This was The Allman Brothers' debut album. It features the guitar talent of Duane Allman, who unfortunately died in a motorcycle crash in 1971. Basically, there is not too much that can be said extensively about it, except that it is blues rock of the absolute highest quality and this was material that paved the way for "Southern Rock" that the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd followed so impressively later in the seventies....Mind you, influential as it clearly was, there are several bits of clear Jimi Hendrix influence on this, particularly in the riff on the magnificent, rocking Black Hearted Woman. Many of the tracks are extended and almost "jams" to be honest, and these days, this sort of thing can seem, to some, somewhat indulgent and dated. There is the dreaded drum solo in Black Hearted Woman, for example, but it is damn good one. The guitar, bass, drum and organ interplay on all the tracks is superb, effortless at times, almost like free jazz. They just feed instinctively off each other. It is almost telepathic in its understanding. Strangely for all its Southern roots, it was recorded in New York City. It's Not My Cross To Bear is a big, kick-ass, bassy bear of a blues. A great vocal from Gregg Allman that surely influenced Paul Rodgers of Free. Don't Want You No More has some very Santana-esque Latin-style percussion. Their first album was from the same year. Trouble No More has a barnstorming riff that surely to goodness influenced Deep Purple. This is heavy, riffy blues rock at its absolute finest. The searing lead guitar parts are seriously exhilarating. Every Hungry Woman owes something to Hendrix in places too. Dreams shows that they could do slightly more laid-back stuff too. There is a lot of Free in this one, and Led Zeppelin too. Whipping Post was often grossly extended as a jam when played live. The version from At Fillmore East was twenty-three minutes long! It is a great song, though, quite bluesy and soulful in its vocal. Basically this album is full-on electric blues, Yes, there are the slight tinges of the psychedelic era in those Hendrix riffs, but basically this is very much an early seventies blues rock album. There really isn't a bad song on it. The "deluxe edition" is the one to get hold of - its sound is truly superb. Big, full and bassy. What other way is there.
Now we come to the behemoth of the live cut, Mountain Jam. Weighing in at a whopping thirty-three minutes, it is longer than many whole albums and on the original double album it had to be split to cover two sides. Whether one can get through it is questionable, but there is a lovely sound on it throughout, plus some seriously good guitar. It is all so delightfully effortless, however. Put it on while you’re reading or doing something else and it’s fine. A someone who also likes classic three minute pop or soul songs, it is strange to enjoy this too, but I do, just as I enjoy when Fela Kuti gets into a groove and just keeps going. The vibe is a similar one. The drum work at fourteen and a half minutes or so is intoxicating. I had to pop out of the room for a minute or two, come back and he was still going. The drummer was Butch Trucks, never mentioned in any “great rock drummers” list, but this is some serious stick work. Trucks was the uncle of Derek Trucks of The Tedeschi Trucks Band, he sadly took his own life in 2017. Stand Back is a shorter, catchy rocker, while Blue Sky is a delicious serving of country rock. The album ends with the gentle, acoustic strains of Little Martha, another track that shows that this was not all extended jamming, there was a variety of styles on here within the basic blues rock framework. It is a great monster of an early seventies album. Proper blues rock.
Brothers And Sisters (1973)
This album, the first to feature later to be Rolling Stones keyboardsman Chuck Leavell, was one blighted by deaths, drunkenness, drug abuse and inter-band arguments. All that considered, it rocks with a carefree vibrancy that is perhaps unexpected. It is more country-ish than blues in places too. Wasted Words is an easy-going, rambling rocker while the instantly recognisable rocking bar-room strains of Ramblin' Man are pretty much irresistible. Top quality upbeat blues rock. Come And Go Blues slows the tempo down somewhat on an appealingly shuffling heavy blues rock grinder that features some fine piano. Talking of the blues - Jelly Jelly goes the whole hog and delivers some grade 'A' walking pace, grumbling blues rock, punctuated by a killer guitar solo. Southbound gets us back to rocking once more in a style that Eric Clapton would utilise many times over subsequent years. The lively instrumental Jessica was the album's second most popular track and is an attractive country rock groove in a sort of CSN(Y) style. Pony Boy (not the Bruce Springsteen song) is a jaunty, country serving of fun to end this album with, confirming that it was one that sounded happy, even though beneath the surface it was clearly not.
Gregg Allman - Low Country Blues (2011)
This was a fine solo album from copper-bottomed blues rocker Gregg Allman. Sure it is formulaic in that blues rock is like that, but it carries a solid blues thump to it throughout. It goes without saying that the guitar is outstanding as is the piano, drums and keyboards too. Blues rock purity. Floating Bridge is sparse in places but strangely catchy, featuring some fine swampy guitar. The much-covered Little By Little rocks just as you would expect it to. Devil Got My Woman is unsurprisingly mournful. Muddy Waters' I Can't Be Satisfied is beautifully bassy and upbeat, with some more of that sumptuous guitar to the fore, while Blind Man is robust, muscular and populated with searing guitar breaks, great drums and piano too. As I said, there is something pure and essential about stuff like this. Just Another Rider cooks with bubbling, grinding Southern soul, enhanced by a superb mid-song guitar solo and, of course, that ubiquitous punchy brass. Please Accept My Love has a slow rock 'n' roll feeling to it. I Believe I'll Go Back Home is a rhythmic piece of Delta blues. Tears, Tears, Tears is a beautifully chugging serving of blues rock. Check out that superb piano. My Love Is Your Love offers no surprises either - guess what? It chugs along, as does Checking On My Baby. That is not a bad thing though - that's just blues rock for you. It don't change none. Having said that, the closer, Rolling Stone, is a brooding, mysterious number so there you go, but I'm sure you know what I mean.