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The Otherside

Bernard Allison 3/28/2011


As the son of blues great Luther Allison, Bernard was a natural to follow in his father's footsteps. Sure, they were huge shoes to fill, but Bernard surely has the talent, both instrumentally and vocally, to make it in the notoriously tough blues genre. And the name recognition doesn't hurt either. But Allison's career has been a series of fits and starts since his debut in 1994. Substance abuse didn't help matters, nor did bouncing around to various labels, most of which didn't have the influence or resources to get Allison's mix of rock, soul, and blues in front of enough ears to let him cross over to a larger audience. Enter, or reenter, David Z., who has done quality work with similarly styled artists such as Ana Popovic, John Mayall, Jimmy Thackery, Mike Zito, and Buddy Guy, among many others, including Allison's 2002 outing Storms of Life, arguably his finest recorded moment. The addition of subtle drum machines to the guitarist's raw sound is a bid to keep him contemporary, and even though this set jumps styles somewhat randomly, it's a generally successful stab at displaying Allison's substantial talents. Perhaps in an attempt to further broaden the approach, Allison hands vocals over to both veteran Lonnie Brooks for a by-the-numbers midtempo Chicago blues-rocking "Leavin' the Bayou" and keyboardist/songwriter Bruce McCabe, who sings his own "Still Rainin'," one of the album's best tunes and most powerful performances. Sax player Jose Ned James is also featured, bringing a horn presence that relieves some of the focus from Allison's guitar. The programmed drums take some getting used to on the tracks where they appear, but work well with the funky rhythms of "Tired of Tryin'." After a short instrumental, Allison opens with a straightforward run through of "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)" that won't make anyone forget Bobby "Blue" Bland's hit version but effectively displays the guitarist's R&B vocal chops. He even goes for a crossover pop hit on the top-down summer groove of "Simple as That," new territory for him that may surprise old fans but might also bring new ones to the fold. A cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" that hews dangerously close to the original fits well into the album's more soulful groove, with Allison toning down the guitar fireworks for a short yet terse lead that shares time with keyboard and sax solos. Bernard closes with a relatively obscure slow blues cover of his dad's "Let's Try it Again," a showcase for his gritty, expressive vocals and nuanced guitar, which remain the constants on this sturdy and diverse disc. ~ Hal Horowitz
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Send It In Bernard Allison 1:38
  3. 2 I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (the Way You Treated Me) Bernard Allison 3:42
  4. 3 Tired of Tryin Bernard Allison 4:48
  5. 4 As Simple As That Bernard Allison 3:16
  6. 5 The Otherside Bernard Allison 3:52
  7. 6 Slide Master Bernard Allison 5:13
  8. 7 Allison Way Bernard Allison 4:41
  9. 8 Still Rainin Bernard Allison null:null
  10. 9 Leavin the Bayou Bernard Allison 5:19
  11. 10 Life Goes On Bernard Allison 3:35
  12. 11 Fire Bernard Allison 3:59
  13. 12 Clear Vision Bernard Allison 4:23
  14. 13 Let's Try It Again Bernard Allison 6:24

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