Living Blues - 11/03, p.94
"...Allison triumphs over inconsequential lyrics, throws life into worn hits, and rips it wide open with two from '96..."
Personnel includes: Luther Allison (vocals, guitar); James Solberg, Bernard Allison (vocals, guitar); Joanna Connor (vocals, slide guitar); Marla Glenn (vocals); Patrick Verbeke (acoustic guitar, backgound vocals); Charlie Bingham, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Otis Grand, Ken Lending, Anthony Palmer (guitar); Effendi Mumtaz (bouzouki); Jorgen Lang (harmonica); Allard Buwaldi (saxophone); Serge Plume (trumpet); Jel Jongen (trombone); Kurt Clayton (piano); Mike Vlahakis (Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards); Bruce Elsensohm (Hammond B-3 organ); Ernest Williams (keyboards); Barry Becket, Kjelt Lauritsen (organ); Dave Smith, Ken Faltinson, Steve Gomes, Jay Golden (bass); Steve Potts, Rob Stupka, Roger Hawkins, Lloyd Anderson, Frank Larsen (drums).
In many cases, collections of musical odds and ends -- a live rarity here, an alternate take there -- can be uneven and inconsistent. And the people they're aimed at -- mainly diehard fans and serious collectors -- are willing to live with that. They have more than just a casual interest in the artist's work, and even the less-from-essential stuff excites and intrigues them. Assembled in 2002 -- five years after Luther Allison's death -- Pay It Forward is the sort of odds-and-ends collection that tends to appeal to diehard fans rather than casual listeners. This CD, which spans 1985-1996, contains an abundance of previously unreleased material and ranges from various live performances to an alternate version of the dark, brooding "Cherry Red Wine." Pay It Forward would probably interest obsessive collectors even if it was wildly inconsistent, but thankfully, these live and studio recordings are generally solid -- and some are even excellent. Although this CD doesn't limit itself to Allison's more essential work, it nonetheless reminds us how productive a time the '80s and '90s were for the late singer/guitarist. Pay It Forward also demonstrates that Allison was more a prolific blues artist -- he was also a prolific soul artist. Allison is quite inspired on a live performance of Willie Dixon's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" (recorded at the Stockholm Jazz and Blues Festival in 1991), but he also has a lot to say when he gets into soul-singer mode on the congenial "I Wanna Be with You," and a sweaty version of Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" (which was recorded live at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland). Again, Pay It Forward isn't recommended to casual listeners, but it's easily recommended to those who count themselves among Allison's hardcore devotees. ~ Alex Henderson