More than a few musicologists have noted the parallels between hip-hop and the blues — both involve first-rate storytelling, both can be sexually candid, and both have been known to use dark humor. But there is one major difference between hip-hop and the blues: while hip-hop is extremely youth-driven, the blues world is a lot more receptive to people who are 30 and over. Blues fans realize that someone might have more to say at 35 than he/she did at 20; consequently, blues artists are encouraged to grow and develop, which is a good thing for someone like Bernard Allison. The singer/guitarist showed promise all along, but Kentucky Fried Blues finds a thirtysomething Allison continuing to grow as an artist. This CD isn't called Kentucky Fried Blues because Allison is from Kentucky — Allison gets most of his electric blues inspiration from Chicago and Texas. Rather, the name Kentucky Fried Blues stems from the fact that this CD was recorded live at the WC Handy Blues Festival in June 1999 in Henderson, KY, where a 33-year-old Allison is sounding more and more confident — not only as a bluesman, but also as a soul singer. The blues are the album's main focus, and a blues-oriented approach serves him well on the instrumental "Buzz Me," Buddy Guy's "Leave My Girl Alone," and father Luther Allison's "Life Is a Bitch." But he has no problem getting into soul-singer mode on "Midnight Creeper," which is also by the late Luther Allison. For Bernard Allison, being blues-oriented doesn't mean excluding soul, funk, and rock influences — and it doesn't mean that he can't have some fun with a '60s-like soul tune. All things considered, Kentucky Fried Blues paints an appealing picture of Allison at 33.
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