in a word, is beautiful. The rhythm section is tight, perfectly in sync.
“Night Train,” another standout, is a rockin’ funky blues tune with some interesting jazz flavors and once again features outstanding musicianship from Allison and the band. “Night Train” is also about good storytelling. What better than a tale about going to a club, a hole in the wall, and playing music until dawn. The band is so tight-knit you can hear their connection. Allison’s stunning guitar riffs ride the bass line and he plays another ripping solo. It’s funky but has a whole lot more going on.
Versatility is the name of the game for this record, which isn’t surprising given Allison’s breadth of skills to draw from. He began playing professionally at the age of 13 on his father’s records, and went directly from high school into Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. This began several decades of a prolific solo career, 19 albums, and performing and recording with many blues greats.
“Kiddio,” a Brook Benton jazz number, features a beautiful sax solo played by Jose Ned James. It’s a laid back tune, but don’t let that fool you—it’s expertly played with plenty of soul and groove.
WORLD PREMIERE “Let It Go” by Bernard Allison
'Let It Go' is out on Ruf Records on February 2nd in the US and UK.
Photo by Lisa Gray
At just 13 years old, it became apparent that Bernard Allison was going to be a force to be reckoned with when his father, Luther Allison, heard him play with his own “Love Me Mama” note-for-note. Impressed, the elder Allison told him, “Tonight you’re gonna record with me.”
On the road with his father, he’d met Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor and Albert King, and many more of his heroes. Just a week out of high school he joined Koko Taylor’s touring band.
As his career and ability progressed Allison collaborated with his father and also learned from other greats including Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Allison’s latest album, Let It Go, is out on Ruf Records January 26th in Germany and in US and UK on February 2nd. Allison notes that “We made the decision to not flood the CD with keyboards or horns, to go back to the true basic rhythm section sound – and to show more mature songwriting.”
Indeed. Let It Go is filled with one tasty sonic nugget after another. Premiering here, the title track has a beat that draws listeners in immediately, and a groove that doesn’t quit. And while everyone knows that Allison can burn up a fretboard with the best artists out there, here he invites us to savor every note.
Allison says, “Let’s talk about the future and learn from the past!! Let It Go because dwelling on the past makes no sense anymore!”
By Phillip Smith; Jan 6, 2018
I have nothing but the highest of praise for Bernard Allison’slatest album Let it Go. It’s a delightful blend of blues, funk and soul. With this release, Bernard returns to Ruf Records, the label Thomas Ruf created for his father, the late great bluesmanLuther Allison in 1994. Bernard’s band is wonderfully tight and consists of rhythm guitarist John T. McGhee, bassist George Moye, and drummer Mario Dawson. Recorded by the legendary music producer, Jim Gaines, the album was recorded at Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee.
From the beginning, I’m hooked by the spirited rhythm and bouncy groove on “Cruisin for a Bluesin”. It wonderfully ignites into a smoking guitar performance. His soulful vocals on title track “Let it Go” are suave and soulful. This is such a terrific song. There’s a definitely a bit of the P-Funk influence on the front end of “Night Train”. I love the bassline Moye throws down as Bernard takes this fresh, funky track to the next level with his guitar mastery. Covered and topped with Dawson’s dynamic drumming, this is one phenomenal listen.
Bernard charmingly takes on Brook Benton’s 1960 hit single “Kiddio”, enlisting the magnificent Jose Ned James on sax. For a fabulous finale, the listener is treated to two wonderful covers originally recorded by his father, Luther. First served is the delicious slow-cooked blues of “You’re Gonna Need Me”, from the 1982 album South Side Safari. Then for a captivating closer,Bernard beautifully performs “Castle”, from Luther’s 1994 album Hand Me Down My Moonshine.
Over the years, Bernard Allison has continued to push the envelope in his songwriting and artistry, and that certainly shows in Let it Go.
Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link. This helps keep thePhillyCheeze site going.
BERNARD ALLISON RETURNS HOME TO RUF RECORDS
BERNARD ALLISON – LET IT GO
Release Dates – Germany/Europe Jan 26, USA and UK Feb 2, 2018
Bernard Allison is unstoppable. He’s the face on the magazines and the voice on the radio. He’s the showman roaming the open road on the 2018 Blues Caravan tour, bringing it to the people each night with compadrés Mike Zito and Vanja Sky. He’s the visionary songwriter whose latest studio release – Let It Go – is already tipped as an album of 2018. It’s a work ethic that would leave most musicians gasping, but for this creative dynamo – now entering his fifth decade at the head of the blues pack – it’s all in a day’s work.
Starting the blues calendar with a bang in January 2018, Let It Go feels like a homecoming. After all, this latest studio album sees Bernard return to Ruf Records: the iconic German label that was created in 1994 to serve as a home for his father, the much-missed Chicago heavyweight, Luther Allison. Just as significant, Let It Go also found Bernard recording in the birthplace of the blues – Tennessee – and returns his sound to its raw fundamentals, on 12 songs that hold up without embellishment.
“Let It Go was recorded at Bessie Blue Studio, Stantonville, Tennessee, with legendary music producer Jim Gaines,” recalls Bernard. “We made the decision to not flood the CD with keyboards or horns, to go back to the true basic rhythm section sound – and to show more mature songwriting.”
Since he opened his solo account in 1990 with The Next Generation, Bernard’s songwriting has been on a steep upward trajectory, and Let It Go represents a new peak. On a twelve-song tracklisting, Cruisin For A Bruisin opens proceedings in style, with a clipped funk-blues lick and a lyric that sums up Bernard’s existence since he first guested with his father in the late-’70s (“Gonna groove on down this highway, got my guitar in my hand”).
Same Ole Feeling pines for an absent lover over glassy wah chords, while the upbeat Backdoor Man finds Bernard with a .44 in his hand, investigating a disturbance and fretting that his girl is cheating. The powerful title track calls time on a worn-out relationship (“Our tears are falling, and our river’s run dry”), while Night Train tells of earning a crust in the blues joints of Chicago, set off by a snakey, soulful guitar solo. As for Leave Your Ego, this rough-edged Hendrix-worthy blues tips a hat to Allison Snr. “It’s all about my dad’s saying: ‘Leave your ego, play the music, love the people’. We honour that quote everyday…”
As a questing artist who once noted that “blues is about experimenting”, Bernard isn’t afraid to twist the blueprint on Let It Go, evidenced by moments like the jazzy scuttle of Kiddio, or the closing acoustic lament of his father’s Castle. Yet the bandleader still wears his love for the genre proudly, most notably on Blues Party, where he imagines a celestial jam session with a house band including fallen titans from John Lee Hooker to Robert Johnson (“They’ll be hangin’ out in heaven/A blues party that never ends”).
No doubt, Luther is also looking down – and he’d surely be proud of his youngest son’s achievements to date. Born in Chicago on November 26th, 1965, Bernard spent his formative years absorbing the blues greats – from T-Bone Walker to B.B. King – through his absent father’s vinyl collection. His own talent was announced at the age of 13, when he surprised Allison Snr by playing along with his first record, Love Me Mama, note-for-note. “He freaked out and said, ‘Tonight you’re gonna record with me’. That was my first recording. I played You Don’t Love Me No More and Sweet Home Chicago.”
Following that first live appearance in Peoria, Illinois, Bernard juggled his education with regular sets on the Allison stage, and his reputation was soon so established that he went direct from high school into the great Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. As he once recalled: “Koko and Pops Taylor taught me the dos and don’ts of the road.”
By the ’80s, Bernard was moving in the orbit of fellow gunslingers like Stevie Ray Vaughan – a friendship that brought further colours to his dazzling guitar palette – and in 1989, he echoed his father’s decision to embrace Europe, taking up residence in Paris. The release of The Next Generation in 1990 proved the starting pistol for an astonishingly prolific solo career, and in 2018, Bernard can look back on an acclaimed early catalogue that takes in Hang On, Funkifino, No Mercy, Born With The Blues, Keepin’ The Blues Alive and Times Are Changing. Since the millennium, releases have included Across The Water, Storms Of Life, Kentucky Fried Blues and Higher Power, while in recent times, there’s been the Energized live release, the collaborative Allison Burnside Express alongside Cedric Burnside and 2015’s In The Mix. Like we say: he’s unstoppable.
It’s an auspicious catalogue by an acclaimed genre heavyweight – but Let It Go is a potent reminder that for Bernard Allison, there’s always another gear. “We all just came together as a group to create this album,” he considers, “to show our chemistry as friends and bandmates. My favourite memory was watching the faces of everyone involved in the session. Everyone came to lay it on down and gave 110%…”
Bernard Allison – Let It Go
Label: Ruf Records
Release date: 26 January 2018
01 Crusin for a Bluesin
02 Same Ole Feeling
03 Backdoor Man
04 Let It Go
05 Night Train
07 Leave Your Ego
08 Blues Party
09 Hey Lady
10 Look out Mabel
11 You’re Gonna Need Me
Photo: Lisa Gray
By Dave Resto
Bill Nutt, Correspondent
Tradition is important to the blues, according to Bernard Allison, who traced his appreciation for the music to his father. Before his death in 1997, Luther Allison played with a who’s who of bluesmen, including Howlin’ Wolf and James Cotton.
“I grew up with all that music, being the baby of the family,” said Bernard Allison. “I carry that with me, with some gospel, some funk, some R&B. But I pretty much always knew I’d play the blues. I wanted to do what my dad did.”
Photo: Lisa Gray
Photos: Christophe Rascle
Photo: Lisa Gray
Photo: Lisa Gray
Nashville Blues Society - Don Crow
Bernard Allison review…February 16, 2018…..
Posted February 17, 2018 by dvcrow56
LET IT GO
RUF RECORDS 1252
CRUISIN FOR A BLUESIN–SAME OLE FEELING–BACKDOOR MAN–LET IT GO–NIGHT TRAIN–KIDDIO–LEAVE YOUR EGO–BLUES PARTY–HEY LADY–LOOK OUT MABEL–YOU’RE GONNA NEED ME–CASTLE
Bernard Allison, aside from being the son of blues legend Luther Allison, is a high;y-accomplished and critically-acclaimed bluesman in his own right. Now, he sho’ nuff learned at the feet of his father, recording with him for the first time at the age of thirteen. Over his solo career, which began in 1990, he’s always held true to the traditions of the blues, while putting his own spin on things. You can hear it for yourself on his latest set, “Let It Go,” for Ruf Records.
There are party anthems, funked-up struts, love songs, and a touching tribute to Pops over these twelve cuts. The whole thing was laid down here in western Middle Tennessee, at Bessie Blue Studios in Stantonville, with Jim Gaines producing.
Bernard, along with fellow Ruf artists Vanja Sky and Mike Zito, are bent on bringing great blues to the world as the 2018 Blues Caravan tour kicks off. The set opens with that party groove, with the funky blues of “Crusin For A Bluesin.” Bernard busts out his slide for the dream-sequenced tale of a cheatin’ lover and her “Backdoor Man,” and channels one of his father’s lifelong mantras about performing in general, “Leave Your Ego, play the music, love the people.”
He gets into some fine funk-charged blues with the strut of “Night Train,” and follows that freight train chug on the rollicking, Sun-splashed, “Look Out Mabel.” We had two favorites, too. Bernard pays tribute to his father with a somber acoustic read of Luther’s “Castle,” which closes the set. And, down at Club Heaven, the “Blues Party” never ends, with the slide-heavy boogie that name-checks many of the dearly-departed legends,.
Bernard Allison carries on the family tradition of bringing great blues to fans all over the globe. “Let It Go” reminds us all that he is indeed an unstoppable visionary in the world of contemporary blues! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
Bernard Allison Lets It Go
BY GRANT BRITT , STAFF REVIEWER
FEBRUARY 6, 2018
Bernard Allison is as bad as his daddy. Luther laid it down hot and nasty with his Les Pauls and Strats, using his teeth as much as his hands to get his message across. Like his dad, Bernard is an Freddie King disciple. King's fiery licks flicker throughout Allison's riff catalog, scuttling along the fretboard as he reaches flameout territory.
His latest release takes him back to Ruf records, the label that helped revitalize daddy Luther's US career in the '90s after he had been living in Paris for nearly a decade. Luther Allison's American comeback was released in Germany on Ruf as 1994's Bad Love and in the US on Alligator as Soul Fixin' Man.
But Bernard needs no comeback. He's been coming on harder and stronger since his formative years right out of high school, playing with Koko Taylor then touring and recording with his dad before going out on his own.
He wrote most of the material on Let It Go. “Night Train” is not the sweaty James Brown chitlin circuit whistle stop shout-out, but a funky strut that slinks along at a pace slow enough to swing up and ride along with 'til Allison puts a torch to the wheels, Freddie King sparks flying as he blows by, leaving you bruised and bleeding beside the tracks.
“Kiddio” is a jazzy change of pace, the Brook Benton/Clyde Otis composition gliding along with a mellow big band vibe, Allison's guitar solo feeling more like George Benson than anyone in the Allison family.
Allison name- and guitar-checks just about anyone who is anybody in blues on “Blues Party,” channeling snatches of Albert Collins and Elmore James while giving honorable mention to Robert Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Stevie Ray, and of course daddy Luther along with Johnny Clyde Copeland and Gatemouth Brown, finishing with a blistering tribute to B. B. King's wiggly string-bending prowess that has some Johnny Winter snuck in there as well to grease things up a touch.
“Hey Lady” commingles Curtis Mayfield and Jimi Hendrix for a wah-wah punctuated smoothie.
Allison finishes up with a couple of daddy's, mellowing out Luther's B.B. King-inspired vocal roar and knocking some of the sharper edges off dad's original solos on “You Gonna Need Me.”
For “Castle,” Allison rearranges Luther's Ry Cooder-ish bluesy version to folky country, adopting an unlikely vocal blend of Jim Croce and Darius Rucker.
It's good, solid work passed on from father to son, honored and honed to a brilliant shine.