Get this crazy baby off my head!


Bernard Allison

Bernard Allison - Storms Of Life - 2002 - Tone-Cool Records

"...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 from an interview on KFAI Radio/USA.

The storm that Bernard Allison currently seems to be weathering is one involving a crisis of identity. Storms of Life, Allison’s second album for Tone-Cool Records, explores funk, reggae, rock, and a variety of blues styles. There are also compositions by such varied and well known artists as Mark Knopfler, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, Anders Osborne, and Allison’s father, the late great bluesman, Luther Allison. Unfortunately, there is no cohesive agent holding it all together. Allison’s frail vocal stylings and potent guitar playing change with the territory in chameleon like fashion, leaving the listener confused and ultimately bored, as if having spent the evening in a local bar listening to a competent cover band. In the press release for Storms of Life, and in a number of interviews, Allison says that his father once told him, “Don’t be afraid to go outside of the blues; don’t let them label you like they did me.” It seems Allison has taken this bit of paternal advice to an almost paranoid level. If there is a redeeming aspect of Storms of Life, it is Allison’s slide guitar work. There he exhibits a creativity, expressiveness, and musical authority that virtually every other track on the album lacks. “Slip Slidin’”, the smoking opening cut, is a solo slide guitar instrumental, reminiscent of Johnny Winter, who apparently showed Allison a thing or two about slide techniques and open tunings. And though Winter’s influence is apparent, Allison’s personality shines through. However, the track promises much more than the album ultimately delivers. He follows up with a series of duds. “Storms of Life”, the title track, sounds like an out take from a Walter “Wolfman” Washington album, which in itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, if only the vocal were more confident. Ironically, Allison sings “I wanna be found, found, found / Can I be found, found, found / I wanna be found, found, found / Pulled from these storms of life”. At times Allison wears his influences brazenly on his sleeve. On “Down South”, a run-of-the-mill shuffle, and “Snake Bit”, a blues rocker, he seems to be channeling the spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughn, playing phrases and licks taken directly from Vaughn’s hit, “Crossfire”. There must be something wrong with the medium though, because the tone just ain’t the same. The great poet T.S. Elliot once wrote that amateurs borrow but professionals steal. On these two tracks Allison merely borrows. Fortunately, Allison revisits slide country a number of times. He tears it up on “Speed Slide”, a fun, upbeat tune with a Bo Diddley beat. Then he follows with “I Wanna Drive You Home”, not only a great slide piece, but a great song as well and possibly the high point of the album. “Fist Full of Dirt” is another tune on which Allison demonstrates his ample slide guitar chops. The fourth track of the album, “Just Do Me Any Way You Want”, is a reggae tune and the point when one would imagine most newcomers to Bernard Allison’s music would simply put in another CD. “Just Do Me” has no business whatsoever on this album. Other songs in this camp are “I Think I Love You Too Much”, which would fit snugly onto a Robert Cray album, and the last track, “Goodbye Little Girl”, another shuffle, but recorded with a full horn section. It comes so completely out of the blue, one begins to wonder if he’s listening to the same album. What has resulted in Storms of Life is a sampling of bluesy styles, recorded by a talented individual who, possibly out of respect for his late father, has spread himself too darn thin. There is, if not potential for greatness here, at least potential to make much better and more entertaining albums. One can only hope that Allison uses Storms of Life to identify what it is he does best, which, whether he likes it or not, is play the blues. By & © Chip O'Brien 17 October 2002 © 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved. http://www.popmatters.com/review/allisonbernard-storms/

Bernard Allison's debut album for Tone Cool, 2000's Across the Water, was a U.S. breakout release for the talented guitarist. With Storms of Life, Allison shows that the powerhouse blues/rock sound that characterized its predecessor is an integral part of his repertoire. "Down South" and "Mean Town Blues" rock with a fierce intensity. Allison also demonstrates a growing versatility as a songwriter/player. "I Wanna Drive You Home" is a very cool slice of electrified country blues, and the instrumentals "Slip Slidin' " and "Speed Slide" showcase Allison's impressive slide guitar chops. "Reaching Out" is a terrific, jazzy song, coming from a musical mind set Allison should explore further. Also check out the Jimmy Reed vibe and the nasty guitar sound on "Fist Full of Dirt." Allison is in top form; expect career-defining albums from him for the rest of the decade. © PVV © 2014 Billboard. All Rights Reserved http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/74721/storms-of-life

Luther Allison must be smiling upon his son right now as he sits at the side of the almighty in the heavens above. Son Bernard has carried on the tradition of playing the blues as his father once did. “Storms Of Life” is the latest offering from Allison. This CD is all cutting edge blues rock guitar work from one of the premier six- string maestros of the blues idiom. Out of 13 tracks only two are originals, although what he covers is excellent, I think that he is fully capable of doing more original material. “Slip Slidin” and “Speed Slide” certainly indicate that Allison has what it takes to write a damned good blues song. The lyrics and music fall right in line like any good flowing song would. I feel a certain amount of disappointment and frustration when high caliber musicians rely on other people’s music. But I have to say he covers some great tracks by some of the biggest names in the biz-Johnny Winter, his dad, ZZ Top, Mark Knopfler, and Leon Russell. So you know that you are getting quality, even if it belongs to someone else. And it does sound so awfully good. The best song on the entire CD is “Snake Bit Again.” Allison’s playing really smokes; it ranges from laid back and matter-of-fact to simply explosive. This kind of mixture is found consistently throughout the recording, and it makes for a fine blues record, and one that becomes more memorable with each listen. By & © Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck 2002-06-21 © 1997-2014 MusicDish LLC., all rights reserved. http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=6256

“Storms of Life” demonstrates Bernard Allison’s mastery of the guitar and also his love for both traditional electric and contemporary blues styles. One quote describes this album as “all cutting edge blues rock guitar work from one of the premier six- string maestros of the blues idiom". Listen to Bernard’s great “Keepin' the Blues Alive” album [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 115 Mb]


1 Slip Slidin' - Bernard Allison
2 Storms Of Life - Kevin Stroud & J.S.Tucker
3 Down South - Luther Allison
4 Just Do Me Any Way You Want - Rico McFarland
5 I Think I Love You Too Much - Mark Knopfler
6 Mean Town Blues - Johnny Winter
7 Speed Slide - Bernard Allison
8 I Wanna Drive You Home - Frank Beard, Billy Gibbons & Dusty Hill
9 Snake Bit Again - Anders Osborne
10 Reaching Out - Luther Allison
11 Fistful Of Dirt - Daniel Patrick Tierney
12 Help Me Through The Day - Leon Russell
13 Goodbye Little Girl - Deadric Malone


Bernard Allison - Guitar, Vocals
Paul Diethelm - Rhythm Guitar
Jassen Wilber, David Smith - Bass
Ricky Peterson - Hammond B-3 Organ, Piano, Strings
Bruce McCabe - Piano
Rob Stupka, Ron Sutton - Drums
Chickie Perez - Percussion
Brian Simmonds, Jim Kogl - Tenor Saxophone
David Eiland - Saxophone
Larry McCabe - Trombone
Richard Rosenblatt - Harmonica
Kathy Wilson, Kate Wilson, Fred Steele, J.D. Steele - Background Vocals


Bernard Allison is the guitar-playing, singing, and songwriting son of late legendary blues guitarist Luther Allison. True to form for this chip off the old block, the young Allison injects every bit as much energy into his live shows as his father did. Bernard counts among his influences icons like Albert King, Muddy Waters, and Freddie King, and later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter. He began accompanying his famous father to blues festivals in the early '70s. There, he was introduced to a who's who of Chicago blues stars: Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor, and Albert King, among others. When he was seven or eight, he began having aspirations of becoming a guitar slinger like his father. Luther Allison was more than just a casual record collector, and so Bernard benefited from his father and brothers' collections of classic blues and gospel. After graduating from high school, Bernard began playing with Koko Taylor in her touring band. He stayed with Taylor's band until 1985, when he left to hustle up his own gigs as Bernard Allison & Back Talk. Bernard spent a lot of time in Canada with his first band, and later rejoined Taylor and her Blues Machine for another two years in the late '80s. After joining his father in Europe for a live recording, Bernard was asked to join Luther's touring band and become his European bandleader. Luther helped his son along with the finer points of showmanship for several years until Bernard was good enough to lead his own trio or quartet. At Christmastime in 1989, while both were living together in Paris, the elder Allison arranged to give his son the most precious gift for budding musicians: studio time to record his first album. Bernard's debut, Next Generation, was recorded for Mondo Records using musicians from his dad's band. His other European label releases include Hang On, No Mercy, and Funkifino. In December 1996, Bernard was contacted by Cannonball Records founder Ron Levy. Bernard was home in Chicago visiting family at Christmas, and hadn't brought any of his guitars or other equipment with him. Levy wanted something based in traditional electric blues, with a few bones for newer fans of the idiom who had jumped on the blues bandwagon after 1990. Bernard released his stunning U.S. debut, Keepin' the Blues Alive, in early 1997, receiving a great deal of critical acclaim. On his successful tour of clubs around the U.S. in the latter half of 1997, Bernard was joined by drummer Ray "Killer" Allison (no relation) and Buddy Guy bassist Greg Rzab, among others. Times Are Changing followed a year later. In mid-2000, Across the Water was released. Based in Paris full-time, Bernard Allison has the comfort and security that the multitude of blues clubs and festivals around Europe can provide. © Richard Skelly © 2014 AllMusic, a division of All Media Network, LLC. | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bernard-allison-mn0000047273/biography


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. 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.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. 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. "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". © www.rufrecords.de/

1 comment:

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