Soul Fixin’ Man

Luther Allison

Alligator, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By all rights, Luther Allison should have been in the upper echelon of blues royalty, alongside such luminaries as B.B. King, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy. His soulful singing and guitar playing earned him fame in Europe, where he was achieving significant success in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s. But his choice to relocate to Paris cost him stateside, where he had been likewise building a name for himself.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

By 1994, he was ready to reconquer his home territory. His first outing in that regard, 1994’s Soul Fixin’ Man, was a triumphant (if slightly uneven) declaration that he was back and was going to be taken on his own terms. Fortunately for the listener, those terms are beneficial to all.

From the opening track “Bad Love,” Allison sets the tone for the listener: not only is this his show, but he’s going to make it an enjoyable one for everyone to experience. More an amalgam of Chicago blues and classic soul, he pours his being into these efforts; songs like the title track, “I Want To Know” and “You Been Teasin’ Me” all serve as ample evidence that Allison was more than ready to reclaim what could have been his for the taking, had he not focused his efforts overseas.

Missteps? There were, to my ears, only two. The vocal and organ performance of “The Things I Used To Do” doesn’t play on Allison’s true strength of guitar-based blues, and falls flat. Similarly, the follow-up track “Love String” feels like Allison and his band are in recovery mode, trying to win the listener back into their camp, but it just doesn’t have the same power as earlier songs on the disc. Fortunately, by the time one gets to “Freedom,” the album’s closer, balance has been restored, and it finishes on a solid note.

Soul Fixin’ Man was to be the opening salvo for Allison’s eventual staking of a claim to one of the many thrones of blues, but his campaign would sadly be cut short a few years later when cancer claimed his life. And even if this had been the only disc released in Allison’s return to prominence in the States, it would have been a powerful enough statement to say he deserved to be recognized as one of the genre’s greats.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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