soulful blues

Soul Fixin' Man (Alligator)
Luther Allison

By Kevin Gibson

Luther Allison is a guy who made quite a splash out of Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s, and just up and moved to Europe. He stayed for some ten years, as a matter of fact, but now he's back.

His 12-song album, Soul Fixin' Man, consisting mostly of songs written by Allison and guitarist James Solberg, takes a soulful approach to blues, throwing in a lot of backup to fill in the gaps between his cutting guitar solos.

The keyboards are understated but necessary to the mix, and The Memphis Horns add a little something without taking up too much of Allison's stage. The disc was masterfully recorded and produced in Memphis, Tenn., by Jim Gaines, who has worked with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, and others.

Allison doesn't borrow much from any of his peers, however. This collection doesn't pack the hard, shotgun-style kick of a Vaughan album, but instead chooses its own kind of blues, falling somewhere between Chicago and Memphis with enough soul for both cities.

While songs like "Bad Love" (now that's a blues tune) and "Middle of the Road" rely heavily on Allison's mean guitar, "She Was Born That Way" has a more rhythmic, soulful feel. It's quite a jump, but well worth the trip.