THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND — The Allman Brothers Band

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THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - The Allman Brothers Band cover
3.84 | 12 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1969

Tracklist

A1 Don't Want You No More 2:25
A2 It's Not My Cross To Bear 5:02
A3 Black Hearted Woman 5:08
A4 Trouble No More 3:45
B1 Every Hungry Woman 4:13
B2 Dreams 7:18
B3 Whipping Post 5:17

Total Time: 33:20

Line-up/Musicians

Duane Allman / lead, slide & acoustic guitars
Gregory Allman / organ, vocals
Dick Betts / guitar
Berry Oakley / bass
Butch Trucks / drums, timbales, maracas
Jai Johanny Johanson / drums, congas

About this release

ATCO Records ‎– SD 33-308(US)

Thanks to Chicapah, snobb for the updates

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THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
At the tip of the tail end of the 60s many of us living in the states were anxious for something new and exciting to emerge not from distant shores but from our own country that we could really sink our teeth into. The tripped-out groups in California were either dissolving into the overdo everything swamp or going folk/rock and the East Coast bands were still mimicking the British invasion. So when this rough-looking bunch of mismatched stragglers and their debut LP showed up in the record bins of America it gave us hope that maybe something indigenous and different had arrived at last. It wasn’t long until every other aspiring musician was infatuated with The Allman Brothers Band and their innovative but unforced combination of rock, jazz, blues and soul. They were a homegrown ensemble that obviously didn’t care nearly as much about appearances as they did about creating and performing high-quality music they could be proud of. While it took the Top 40-addicted public a bit longer to discover them and hop onto their bandwagon, we who considered music as vital to life as blood plasma sensed they were going to be a major influence in the 70s because they really had no local competition as that as-yet-unspoiled decade got under way. While the novel and/or talented may come and go, the unique almost always rise to the surface if they can keep it together long enough.

The story goes that the two brothers, Duane and Gregory, had been fighting the good fight out in Hollywood for a while, trying to sell some vinyl product as “Hourglass” to no avail. Duane moved back to Dixie. Gregg stayed to fulfill his contract with Liberty Records. Duane’s reputation as an ace guitarist and session cat soon attracted a cast of excellent musicians and in no time he had a crackerjack band in need of a charismatic vocalist. Gregg got the call, came home and in short order The Allman Brothers Band landed a record deal with the budding Capricorn label. In November ’69 their eponymous album was released and they took to the road immediately, eager to attract a following even if it meant collecting one fan at a time. They believed they were on to something real and felt the album they’d made was an honest representation of it. While the record has some ragged edges it lacks nothing in the enthusiasm department and that fire can still command your attention well over four decades later.

Their balls-to-the-walls interpretation of Spencer Davis’ “Don’t Want You No More” opens the disc and, like feisty thoroughbreds bursting from the starting gate, their tidal wave of sound smacks you upside the head like a sledgehammer. Their inventive instrumental version of this tune makes apparent their groundbreaking blend of improvisational jazz and rambunctious rock as they jump from one tempo and feel to another seamlessly. They segue dramatically into the hard-core blues of “It’s Not My Cross To Bear.” You’re treated right off the bat to a flurry of stunning licks from Duane that’ll tell you volumes about why he’ll forever be a legend and Gregg’s gravelly but strong-as-a-bull vocal chops give the impression that he’s not as wet behind the ears as he looks. What distinguishes this blues number from what thousands of other outfits were doing at that time is the dynamic descending harmony guitar lines and the staggering punches-to-the-jaw ending they employ. They sound like they’re mad about something. An odd riff played in speedy 7/8 time leads to “Black Hearted Woman,” a pile-driver of a southern-fried rockin’ R&B song that’s quite ambitious but ultimately forgettable despite an arresting vocal/guitar chant. They take more of a traditional route in presenting McKinley Morganfield’s “Trouble No More” and it allows Duane to dazzle you with plenty of the hot slide guitar work that made him one of that slippery technique’s most imitated practitioners.

“Every Hungry Woman” is a rhythmic rocker with an unassailable groove laid down by drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson plus bassist Berry Oakley as they romp behind the rest of the group like antsy schoolboys. The tune features strident guitar riffs from Duane and 2nd guitarist Dickey Betts as well as Gregg’s audacious singing. Anyone who doubts their jazz influences loses that argument conclusively upon “Dreams” being submitted as evidence. Gregg’s purring Hammond organ flows incessantly over the track’s steady, pulsating rhythm while Duane’s extended guitar ride is wonderfully unpredictable and spontaneous. The band never sounds like they’re in a hurry, rather they seem content to let the coolness of the connected moments last. As good as the rest of the album is, though, “Whipping Post” is what pricked up the ears of millions on the first spin. Being an iconic, landmark tune of that era it’s easy to undervalue its impact due to repetition but they were one of the first to dare bring an alien time signature to mainstream FM radio. The great ones are the ones who can make an 11/4 pattern sound perfectly normal to the average Jane or Joe on the street and that’s what they did without fanfare. They slyly slip back into a comfy 6/4 on the verse and chorus yet the whole arrangement works so smoothly you hardly notice. Their stupendous build up to scaling the peak of Mt. Angst whereupon Gregg painfully shouts out the collective frustration of an entire generation is genius and that feat continues to deliver its cathartic blow with every play. This album-closing classic put them on the map and left each listener ready for more.

I myself was in one of the horde of fledgling bluesy jazz/rock combos of that day and age that found in The Allman Brothers Band a sound and attitude towards performing that we could get behind 100% and emulate without fear of rejection from our peers and paying audiences. Not that this was easy stuff to replicate. No way. It took hours of practice to even approach capturing the essence of what they were able to do so effortlessly. But by them setting the bar a little higher they made all small-time musicians aspire to be better and through that ongoing osmosis they made the listening public more sophisticated in the process. This album initiated a give-it-to-us-straight-without-any-frills-please musical movement that provided a needed alternative to the shocking, sometimes vulgar glam-rock that was turning off a sizeable portion of the populace; a demographic that had no intention of settling for boring C&W because they still wanted music with meat on its bones. The Allman Brothers Band’s eventual success and worldwide popularity would spawn a host of inferior imitations that gave birth to a genre with the dubious moniker “Southern Rock.” The bros shouldn’t be held responsible for that de-evolution. They were much more than redneck rock & roll. What those other groups failed to (and couldn’t) incorporate into their shtick were the classy jazz sensibilities that set the Allmans apart from all that followed in their footsteps. They broke the mold.

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