Saturday, May 27, 2017
So who's left, Jaimoe? I first saw the Allman Brothers back in a time when practically no one had heard of them, they were a backup band for I want to say Steppenwolf at the first show of theirs I attended but went through the mental archives and can't put my finger on it. Maybe 1971. Post Hourglass but not a household name yet.
I remember being astounded at how tight they were, maybe the tightest syncopated groove of anybody this side of James Brown. And the idea of two drummers was new to me at the time, haven't seen the Grateful Dead yet. They were wonderful. Got to see Duane. Berry. Awesome.
I had my coming of age during a time that I call the blue jean bands - Dead, Allmans and The Band. Straight ahead American roots music. My pals and I would argue about their relative merit but we loved them all. The Watkins Glen lineup. A well crafted sound that held up for decades and through numerous painful losses, for all three bands.
The Allman Brothers were a southern psychedelic band, the first.
And as much as the recently departed Gregg Allman tried to disassociate from that aspect and say it was overblown in his book, I remember the time and they were very psychedelic. The Macon sound.
You put on Mountain Jam or Le Brers and you knew that it wasn't about show with these guys. They could play with craft, timing and artistry like no one else of their day.
Their rhythm section was superb. Duane's chops were legendary, Clapton himself was supposed to have had a religious epiphany when he first heard Duane's session work on Hey Jude for Wilson Pickett.
Gregg had one of, if not the greatest, white soul blues voices. Sang like sweet caramel. He started as a guitar player, switched to the Hammond and created an explosion heard wound the world when he handed his brother a coricidin bottle when he was sick.
That bottle launched Duane onto slide. And the rest was history. What amazed me about Gregg was how hard he worked, how many songs he sang. He was the voice of the band, and often the sole principal voice after Dickie left. Or meaningful voice anyway.
Good on you and god bless Gregg. You were a musician who worked his ass off and played his heart out. Daresay too soon, but livers and kidneys are precious organs and sometimes a payment must be made. You sang and played beautifully.
Here's the dead and allmans from Watkins Glen. The soundcheck, night before.