Dirty Linen - p.85
"Luther Allison's son does the old man proud in this live performance....The transitions are impressive."
Personnel: Bernard Allison (vocals, guitars); Mike Vlahakis (keyboards); Jassen Wilber (electric bass); Andrew Thomas (drums).
This double-CD set, also available as a DVD, is a perfectly titled document of a single Bernard Allison show recorded in Gottingen, Germany, on October 20, 2005. The band is tight and Allison is charged up, playing his rough-and-tough blues-rock like he invented it. The set is his usual mix of originals and covers, predominantly of his father Luther's songs, four of which appear here, with a lot of jamming in between. But even though the sound is excellent and the playing tight and spontaneous, the performances suffer from the tunes being stretched too thin. This is less of a problem on the DVD, as the visuals compensate for the extended solos that don't always equate quantity with quality. But as solid and rugged a guitarist as Allison is, he doesn't have enough creativity as a string-bender or vocalist to justify the length of these tracks. The band is muscular and more than capable, but lacks the subtlety to bring anything other than meat-and-potatoes playing to the table. Keyboardist Mike Vlahakis, originally from Luther Allison's band, is particularly impressive as he shifts from electric piano to organ seamlessly, and fills in plenty of holes. The 11-minute instrumental slide showcase "The Walk," which opens disc two, is a good example of where too much of a good thing, in this case a standard Bo Diddley beat enlivened by Allison's flame-thrower slide playing, yields diminishing returns. Certainly if you were there, this would have been an exciting showcase for Allison's slide skills, but having to endure it on an album is an exercise in stamina. The guitarist is also fond of his wah-wah pedal, a dated sound that tends to make his solos, especially on disc two, more monotonous than they are. Still, there is plenty to like here, especially if you have experienced Allison, or even his dad, in concert. The younger Allison earns every bit of his paycheck as he charges through a soulful, rock-oriented format best exemplified by the venomous "Snake Bit Again" and the stirring Luther ballad "A Change Must Come." It's certainly all the live Allison you will ever need, at least of the younger version, but those who want to get the most enjoyment from this show should spring for the DVD, where you can watch every sweat-soaked minute from the front row. ~ Hal Horowitz