If You’re Going to the City: A Tribute to Mose Allison (Fat Possum Records)

Various Artists 

Released November 2019

Jazz FM 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2019






Loudon Wainwright III remembers, “For many years I made a point of going to see Mose Allison play wherever I could -In London, Chicago, LA, and , of course, in my hometown of New York. I considered his gigs essential listening and going for me was, not to get too highfallutin’ , a pilgrimage. When I nervously would approach to say hello to him after a show I was always thrilled that he seemed happy to see me. Mose’s cover version of my song “I’m Alright” was an unparalleled highlight of my career and I can only hope he would have approved of my stab at “Ever Since The World Ended.”

Mose’s daughter Amy Allison teamed up with musician/producer Don Heffington to honor her father’s rich catalog of songs. “We were talking about my dad’s legacy and thinking about all the musicians who were fans, and how a tribute album featuring some of these artists would be cool, especially if it were to benefit a worthy cause. Don said “Let’s put it together ourselves” and introduced the idea (and me) to his friend producer/engineer /studio owner Sheldon Gomberg. Sheldon ALSO happens to be on the board of Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund, an organization started by Victoria Williams to benefit musicians in need. And so it began…”

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides assistance to career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Grant recipients include recording artists, club and session musicians, and composers and songwriters from every musical genre. Since its inception, Sweet Relief has helped musicians with medical and living expenses, including insurance premiums, prescriptions, medical treatment and procedures, housing and food costs, utilities, and other basic necessities.

Born in 1927 in the Mississippi Delta, Mose John Allison grew up listening to jazz and blues greats such as Louis Armstrong, Memphis Minnie, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan and the Nat Cole Trio. He learned to play piano and trumpet as a boy. After a stint in the army and then several years playing in clubs around the South, he moved to New York City to make his career as a pianist, songwriter, and performer fronting his own trio. Allison performed with jazz greats such as Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan, and developed a distinctive style of playing that fused blues and jazz with succinct and timeless lyrics. Mose Allison became a favorite among his peers and his songs have been covered by other great artists such as Van Morrison, The Who, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, The Clash and many others. Allison passed away in 2016 at the age of 89.

Track Listing and Personnel:

1. Your Mind is on Vacation by Taj Mahal 02:42

Taj Mahal: vocals

Mark Williams: bass

David Rokeach: drums

Bob Crawford: piano

Producer: Taj Mahal

Engineer: Jeremy Goody

2. My Brain by Robbie Fulks 04:13

Robbie Fulks: guitar, vocals

Noam Pikelny: banjo

Dennis Crouch: bass

Shad Cobb: fiddle

Matt Flinner: mandolin

Producer: Robbie Fulks

Engineer and Mixing: Dave Sinko

3. If You Live by Jackson Browne 03:37

Jackson Browne: vocals

Greg Leisz: steel guitar

Sebastian Steinberg: bass

Fred Tackett: guitar

Don Heffington: drums

Neil Larsen: organ

Producers: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineer: Kevin Smith (63)

Assistant Engineer: Grant Blackstock

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

4. Your Molecular Structure by The Tippo All Stars featuring Fiona Apple 01:41

Fiona Apple: vocals

Benmont Tench: piano

Sebastian Steinberg: bass

Don Heffington: drums

Fref Tackett: electric guitar

David Garza: guitar (nylon string)

Producers: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineers: Morgan Stratton, Sheldon Gomberg

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

5. Nightclub by Ben Harper / Charlie Musselwhite 05:16

Ben Harper: vocals, guitar

Charlie Musselwhite: vocals, harmonica

Jesse Ingalls: bass

Jimmy Paxson: drums

Jason Mozersky: guitar

Kyle Crusham: piano

Producers: Ben Harper, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineer: Ethan Allen

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

6. Stop This World by Chrissie Hynde 03:20

Chrissie Hynde: vocals

Bob Glaub: bass

Don Heffington: drums

Fred Tackett: guitar

Mark Goldenberg: guitar

David Witham: keyboards

Producers: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineers: Geoff Neal, Sheldon Gomberg

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

7. If You’re Going to the City by Iggy Pop 03:50

Iggy Pop: vocals

Don Heffington: percussion

Leron Thomas: trumpet, keyboards [Midi]

Producer: Leron Thomas

Addional Production: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineers: Andrew Felluss, Jason Gossman, Rafael Cadavieco, Sheldon Gomberg

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

8. Everybody’s Crying Mercy by Bonnie Raitt


Bonnie Raitt: vocals

James “Hutch” Hutchinson: bass

Ricky Fataar: drums

George Marinelli: guitar

Mike Finnigan: keyboards

Producer: Bonnie Raitt

Engineer: Peter Keppler

Mixed by Ryan Freeland

9. Ever Since the World Ended by Loudon Wainwright III 02:56

Loudon Wainwright: guitar, vocals

Produced Engineered and Mixed by Stewart Lerman

10. Parchman Farm by Richard Thompson 04:11

Richard Thompson: guitar, vocals

George Galt: harmonica

Producer: Richard Thompson, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineer: Simon Tassano

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

11. I Don’t Worry About a Thing by Peter Case 03:22

Peter Case: piano, vocals

David J. Carpenter: bass

Don Heffington: drums

Buddy Zapata: guitar

Producer: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineer: Kevin Smith

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

12. Wild Man on the Loose by Dave Alvin / Phil Alvin 02:16

Phil Alvin: vocals

Dave Alvin: guitar

Bob Glaub: bass

Don Heffington: drums

David Witham: organ

Producers: Don Heffington, Sheldon Gomberg

Engineers: Kevin Smith, Sheldon Gomberg

Mixed by Sheldon Gomberg

13. The Way of the World by Anything Mose! 03:45

Richard Julian: vocals

John Chin: piano

Producer: John Chin

Engineered and Mixed by Alex Haley and Michael Perez-Cisneros

14. Numbers on Paper y Frank Black 02:21

Black Francis: vocals

Tony Maimone: bass

Jim Murray: drums

Reid Paley: guiotar, harmonica

Eric Drew Feldman: piano, mellotron

Producer: Reid Paley

Engineer: Mark Schwartz

Mixed by Tony Maimone

15. Monsters of the Id by Amy Allison with Elvis Costello 03:25

Amy Allison: vocals

Elvis Costello: vocals

Bob Glaub: bass

Don Heffington: drums

Ryan Hedgecock: guitar

David Ralicke: horns

Mose Allison: piano

Producer and Engineer: Don Heffington

Mixed by David Vaught


Mose Allison has long found favor among pop and rock artists. John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers adapted his arrangement of “Parchman Farm” on their 1966 album featuring Eric Clapton, and the Who included his “Young Man Blues” on their 1970 Live at Leeds. Van Morrison cut an entire album of Allison compositions in 1996, while everyone from the Yardbirds to the Clash to Leon Russell has dipped into the late Mississippi-born singer/songwriter/pianist’s extensive song catalog. So it comes as no surprise that artists as diverse as Jackson Browne, Iggy Pop, Richard Thompson, and Taj Mahal are collected on this 15-track compilation, each giving Allison’s work their own touch.

Allison’s allegiance to blues conventions and his too-hip-for-the-room demeanor are often pervasive, or at the very least implied. Chrissie Hynde’s “Stop This World” is consistent with her recent covers album, suave and sweet; Bonnie Raitt’s 2017 live take on “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” (which she cut originally back in 1973) takes a deep dive into blues territory; Pop’s reading of the title track goes heavy on the MIDI electronics; Loudon Wainwright III’s solo acoustic “Ever Since the World Ended” puts the focus squarely on Allison’s words.

The most effective tracks are those that veer just far enough from Allison’s trademarks but still leave no doubt whose songs these are: Former Blasters co-leaders Dave and Phil Alvin place “Wild Man on the Loose” into an appropriate rockabilly-esque setting, while Robbie Fulks recasts “My Brain” as surrealistic bluegrass in a Béla Fleck mold. Wrapping the consistently impressive project are Amy Allison (Mose’s daughter) and Elvis Costello, who team on a dark, laconic “Monsters of the Id,” a tune originally tucked away on Allison’s 1970 Hello There, Universe. The update, taken from Amy’s 2009 Sheffield Streets album, features Mose on piano, his playing simple and direct, just enough to remind us that he was like no other.

Jeff Tamarkin (JazzTimes)