Our top 10 Luther Allison list presents ten of the best songs released by an American blues artist. Born in 1939, Luther Allison was inspired to play music when still a young boy. Before he turned ten, he was already touring with a gospel group under the moniker The Southern Travellers. Despite his family relocating from Arkansas to Chicago, Luther Allison remained true to his passion for music. he took it upon himself to learn the guitar while being inspired by blues artists who came before him. Three years after attending Farragut High School, he dropped out of school.
His reason for dropping out of school was to have adequate time around nightclubs where he hoped to bag a deal to perform. Luther Allison would join his brother in the Ollie Lee Allison Band during this time. After some while, Luther Allison teamed up with his brothers to form The Four Jivers, an ensemble that played music at the clubs. The blues singer Howlin’ Wolf noticed his vocal and guitar skills. Howlin’ Wolf would later invite him to the stage for several performances. Before the legendary blues guitar artist Freddie King called him up, Luther Allison spent some time playing with electric blues guitarist and singer Jimmy Dawkins. Even though his dream of playing at the local clubs was now a reality, would he get to bigger stages for greater glory?
Luther Allison spent the better part of his ’50s and ’60s playing music in the clubs. Moving to California, he met with Sunnyland Slim and Shakey Jake Harris, with who he worked with for a year. A solo career was not far from launching having him seek to sign a recording contract. Delmark Records offered him a recording deal where he released his debut album Love Me Mama (1969). After nationwide tours to promote his debut album, Luther Allison signed a deal with Motown Records. At Motown Records, he released three studio albums, all of which were released between 1972 and 1976. However, he would end his contract with the label in 1976, having him move to France the following year.
Luther Allison would later sign record contracts with other record labels, including Black & Blue, Rumble, JSP, Alligator, and Ruf, among others. He would continue playing in clubs and other high-profile arenas. Specifically, Luther Allison was famed for his powerful performances and touching guitar solos. Thanks to his inspirational skills, he won several awards throughout his music career. After his death, Luther was inducted (posthumously) into the Blues Hall of Fame. Among artists he inspired were blues guitarists Reggie Sears, Chris Beard, and his son Bernard Allison. Here we present the best Luther Allison songs from his over twenty albums.
#10 – Living In The House of Blues
Ushering us to the top 10 Luther Allison songs is the piercing hit “Living in the House of Blues.” The song is featured on his album Reckless (1997). This was his third album released under the record label Alligator. “Living in the House of Blues” finds Luther Allison at the peak of his performance ability. This blues legend blends his magical guitar skills with a full commanding voice to deliver perfection on this hit.
#9 – Should I Wait
“Should I Wait” is a three-minute song delivered in a mid-tempo. As you can tell from the lyrics, Luther Allison seems to have been meeting up with a lady he loves. However, her hesitation in the meet-ups seems to cause Luther trouble. He wonders why the lady seems not composed for the relationship. Gladly, he knows that love should come naturally; hence he chooses not to wait anymore. Luther Allison delivers an emotive vocal delivery superimposed on superb guitar licks that make this song quite catchy.
#8 – It Hurts Me Too
Coming in at number eight is the blues song “It Hurts Me Too.” The song is a rendition of a blues standard first recorded by Tampa Red in 1940. Luther Allison featured this cover song on his album More from Berlin (1990). He maintains the bluesy feel that we feel from the original song. However, he adds a pinch of emotions to his trademark powerful performances. His rendition reminds many of Elmore James and Junior Wells’ covers of the same song.
#7 – Raggedy And Dirty
“Raggedy and Dirty” is a musical gem from Luther Allison’s album Bad News is Coming (1972). This is one of the best original songs by the blues singer and guitarist. Again, Luther Allison delivers an awe-inspiring vocal performance that oozes energy and passion. In addition, the song features some funky rhythms and soul elements. “Raggedy and Dirty” has been covered by several artists, including his son Bernard Allison, Devon Allman, and Anika Chambers.
#6 – You Upset Me Baby
Number six on our top 10 Luther Allison songs is the hit “You Upset Me Baby.” The song was originally released by one of the Three Kings of the Blues Guitar, B.B. King. Luther Allison is among the many artists to have covered this blues hit. Other artists who tried top B.B. King’s performance include Larry Davis, Young Flowers, Albert King, Eddy Clearwater, Magic Slim, Joe Bonamassa, King Pepper, Gary Moore, and The Ford Blues Band.
#5 – Evil is Going On
Before venturing into a solo career, Luther Allison interacted with tons of artists in the blues scene. One of the artists who saw Luther Allison grow from an unknown singer and guitarist to a reputable blues artist is Howlin’ Wolf, best known for his professional rivalry in the blues scene with Muddy Waters. Luther Allison covered Howlin’ Wolf’s song “Evil is Going On,” featuring his rendition on Bad News is Coming (1972). Other artists who have covered the song include John Hammond, Bacon Fat, Canned Heat, Cactus, Derek, and The Dominos, Wentus Blues Band, and Koko Taylor.
#4 – It’s Been a Long Time
“It’s Been a Long Time” is one of the hits from Bad News is Coming (1972) that feature whispers of Chicago blues. In the song, Luther Allison delivers an exquisite performance on his guitars in this mid-tempo song. His guitar solo at the beginning of the song keeps you hooked to the song from the start till the end. Luther Allison adds intensity and ferocity to his vocals as the song progresses, making his performance quite enthralling.
#3 – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The ultimate goal of life is to achieve happiness if you ask most philosophers. However, The Rolling Stones knew better that achieving happiness is not the easiest job one can take on. This is because once you have what you wished for, there’s always the urge to get better than that or more of the same. The Rolling Stones released the hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to capture their perspective about the pursuit of happiness. A cover to this song by Luther Allison is featured on Paint It Blue: Songs of The Rolling Stones (1997).
#2 – Bad News is Coming
Bad News is Coming (1972) was released at the peak of Luther Allison’s career. The album was the first of three studio albums released under Motown Records. One of the musical gems from the album is “Bad News is Coming.” “Bad News is Coming” features inspiring bluesy guitar riffs. The song performance almost has you forgetting that this is a sad ballad. “Bad News is Coming” showcases his divine work of the ’70s.
#1 – Cherry Red Wine
Coming in at number one is the intense hit “Cherry Red Wine.” The song is featured on the album Blue Streak (1995). It is the exquisite guitar work and rousing vocal performance by Luther Allison that makes this song his best work. “Cherry Red Wine” features incredible blues licks that spell talent and hard work in Luther Allison’s skills. Thanks to this song, Luther Allison saw Blue Streak (1995) win five W. C. Handy Awards.
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