The great blues singer and guitarist Luther Allison died in August of 1997, just a month after being diagnosed with a malignant lung tumor. Four days prior to that diagnosis, he played a blistering show in Montreal; it was filmed for later airplay on Canadian television, and most of the show is captured on this very fine CD/DVD set (several of the songs not included on the CD are covered on the DVD and vice-versa). The bitter irony is obvious here -- Allison is at the peak of his powers, and yet at the same time, it could be said that he's playing like a man with only weeks to live. The urgency and fire of his playing and singing on numbers like his slide showcase "It Hurts Me Too," and the powerfully swinging, barrelhouse blues of "Will It Ever Change" and "You Can, You Can" would put musicians half his age to shame. But what really sets him apart is the relentlessly positive nature of his message: whether preaching social uplift on "Move from the Hood" or entreating a reluctant lover on "You Can, You Can," Allison always seems to be encouraging and exhorting more than pleading or bemoaning. His "talking guitar" shtick is charming, his slide playing is beautifully greasy, and the gleeful disregard with which he struts back and forth over the lines that separate the blues from R&B and rock is inspiring. Songs from the Road is a bittersweet but more than welcome look back at one of America's lost musical treasures.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2