Bernard Allison is unstoppable. He's the face on the magazines and the voice on the radio. He is the show star who will rock the clubs of the Blues Caravan 2018 together with his colleagues Mike Zito and Vanja Sky. He is the songwriter whose latest studio album Let It Go is already a hot tip for 2018. He has a work ethic that would make most other musicians struggle for breath, but for this creative energy miracle, which is already in its 50s, it is nothing special.
Let It Go marks the blues year 2018 with a bang and it feels like Bernard Allison is coming back home, because his new album will be released again on Ruf Records: the label that was founded in 1994 for his father - Chicago blues legend Luther Allison, who died much too early. It is also significant that Bernard recorded Let It Go in Tennessee, the birthplace of blues, and concentrated on the essentials in the sound of the twelve songs. "Let It Go was recorded at Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee, in collaboration with legendary producer Jim Gaines," reports Bernard. "We decided not to flood the CD with keyboards or horns, but to concentrate on the real, clear sound of the rhythm section again - and on even better songwriting.
Since he began his solo career with The Next Generation in 1990, Bernard's songwriting skills have evolved steadily, which proves Let It Go impressively. The album opens in style with "Cruisin For A Bluesin" and describes Bernard's style with his lyrics and funk-blues licks, known since he first appeared on stage with his father in the late 1970s ("Gonna groove on down this highway, got my guitar in my hand").
"Same Ole Feeling" eats for an old love with a crystal-clear wah sound, while Bernard wants to find out, armed with a gun, whether his girlfriend is cheerfully cheating on him. The huge title track describes the end of a exhausted relationship ("Our tears are falling, and our river's run dry") and "Night Train" tells with a soulful guitar solo what it's like to earn a living in Chicago blues clubs. With the Hendrix-worthy "Leave Your Ego" he finally pays tribute to Allison Senior. "It's about what my father used to say:'Leave your ego, play the music, love the people'. We honor this saying every day."
As an artist who is constantly on the lookout and who once said that the blues was all about experimenting, Bernard is not afraid to deviate from the F-scheme. He also shows this in Let It Go, for example in the jazzy "Kiddio" or in his father's final acoustic lamentation song "Castle". But the bandleader also shows his love for the genre, especially at "Blues Party", where he imagines a heavenly jam session with deceased legends like John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson ("They'll be hangin' out in heaven/A blues party that never ends").
Without a doubt, Luther is also watching from above and he would certainly be proud of the achievements of his youngest son so far. Born in Chicago on November 26, 1965, Bernard began listening to the music of blues greats such as T-Bone Walker and B.B. King through his father's record collection. His own talent became obvious when he surprised his father at the age of 13 and played his first album Love Me Mama note for note. "He was totally freaked out and said'Tonight we'll record together', Bernard recalls, "and that's how my first recording came about. I played "You Don't Love Me No More" and "Sweet Home Chicago."
After this first live performance in Peoria, Illinois, Bernard continued his education with regular sets with his father and his reputation was soon so strong that he went straight to Koko Taylor's Blues Machine after high school. "Koko and Pop's Taylor showed me how it went on tour," Bernard remembers.
In the 80's Bernard finally frequented the same circles as his friend Stevie Ray Vaughan (a friendship that brought even more colour to his artistic guitar range) and in 1989 he did the same as his father and moved to Europe. From then on he lived in Paris. The next release The Next Generation in 1990 was supposed to be the start of an amazingly successful solo career and 28 years later Bernard can look back on an extensive and much praised repertoire: Hang On, Funkifino, No Mercy, Born With The Blues, Keepin' The Blues Alive and Times Are Changing. In the new millennium albums such as Across The Water, Storms Of Life, Kentucky Fried Blues and Higher Power were added, while recent releases such as the live album Energized, Chills and Thrills, The Otherside and Live at the Jazzhaus, the Allison Burnside Express in collaboration with Cedric Burnside and In The Mix from 2015 are worth mentioning. As we mentioned at the beginning: He's unstoppable.
The repertoire of the blues heavyweight speaks for itself, but Let It Go reminds us that Bernard Allison manages to keep shifting up a gear. "We all just came together as a group to make this album," says Bernard, "to capture the chemistry between us as friends and band. I preferred to watch the individual faces of everyone during the session. Everyone gave 110%...".
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The blues musician from the USA was born on the 26th of November 1965 in Chicago. Bernard Allison is no less than the son of blues legend Luther Allison, whom he accompanied on his tour in 1989. In 1990 he released his first solo album The Next Generation. By 2017, Bernard Allison has released 18 albums and 2018 is followed by the next album entitled Let IT Go.