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Luther Allison - A Legend Never Dies:Essential Recordings 1976-1997 album review

Late Chicago blues giant gets a colossal monument

Born in 1939 sharecropping Arkansas but coming of age in Chicago’s blues niteries, Luther Allison followed the classic path of struggling in his home country, then relocating to Europe after enjoying its receptive audiences.

An exceptional, relentlessly impassioned singer-guitarist who wrote his own songs, Allison already had a name from the albums he’d released since 1969, including three as Motown’s first blues signing.

After moving to France in 1983, his recording career took off, boosted by his agent starting Ruf Records to release him, and organising his return to the US to record 1993’s Bad Love, 1996’s Blue Streak and 1997’s sublime finale Reckless. They join 1992’s riveting unplugged peak, Hand Me Down My Moonshine, and others in this handsome box set marking the 20th anniversary of his death from cancer in 1997.

After returning to the US, Allison won armfuls of blues awards, gigged relentlessly and jammed with fellow giants, hailed as ‘the Bruce Springsteen of the blues’ thanks to his ability to expand its themes to address cutting-edge social conditions.

The set also includes four DVDs, a .45 of his blistering take on the Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want and a memorabilia-stacked book.