Let It Go Bernard Allison
- 1Cruisin For A Bluesin04:58
- 2Same Ole Feeling04:06
- 3Backdoor Man03:51
- 4Let It Go05:18
- 5Night Train03:49
- 7Leave Your Ego05:16
- 8Blues Party04:50
- 9Hey Lady04:50
- 10Look Out Mabel03:34
- 11You're Gonna Need Me04:40
Info for Let It Go
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 a top 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 Bluesin 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, Chills and Thrills, The Otherside and Live at the Jazzhaus, followed by 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, vocals, Organ B3, guitar
John T. McGhee, guitar
George Moye, bass
Mario Dawson, drums, tambourine, backing vocal (Leave Your Ego)
Jose Ned James, saxophone (Kiddio)
was introduced to the roots of black music and playing electric guitar by his father, the blues legend Luther Allison.
He joined the tourband of Luther Allison in 1989 after a furious collaboration of 'Father & Son' at the '89 Chicago Blues Festival. Bernard released his first solo album in 1990 and the title was program: 'The Next Generation'. He started touring with his own group all over Europe and released several albums, taking the tradition of black music he grew up with into the new century melting the influences into his own brand - Bernard Allison.
"It's just a big pleasure for me to continue my father's legacy, but you know I don't go out and try to be Luther Allison. I just go and do what I've learned from my Dad and the likes of Koko Taylor, or Stevie Ray Vaughan or Albert King. So, I'm trying to keep the blues alive Bernard Allison style." (Bernard Allison)
Born in Chicago on November 26th, 1965, the youngest of nine children Bernard Allison was first introduced to the roots of black music and the art of the electric guitar by his father, the late great Luther Allison. Bernard made his first appearance on record at age 13, when he played on a live LP his father recorded in Peoria, IL.
"I didn't start to play 'til I was maybe 10 years of age" Bernard recalled "I picked up the guitar, listened to records. I was in grade school and I played with the high school jazz band. They thought I was reading the sheet music, but actually I was making up everything I could play."
Soon after graduating from High School, he began a three-year guitar apprenticeship in Koko Taylor's high-flying Blues Machine. He also played in the late Willie Dixon's Blues All-Stars and performed with his Dad at the 1983 Blues Festival - one of the event's highlights. Along the way, Bernard picked up slide guitar tips from Johnny Winter and in the 80's also learned from the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.
With those experiences under his belt, Bernard moved to Paris in 1989 to live and play the blues with his father. He joined the tourband of Luther Allison after a furious collaboration of "Father & Son" at the '89 Chicago Blues Festival. A recording of this formation is to be heard on the Luther Allison album "Let's Try It again" (RUF Records). Bernard released his first solo album in 1990 with the significant title "The Next Generation". In 1999, two years after Luther passed away, Bernard decided to move back to the States to go back to his roots and push his career in his native country. Bernard seems to have inherited Luther's knack for igniting audiences, but he's no clone of his famous father. He is definitely blazing his own path with a style that reflects a unique mix of traditional and modern influences. The Allison torch has been passed, and it's clear that Bernard takes his role as its bearer very seriously. He's assumed the challenge of keeping the blues alive and growing - a commitment he renews every time he takes the stage.
In 2004/2005, Bernard Allison released his 6th album on Ruf Records, "Higher Power". Whether you pay your respects to Bernard Allison as one of the high powered blues guitarists in the world or you, like Bernard, pay your respects to that Higher Power that guides you through life, these are 13 songs Bernard sings that will speak to you.
Bernard totes the same smokin' six string shooter that his late father Luther Allison assaulted the blues with. And he is blessed with his father's soulful voice, spiritual devotion, and a musical freedom which experiments with the blues.
"In order for anything to expand, you have to take a risk," says Bernard. "Blues is about experimenting and getting your feelings across to someone else. And if you want to keep it going, people are going to have to give it all a chance because we're losing all our creators. Because I've been taking risks on every album I've recorded, this record is just a logical progression from everything else I've done. Instead of playing rippin' 12 bar blues guitar over and over, there are bluesy songs, soul, funk, R&B songs and a couple of rock things which shows the overall musicianship of Bernard Allison."
The major risk Bernard takes here is in his song writing, where he is confident enough to strip away the layers and bare himself to the world. It has taken Bernard a long time to feel free to talk or write a song about what's going on within him or his personal tragedies. After decades of chasing the muse, Bernard is now settled down raising a family without the old personal vices. Thus the music he's written speaks of the inner peace and companionship every human searches for. The CD opens with Bernard's trademark blues rock guitar, but it rocks out with a moral. Therapists recommend getting problems out, instead of concealing them. In the highly personal opening song "I've Learned My Lesson," Bernard sheds himself of any disguises and admits to the world the inner personal problems that have held him back. That is until his personal Higher Power delivered him safely to inner peace.
Other original songs like "Stay With Me Tonight" or "Next To You" speak intimately about his love of the security of his family. While in other songs like "New Life," Bernard goes even further by apologizing to those he's hurt by word or deed.
And that's the magic power of the blues. If Bernard's honesty touches just one person with a similar struggles then the power of the blues works. Then Bernard becomes the higher power by healing another troubled soul. "Musically and lyrically this is definitely a mature effort. I've been through a lot since the passing of my father. I'm married and I have started my own family. This music comes from everyday responsibility and lifestyle. I'm calling the album Higher Power because there were times when I had to pray to my own higher power to help me through. Immediately after my father's death I was still touring, I wanted to continue because that was what he wanted me to do. I feel that with his presence, he's still, even today, with me everywhere I go, and the help of my higher power, there's no going wrong. That is the message in many of these songs."
Amid all the daily pop culture pressures to be the next American Idol why does Bernard stay rooted in the blues? "The blues is my roots. Regardless of how far outside of the blues I reach for tones, I can't ever leave the blues. Whenever I play, all those guitar parts are Luther Allison coming through me. My dad was the same way, he wasn't all blues. He loved Otis Redding or Chuck Berry. I'm just showing where my influences come from. And respecting the people who got me to this point."