2016 atlThe Gregg Allman Anthology is a thirty four track two disc set released by Bill, Kirk and Alan on Mercury Capricorn. It is my absolute favorite Gregg Allman collection because he is often accompanied just by himself with voice, guitar or piano.

It’s thoughtfully put together and Alan’s liner notes are another informative, good read. I am so happy I scooped this up before it was pulled from circulation. Officially titled “One More Try: An Anthology a quick google search turns up copies on amazon and elsewhere that run around eighty dollars. That is a pittance to hear Gregg working these tunes out. All the tracks are fully realized they do not cut off or trail off. He finishes each track. I do seem to recall him mentioning that he loved rehearsing – it shows!

Demos, outtakes, covers, alternate versions, band rehearsals have never sounded better. Gregg took the music seriously and to heart and thats what separates him from all those to come and all those who have come before. The Jackson Browne cover Shadow Dream Song is biblical. These are not just run throughs. And there is a 1969 version of Cross To Bear recorded out in LA with session musicians that is absolutely the birth of the Allman Brothers as much as anything we have heard or have been told before. These selections are just beautiful, intimate and haunting.

There’s not a track on here that doesn’t ring true. I’m listening to an alternate version of These Days from the collection as I’m writing and it’s very hard to concentrate. There’s a track featuring Johnny Winter Berry Oakley and Buddy Miles (Hendrix) on Wasted Words that screams and then later Bonnie Bramlett joining Gregg singing a stripped down, slowed down Win, Lose or Draw feels like its just you and them in front of a fireplace late at night. Catfish Blues is another great tune just Gregg and his guitar. I mean dear lord he’s just finger picking his way through Will The Circle Be Unbroken by himself that alone is worth the price.

This is like an intimate house concert and Gregg just shows up to play in your living room. It’s powerful and clean. There are full band performances as well from the Laid Back era, The Live Tour era, and The I’m No Angel era. The earliest track is 1968 with Gregg and Duane doing Melisa.

Twenty million, bazillion stars and thumbs up!
Highly recommended!

 

R-2065283-1262803329.jpeg
Hittin’ The Mule

Hittin The Note our final studio release from 2003 this outstanding lineup recorded one studio album and it doesn’t get any better.

HTN opens with a very crunchy Haynsian guitar line and Gregg’s vocals with authority. What follows is a cascading churning number that’s brisk and punctuated with excellent guitar tones. As it closes we have a classic Betts like scale rundown that repeats and pays homage to the ABB signature sound. With Warren Co-writing nine originals this is definitely an ABB meets Mule release but that’s more than okay. Anything with Gregg’s voice, lyrics and playing is an Allman Brother release no matter which way you look at it and then there’s the twin drums of Butch and Jaimoe unmistakable with authority passion, drive and finesse. This is an absolutely excellent release and as a cap stone to their legacy just about as perfect as it can get. Derek’s slide work is sublime the power and subtlety is all there both in the playing and the singing from everyone. The next track the High Cost of Low Living has Derek stepping out for an extended break. I recall hearing it for the first time and feeling this is as close to Duane as we are going to get and it’s a thing of beauty.

Sitting in my car one early summer evening outside a beach side Seven Eleven windows down Hittin’ The Note cranked I recall one brother passing by, “you listen to “good” music!” With an emphasis on the word “good” you could take to the bank. No clue who the band was not the popular music of the moment no matter it’s tight, excellent, righteous, searing, and honest. This is an undeniable recording. High Cost of Low Living ends gently as if ready to play Duane’s bird calls but Derek just leaves that space there. We know it was coming and even today it feels expected but he leaves the space vacant. It’s a really nice touch.

Desdemona follows and it’s a beautifully sung tune, bluesy like the night. The lyrics are poignant and truthful. Gregg is so good at throwing in the bibliographical wrapped in an anonymous story. It’s as if he’s saying here’s the truth friends but hey the song might not be autobiographical specifically but this line I sing here sure as hell is. It’s always been real between him and the fans as he composes. At the four minute mark Desdemona just takes off as we are treated to Derek’s gritty signature slide sound and fierce attack. Then Warren steps in with almost a Wes Montgomery like elegance before he crunches it up. Oteil’s bass work is perfectly mixed in without too many flourishes. This is after all a blues holler and Greg’s delivery of the lyrics is damn near perfect. They are sung with feeling not overwrought and wonderfully slated in the melody.

Then we get Freddy King. Who doesn’t love Freddy King? He gives Albert and B.B a good run for their money and quite frankly he’s my favorite King. We all know Woman Across The River by now as Warren trotted it out plenty. It’s a fiery fierce recording with blistering guitar runs but what follows is one of my favorite songs ever of regret and redemption.

Old Before My Time is a heartbreakingly bittersweet tune that gets me every time. Gregg is really singing to us here and I was the one with arms raised and butane lit whenever this came out in concert. “No more feeling guilty for things I never did.” The mix of acoustic and electric guitars is outstanding and the quiet solo acoustic opening with just vocals really puts the focus on the lyrics where it should be. Oteil’s bass line makes brief beautiful entrances then the Freight Train chugs in keeping the calm time with Derek’s slide making simple statements. Gregg’s organ chimes in and the guitar players get to work ripping our hearts out of our chests. It’s glorious. Well pronounced lyrics come back in sung at such an even pace with a little soft whoo hoo placed so quietly. The man knew what he was doing with his voice. “There is a long hard road that winds so far behind me….” fading out with a bottleneck slide on an acoustic…brilliantly placed after Butch’s cascading cymbals. To me Old Before My Time is bittersweet perfection.

Then we get a count off. How can a count off be so perfectly placed after a song and we are back to rockin the blues. The melody stalks with a cool sensibility somebody tell me Who to Believe. Unhurried guitar refrain bops quietly in the corner. I imagine that there was never another studio release because this effort was so good. The band has it right here. Each song and cover a strong righteous rendition of master musicians at their craft. Butch said something about the expense of studio time and that well may be but for my money I’m guessing they finished with this album and made a conscious decision to let it be. I’m just spit balling here who knows another effort might have been just as worthy but it’s hard for me imagining them topping this effort. There are subtle touches everywhere and it really is a genius well thought out effort played with passion and perfection. It really is brilliant and sits as a pantheon cap stone with no need to alter and no need for an addition.

Maydell (Johnny Neel -remember him) comes rockin’ in with a great upbeat shuffle and then Rockin’ Horse (Allen Woody – remember him) with just ridiculous firing of guitars and bass lines and that freight yard rhythm section with Marc playing his palms off then Derek getting greazzzzzzzy and the damn thing just funks out all over the place.

Heart of Stone was a great surprise and makes me laugh – this heart of stone darlin’. How perfect are the Stones lyrics for Gregg to sing and Warren and Derek give this song a wicked work out at the close. Take that Mick and Keith.

Instrumental Illness this mighty disc gets ready to close with an Oteil and Warren effort that is like a carnival ride, a crazy kangaroo of a song careening down the highway. It’s such a fun bop of an opening and then we’re down to some serious jams people. Introducing the one and only Gregg Allman on keyboards. It’s outstanding to hear Gregg give the keys a great work out before we launch into … what’s that familiar winding note … like a lone wolf howling at the wind … ladies and gentleman introducing Derek Trucks in all his mighty double cut away glory. The rhythm section stalks the lead as the guitar tries to turn away not today Mr. Trucks here comes Oteil bounding after you better take cover under those splashing drum skins, Zildjian Cymbals and drum heads of Marcs now making way for Warren sauntering down the street ready to throw a funky break down Haynsian groove a funky riffttastic orgy of growling staccato frenzy and the beast lives. Oh excuse me time to go up an octave nine minutes in we’re over right…. Ha,ha,ha yeah right they’re just letting the listener relax. Here comes Gregg with the closing of the Fillmore riff and then oh hi Oteil were you been and off again we go with the closing stanza a classic ABB wind down and subtle clashing close.

Phew what next well we get ceremoniously tossed into the swamp as Old Friend steps out from the Ridge across the holler and down to the creek. Warren brings his gentle growl and we have a finger picker’s delight vintage bottle neck attack with Skip James and Son House coming to mind.

And here we close my friends back from which we came full circle. God bless the Allman Brothers Band every single one of them in all their incarnations and god bless the music and god bless the fans and god bless the source from which it all sprang and from which it all springs.

In this crazy world with good and evil living side by side keep dancing, keep singing, keep playing the blues and driving your train. It’s your world too you know grab a hold of what speaks to you and build your foundation of life. Mold the clay that is you drink deep from the waters. It’s a mystery and a miracle a struggle and a defeat a victory and a redemption a journey worth living tear it up in balance with your soul, body, mind and spirit.

Paul

 

Allman-Brothers-Band-Where-It-All-Begins-Photo
Where it all Begins –
In 1994 we got treated to yet a third studio album by the Allman Brothers. On the heels of Seven Turns and Shades of Two Worlds and a live disc this third Studio release from the reinvigorated band is a complete, cohesive effort and an excellent album.

While Seven Turns had a more disparate feel of different songs slotted next to one another and Shades was a pin your ears back assault from beginning to end Where It All Begins sits in between those two efforts tempo wise. Here we don’t have the all-out blistering attack as captured on Shades or Set One an Evening With a live disc that was recorded teeth bared in Macon, Boston and at the Beacon that came out in 1992 but rather Where It All Begins has a distinctive shuffle song after song. It seems the Brothers were concentrating more on song craft with this release than burning the studio down.

Tom Dowd again at the helm helped the Brothers achieve their vision while still maintaining the tone of their dynamic sound and intricate interplay. It bounces and feels jaunty. Those are strange words to describe the Allman Brothers and their screaming stack of Marshall’s but the playing is definitely more relaxed and that makes for a more relaxed listening experience which over time is very enjoyable.

Rest assured it is the Allman Brothers sound in its entirety and several of the songs became performance regulars that fit well within the cannon of early classics. Gregg’s singing of Soulshine is a treat and No One To Run With and its Bo Diddly shuffle was a concert favorite an anthem of acceptance and defiance that we all loved. Song after song shuffle with almost a reggae back beat intertwined and they deliver. This album also includes Sailin Across The Devils Sea, Change My Way of Living, What’s Done is Done and of the three resurgent studio releases may be my favorite and I’m very passionate about Shades of Two Worlds.

So we have a little bit of a mellow twist here a little less aggressive but certainly high quality songs and arrangements that let you hear a little more carefully the overall skill and talent of each of the players drum and rhythm section, bass and B-3 working together as well as the complexity of Dickie and Warren’s playing.

Where It All Begins is a relaxed groove with great slightly understated playing and a swing sensibility with hints of island back beats. It makes for an any time of day or night enjoyable funky, swing fest listen.

There are bouncy meandering segues, peaks and valleys intertwined with plenty of quick little fires of intensity but it is a different listening experience than Shades and a seemingly earthier offering than Seven Turns.

It all sounds great and mixed not so it’s coming at you but more like you are at the center of the listening experience. The growling tones are all there and the quick flourishes both strings and cymbals but not until the seventh track do our faces get ripped off with the tremendous Mean Woman Blues.

I can only imagine after Shades of Two Worlds and the Blistering An Evening With First Set the band wanted to dial it back a little bit and write some strong songs that gave their playing room to breathe. Tom Dowd did a great job mixing as all the vocals, Gregg’s, Dickie and Warren’s float just above the mix while at the back end of the mix the Hammond stalks the groove. Woody’s bass is dialed in nicely and the guitars when featured sizzle and dance. The drums Butch, Jaimoe and Marc always fantastic sit nicely as well right there trading licks with the guitars supporting the melody.

This is a fine album by mature skilled and accomplished musicians and lyricists that rocks and rolls through the swamp of our souls. Put it on feel your head bop as all the touches and ambiance returns and your smile emerges. Where It All Begins is a fully realized set of songs sung and played with passion and pin point fire that delivers a seemingly effortless Allman Brother journey down the road and yet it still retains that seductive smolder we all know and love.

I’m really enjoying rediscovering this effort and although not knowing for sure get what they were trying to achieve. I feel they slowed down their attack so that their musicianship and song crafting could really come to the fore be heard and really be appreciated. To that end I think they succeeded tremendously!

 

7c33942f82ea95bc4598bae99ae6c113

Seven Shades:
In the 1990’s we were treated to two back to back releases Seven Turns and Shades of Two Worlds. There is a plethora of jamtastic music on both albums. Seven Turns set the table and Shades of Two Worlds slammed the door with authority. We are the Allman Brothers Band and this is the music we play and it speaks for itself. Here we come like it or not and just like that we were back fans, friends, family and band. No top forty airplay, no striving for recognition, damn few releases just live shows one after the other and the church filled right back up with young and old alike and we got it on. Who needs all the hyperbole all the media it’s all a distraction. The band was back down to business and that nights show was the mission. They recommitted to the music and their original passion and vision despite personnel, despite airplay, despite everything and guess what when they did what they loved because they loved it everything else took care of itself. The music came first not the booze, not the drugs, not the women, not the fame, accolades or attention and we were back with a vengeance. I was still on the air ten years later in 1991 and fell in love with Shades of Two Worlds. It screamed from the studio and out over the airwaves. Nobody Knows ricocheted everywhere I could broadcast it from my car, backyard, studio and airwaves. The energy was fierce and the college kids sheepishly admitted the old guy jams. It was nice of them to say but the phone was ringing off the hook. Your back this year thank god your show is the best thing on campus. It felt good to deliver and it felt good to have the goods to deliver. Thank you fellas!!!!!!!

I was at a Lynyrd Skynyrd Allman Brothers gig in North Carolina a decade later and it was a hoot fest and a half. I told my wife we are at ground zero tonight. The bikers were out in force. The flags were waving and the lawn after the show was strewn with bodies. My wife tried to help one poor flag bikini clad daisy duke wearing chippy as she stumbled barefoot into the washroom, “oh honey put some shoes on before coming in here.” We were back having fun!

I put a Seven Shades disc together which works well and features the songs I think are the best tracks from these two efforts.

Good Clean Fun (Seven Turns)
Seven Turns (Seven Turns)
Get On With Your Life (Shades of Two Worlds)
Low Down Dirty Mean (Seven Turns)
Shine It On (Seven Turns)
True Gravity ( Seven Turns)
End of the Line (Shades of Two Worlds)
Come on in My Kitchen (Shades of Two Worlds)
It’ Ain’t Over Yet (Seven Turns)
Kind of Bird (Shades of Two Worlds)
Nobody Knows (Shades of Two Worlds)
Gambler’s Roll (Seven Turns)
77 minutes

Just a few comments about some of these tracks:

True Gravity – takes off at the 2:50 mark into a beautiful array of sound, splashing drums, and thoughtful melody lines. It’s ethereal with the drums chugging underneath and the bass line jumping in and out in sympathy. And then at the 4:30 mark Johnny Neel charges out with a blistering piano line that wraps around the highway of sound that steals the show and sets the table for the next guitar lead and band to crescendo in a group ascent and fall. That middle segue is a thing of beauty.

Low Down Dirty Mean – opens with an acoustic twang and has a great juke joint feel, with a great set of gutsy lyrics.

Get on With Your Life – has some great call and response blues guitar work and Gregg brings the blues vocals to church.

End of the Line – “Oh when I think about the old days it sends chills up and down my spine.” Do you think Gregg is trying to tell us something here? It’s another gutsy, sizzling track and you can literally feel the band spitting the music out with purpose. A wonderful slide segue melodic and a change of pace leads us back to Gregg’s soulful proclamations. “Spent most of my life downtown sleeping behind the wheel.” Yeah baby tell it like it is!

Come on in My Kitchen – is the perfect pallet cleanser for screaming stacks of Marshall’s and I had to include it as it pays homage to the massive root of music that the ABB sound emerges from. Gregg slows it way down and it’s his singing that carries the melody. The backup vocals are spot on gospel and Dickey and Warren get to do a little chicken pickin and grinnin. It’s a real front porch holler.

Kind of Bird – I remember first listening to this tune and it not really grabbing me because it is a departure from the heavy straight ahead attack of say Black Hearted Woman. But here now decades later I totally get it and love it and get the groove. There are some great touches behind the shifting theme and flourishing riffs. A song structure ahead of its time to my ears back then but now it stands solid and undated dive back into this one if you haven’t in a while it’s all there.

Nobody Knows – Better lyrics may not have ever been written anywhere by anyone. They are straight ahead, unpretentious, speak the truth simply and clearly. I love hearing the band play but I love hearing Gregg sing these lyrics… “they ALL claim to know.” The music gets to the heart of the matter and doesn’t dance around the edges. Gregg’s Hammond gets a good work out to open the assault it’s building you know it’s coming…another verse and then it’s an earthy fierce work out. Nobody Knows sits firmly in the pantheon of great righteous Allman Brother Tunes from Whipping Post to Elizabeth Reed and the aforementioned Black Hearted Woman. Too many righteous classics to mention but this is foundational Allman Brothers at its best. It’s a righteous riffing screaming pin your ears back blow your mind melt the speakers excursion of dexterity, force and truth. It’s an in your face assault that says here we are this is what we do bitch and we do it better than anybody else!

Gambler’s Roll – After Nobody Knows what can you play? Well this tune brings the blues right back and has an opening crescendos that screeches to a halt mellows the mood and then lights the fire again. It builds slowly more truth is spoken with authority and the Hammond builds and stalks the opening assault. It’s so good to hear Gregg at his craft working that massive keyboard. Then the guitar comes in from around a dark alley the mood set screaming out in agony and flourishes with passion. This is a great tune and a good song. Gregg sings us out while the band flourishes and charges and retreats around his voice. It’s a thoughtful arrangement gritty, soulful, dark.

The amount of music this band put out over forty years might lend itself to some missing these tracks. Don’t do it dig down deep in their cannon and enjoy. They deserve to be heard and we deserve to hear them as well.

abb_31191_mem_2
Seven Turns:
Before I launch into the merits of the music a little context is needed for this yarn. We all know death but do we know it as a good thing? Believe it or not and it makes no difference to me I’m not here to convince you of anything but if you haven’t experienced the jolt of death the righteous slap in the face that it is you have no idea and zero comprehension of life. It’s a rude awakening but it is an awakening. You may think you know it but until you experience it the proverbial rug has not been swiped from under your feet and the seemingly emptiness revealed. Death challenges you and braces you like turning into the wrong neighborhood at night in a different city where you have just arrived. Death wakes your ass up. Death provides gratitude and awareness it provokes faith and amplifies and informs your life. An unexpected death like a bolt from a canyon rips the false veneer of shallow comprehension off your back and drops it at your feet. Pick it up or run away it still provides the provocative phenomenon that a spinning oasis in space is just a start and what the hell is really going on here? Death raises your consciousness even if you think you have already raised your consciousness to dizzying heights. Death is the ultimate thunder clap and sudden death is its howitzer.

I’ve been blasted by that howitzer several times and in its place fleeting memories and artifacts and phenomena. My beautiful older sister knew how to act. With a sly smile and a warm heart and the true sting of a Scorpio. Perfectly placed five years older than me she sometimes paved the way and when in her sphere raised me up. On rare occasions she pointed her boyfriend’s little sisters my way. Looking out for me she would have stuffed a little surfer girl in the mail to me from Hawaii if she could and told me so but all I got was a tee shirt. She was honest, brave and fun and then in a snap she was gone and I’m still so very young.

Seven turns landed in my lap in 1990. After the wilderness years of solo albums, band feuds, people magazine covers and releases that had glimmers but only a few tracks to cling to I ripped the cellophane off the new CD. How the fuck do you open a CD Jesus mother of marry get that freakin’ label sticky crap sealed again under the cellophane off? What fresh packaging hell is this!? Wait don’t break the plastic case. Okay CD’s came out in the mid 1980’s but I mean seriously!!?

I deposited the new disc in my player and like many of you I was ten years in the waiting….please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck. Heightened anticipation positive but still please no more over synthesized pablum puke for the masses. Not since Brothers and Sisters come on we need a complete effort not just one or two righteous explorations and then fill come on mannnnnnnnnn.

So there I was in my old Victorian on the precipice of exaltation, disappointment or somewhere in between. I was all alone no roommates, holding down several gigs, making ends meet, no television, finalizing Journey Home and my music and art surrounding me. Vintage hippie pad, crooked floors, bay windows, complete with tapestries, incense and Native American flute music emanating from the windows. My Cousteau Calypso flag hanging from the second story out front proudly. Plants and bookshelves The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Van Gogh, acoustic and electric, an old typewriter two kittens pesticide free pest control and support system please don’t shit in the rubber plant Sylvia it was Jeana’s.

The marinara steeping in my small antiquated kitchen, pasta at the ready, fresh bread and a nice bottle of red. Good Clean Fun comes roaring out of the speakers! Yeeeees! Fist pump, arms raised, eyes to the heavens nirvana in my crib but no one to share it with. No matter I’ve always been a god damn independent. As one song rolls into the other and I’m preparing my modest feast the thought that grows naturally from my soul and heart is that Duane must be so proud of his younger brother right now and I feel it I really do and the smile is there the music is righteous, strong, invigorated and there it is right in the middle of the floor as I turn my sisters fedora with the feather she stuck in the trim ribbon waiting to greet me.

We live in a beautiful world an amazing world surrounded by creativity and beauty and honor and goodness and magic. It’s a reality unknowable and the ying and yang of it all gives us our work to do and presents those challenges. If met we are the wiser for it more fulfilled brimming with soul satisfaction and awareness at every step, every waking moment and in our dreams as well the visions abound both here and there. It really is a beautiful world and it’s all tied together whether we know it or not in ways we cannot seem to see but sometimes do and more often then afterwards we hear the song birds sing thank you.

 

19243338_1256575924470944_4010200697411362169_oWhen the Dreams Box Set arrived in stores I had the same expression on my face and bought three copies. Two were gifts. It received extensive play at the studio and I knew more than ever and it just confirmed something was a foot with the band and future new releases were on the horizon.

The live cuts got airplay immediately and the early stuff on the first lp as rare as I could find got airplay as well. I remember standing in the parking lot at the Garden State Art Center and blaring the tunes from my car speakers and fans stopping to enthusiastically discuss the merits of the release.

Warren, Woody and Johnny were great additions to the band. Seeing Woody play for the first time was a revelation and the dominant thought I had was “where the hell did they find this guy?”

Woody exuded such great dynamics from the stage. He was a fierce player but had this teddy bear vibe about him. I don’t think anybody in the venue or on stage was having a better time than Woody. That’s the way it looked and felt to me.

I was also psyched about the piano coming back into the mix. Chuck I guess was busy with the Stones but Johnny Neel was not a fill in. His playing was extraordinary vibrant and wickedly fast. He took center stage when he played and brought dexterity and a great sensibility to the sound of the band. Johnny Neel did some dynamic work for the band both in the studio and on stage. Often a forgotten player but I enjoyed his contributions immensely.

The crowd? Well they were in a frenzy excited and righteously psyched this music was back and with a vengeance.

I’m guessing this photo is one of Kirk’s black and whites. It’s a great impromptu capture and it looks like we all band and fans felt the same. Thanks to everyone who pulled that effort together. You sure made one DJ in New Jersey happy!

 

1980sDisruptive Angel – The Wilderness Years: After the Arista Clive Davis Prostitution Dickey and Gregg went their own way. Hell I even think there was a moment that the ABB was playing without Gregg. I distinctly remember going what the what how f’d up is that? But the wilderness years weren’t all bad for the core fans.

No way brother we got to catch Gregg and Dickey although in separate venues at separate times all alone down front in freakin’ bars. Yeah baby. Places the same size or smaller than Grant’s only a decade later. We danced and hooted and hollered and partied with the band inches from Gregg with the Toler Brothers and Chaz Trippy and Dickey fronted a power trio. That’s right while the kids were swooning over Depeche Mode there I was with “my” brother no less down front raging with every note Dickey powered our way. Crowd sizes were pushing it to reach fifty people including staff and the band on a Tuesday night. Small but hearty my friends and ferocious we all had a ball.

So while it might have been a come down for the band it was a real opportunity and we had a blast. This was all pre-1986. We had the better part of a decade before they climbed back into America’s consciousness and started playing sheds again with Johnny Neel, Warren and Woody.

There I sat in my studio faced with three hours of air time….hmmm what should I play? Out comes Fillmore East and Done Somebody Wrong the manager comes in and say’s okay you’ve done that once never do that again…well bullshit to that who cares if it’s not XTC.

I had a 35 mile radius outside of Atlantic City the 52nd largest market just behind New Orleans out of 270 ranked markets. FM airwaves before satellite before streaming and I laid it on thick. I brought the jam and we went to the shows.

I was a man on a mission. You want music I’ll show you goddam music. One fellow DJ said out from under his black eye liner at least the guys you play know how to play their instruments. I cranked the studio speakers and the head bangers and speed scale lovers were confused by the back beat. I segued in and out of live sets and the goth kids smiled. I played musicians and musicians played music!

Seeing Gregg in a sleazy bar in Wildwood NJ a puke stained, piss soaked oh dear lord don’t go into the bathroom or eat the food crap hole and handing out tee shirts with the classic mushroom logo to my friends and fans and the band wanted them.

“Hey were’d you get those?”

I jumped up and down in front of the band and Gregg whose B-3 I could touch if I wasn’t respectful I was genuinely into every note (still am). No beer in my hand, air guitar going as I’m rocking listening, dancing, having a hoot grooving hard Danny smiling at me shaking his head and Gregg stepping down off the riser tapping “me” on the shoulder and shaking my hand – just beautiful – drinking with the band at the bar after the show – sitting on either side of me – dynamite!

Well we had us a time. Why is Dickey’s bass player grinning like a maniac looking like he’s going to have a heart attack? What’s in that towel fellas…come on guys right on freakin’ stage. We had our own. Invited back stage to talk to Gregg about the double SG that sure as hell looked like Brother Duane’s guitar and I was too stupid to get autographs back then.

Then 1986 The Together Again Tour and I have to wake people up shake their shoulder pads and costume jewelry from around their necks. Get your asses to the gig morons. Easily down front again no pushing, dancing, laughing, carrying on and a double bill this time with Dickey Opening and Gregg closing and then the encore together with Duane’ guitar…redemption.

Then we get I’m no Angel and Pattern Disruptive 1987 and 1988 and Gregg’s back on commercial radio and I’m hollering at the DJ’s and Programmers as I roll down the road – about god damn time assholes.

Looking back they learned some lessons from the Arista debacle and while both releases INA and PD have their merits they are still of their time. I’m No Angel especially. However on INA they sneak more blistering guitar work of Dan’s into several songs and not forgetting their true friends and fans close with a new version of Don’t Want You No More into It’s Not My Cross To Bear just a bit glammed up.

Who knew in the following year 1989 with the issue of the Dreams Box Set they would charge on for another twenty four years? And that was the whole point to me. The music was too epic to not forge ahead and when they stayed true to their vision and passion new generations not only us 1970ers but decade after decade of hearts and souls got to experience, re-discover and be informed by the roots of rock n roll, blues, gospel, country, jazz and soul and a whole lotta righteous soul playing groove thundering authenticity.

In the wilderness years of the 1980’s we didn’t want this music forgotten not the fans not the musicians. As I pulled Hot ‘Lanta from the Fillmore East album one day in the 1990’s a returning alumni of the radio station said to me derisively “are you still playing that album” – “hell yeah,” I retorted and after he left and said hello to old friends on the wing the studio speakers screaming that music down the hall he stuck his head back into the studio to say goodbye and spoke emphatically – “keep playin “that” music Paul!”

Mission accomplished

Disruptive Angel – The Wilderness Years: After the Arista Clive Davis Prostitution Dickey and Gregg went their own way. Hell I even think there was a moment that the ABB was playing without Gregg. I distinctly remember going what the what how f’d up is that? But the wilderness years weren’t all bad for the core fans.

No way brother we got to catch Gregg and Dickey although in separate venues at separate times all alone down front in freakin’ bars. Yeah baby. Places the same size or smaller than Grant’s only a decade later. We danced and hooted and hollered and partied with the band inches from Gregg with the Toler Brothers and Chaz Trippy and Dickey fronted a power trio. That’s right while the kids were swooning over Depeche Mode there I was with “my” brother no less down front raging with every note Dickey powered our way. Crowd sizes were pushing it to reach fifty people including staff and the band on a Tuesday night. Small but hearty my friends and ferocious we all had a ball.

So while it might have been a come down for the band it was a real opportunity and we had a blast. This was all pre-1986. We had the better part of a decade before they climbed back into America’s consciousness and started playing sheds again with Johnny Neel, Warren and Woody.

There I sat in my studio faced with three hours of air time….hmmm what should I play? Out comes Fillmore East and Done Somebody Wrong the manager comes in and say’s okay you’ve done that once never do that again…well bullshit to that who cares if it’s not XTC.

I had a 35 mile radius outside of Atlantic City the 52nd largest market just behind New Orleans out of 270 ranked markets. FM airwaves before satellite before streaming and I laid it on thick. I brought the jam and we went to the shows.

I was a man on a mission. You want music I’ll show you goddam music. One fellow DJ said out from under his black eye liner at least the guys you play know how to play their instruments. I cranked the studio speakers and the head bangers and speed scale lovers were confused by the back beat. I segued in and out of live sets and the goth kids smiled. I played musicians and musicians played music!

Seeing Gregg in a sleazy bar in Wildwood NJ a puke stained, piss soaked oh dear lord don’t go into the bathroom or eat the food crap hole and handing out tee shirts with the classic mushroom logo to my friends and fans and the band wanted them.

“Hey were’d you get those?”

I jumped up and down in front of the band and Gregg whose B-3 I could touch if I wasn’t respectful I was genuinely into every note (still am). No beer in my hand, air guitar going as I’m rocking listening, dancing, having a hoot grooving hard Danny smiling at me shaking his head and Gregg stepping down off the riser tapping “me” on the shoulder and shaking my hand – just beautiful – drinking with the band at the bar after the show – sitting on either side of me – dynamite!

Well we had us a time. Why is Dickey’s bass player grinning like a maniac looking like he’s going to have a heart attack? What’s in that towel fellas…come on guys right on freakin’ stage. We had our own. Invited back stage to talk to Gregg about the double SG that sure as hell looked like Brother Duane’s guitar and I was too stupid to get autographs back then.

Then 1986 The Together Again Tour and I have to wake people up shake their shoulder pads and costume jewelry from around their necks. Get your asses to the gig morons. Easily down front again no pushing, dancing, laughing, carrying on and a double bill this time with Dickey Opening and Gregg closing and then the encore together with Duane’ guitar…redemption.

Then we get I’m no Angel and Pattern Disruptive 1987 and 1988 and Gregg’s back on commercial radio and I’m hollering at the DJ’s and Programmers as I roll down the road – about god damn time assholes.

Looking back they learned some lessons from the Arista debacle and while both releases INA and PD have their merits they are still of their time. I’m No Angel especially. However on INA they sneak more blistering guitar work of Dan’s into several songs and not forgetting their true friends and fans close with a new version of Don’t Want You No More into It’s Not My Cross To Bear just a bit glammed up.

Who knew in the following year 1989 with the issue of the Dreams Box Set they would charge on for another twenty four years? And that was the whole point to me. The music was too epic to not forge ahead and when they stayed true to their vision and passion new generations not only us 1970ers but decade after decade of hearts and souls got to experience, re-discover and be informed by the roots of rock n roll, blues, gospel, country, jazz and soul and a whole lotta righteous soul playing groove thundering authenticity.

In the wilderness years of the 1980’s we didn’t want this music forgotten not the fans not the musicians. As I pulled Hot ‘Lanta from the Fillmore East album one day in the 1990’s a returning alumni of the radio station said to me derisively “are you still playing that album” – “hell yeah,” I retorted and after he left and said hello to old friends on the wing the studio speakers screaming that music down the hall he stuck his head back into the studio to say goodbye and spoke emphatically – “keep playin “that” music Paul!”

Mission accomplished

 

The_Allman_Brothers_Band_Brothers_Of_The_Road
Well what are you going to do – its 1980 and 1981 you sign with a new label take their money and Tom Dowd is no where near the studio. The thing that struck me is how many people asked Gregg and Dickey to sign these albums – the other being Reach for the Sky.

It always gave me pause when BOTR or RFTS albums were pushed in front of the guys for autographs. But if you came of age then and this music spoke to you then guess what – awesome – and thats how music works – all things work – and so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. I saw a lot of people want these albums signed. They would probably shrug their shoulders at my passion for Highway Call and you know its all good.

Except I don’t think these two albums do the band justice in any way shape or form.

So is there music here worth listening to? Yes there is. Is it righteous…. ahhh not consistently and way over produced. Strip it back down put some teeth in the lyrics and well you have different albums.

Okay look you veer off your vision your trying to reestablish the band grab some money and pay the bills. We get it – and so when it comes time to record the material you try to bring the vision forth by the way you sing a voicing and play a phrase. I got the feeling they dressed all the music in the same overcoat of the era and that every other song was Arista taking the music in one direction and the ABB trying to take it in another direction yet all wearing the same fabric or foundation of the pop music world proven money machine artifice.

But if the lyrics are not inspired and the sound is contrived well the best that can be said is they gave it a whirl. However they did not survive the Arista and Clive Davis bastardizing of the original vision of blues, R&B, soul, gospel and jazz and the American Idolizing of our guys.

All the old fans threw up and the new ones made excuses. Large vast amounts of puke, many, many excuses.

Dickey and Gregg made a mistake and Miami Viced their sound. They danced to market forces and chased money instead of the muse. There are listenable songs here that would go well with your early 80’s collection or if you are binge watching Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas – that show cracks me up – guilty pleasure – love it when they turn out their own co-workers to hook and shoot drugs undercover or was that Rush?

Tequila Sunrise is an awesome movie the 80’s had some merit and gave us Mark Knopfler.

Anyway cherry picking off of these two efforts and in no particular order the songs that work best to my ears.

Leavin
The Judgement
Things You Used to Do
Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday
Never Knew How Much I Needed You
From the Madness from the West
Angeline
Keep on Keepin On
So Long

These are good solid of the era tunes but nine selections and one of them I’m iffy about (oh heck all of them I’m Iffy about) culled from eighteen total tracks tells you all you need to know. I bought both albums when they came out and never played them on the air or bought replacement CDs.

Robben Ford once said stick to your vision – the audience will find you or said another way.

“This above all to thine own self be true..” Polonius

Lesson Learned

 

Image may contain: one or more people, beard and closeup
Since day one and I mean day one of his recording career Gregg knew how to place a lyric, how long to hold the note, phrase the song and hit the right volume in his voice. That comes from really studying the masters first, knowing and respecting the roots, having a genuine and sincere appreciation for what has gone before and then having the soul to deliver.

The man was a singer blessed with an extraordinary voice who knew how to use it and meant it every time he took a breath. He honored the music as he sang ….and he was decent enough to leave us one more set of tracks.

His catalogue from start to finish is remarkable and a treasure trove of nuance and finesse that even the most ardent fans can go back to and pick up on new subtleties yet discovered. We are all very fortunate to be in and of the same time as he…. thank you Brother Gregg for meaning every note, syllable and lyric. Thank you for writing brilliantly and singing so beautifully, hauntingly and righteously through all the tumultuous uproar of your life and ours in the good times and the bad and the in between. Thank you for making this world a better place. I mean that sincerely.

In Ocean A Wash the Gunwale you wrote “I know there’s a God up in Heaven who must love rock and roll.” You my friend must have been one of his favorite colors to paint with as he squeezed every last drop out of you he could. You felt it and went with it no matter how many challenges ridiculous and monumental self inflicted and not of your own you faced and you delivered respect Gregg much respect and thank you.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument, hat and guitar
Dan Toler – a lot of musicians in the world but Dan was one of the nicest ones I ever met. His playing was outstanding. A lesser known name but that didn’t mean he couldn’t play. I loved his work with the ABB, Dickey and Gregg. He’s well represented on the Enlightened Rogues tracks and he deserves his own recognition more on that later perhaps.

Returning to Enlightened Draw for a minute. I took my own advice and burned a CD of what I considered the stand out tracks from those two albums that came out in 1975 and 1979 and it works! Dickey and Chuck jamming their brains out Butch and Jamoie present and strong as ever and Gregg pulling out all the stops on heart wrenching ballads.

Can’t Take it With You is the first cut and it jumps out with a funky riff and rides along with a great back beat. Dickey cuts loose righteously at the end with a great amount of fire. Then they segue into the blues with Need Your Love So Bad and we remember the source. Win, Lose or Draw is an emotional tour de force. Crazy Love with Bonnie is just a fun raucous number. Pegasus gets overshadowed by High Falls but it shouldn’t Rook acquits himself well with some nimble bass work and Dickey and Dan’s playing is inspired. Gregg makes that B-3 chime righteously. Just ain’t Easy winds out at six minutes. The way that song closes will not leave you disappointed. It has a very emotional feeling to its playing. Nevertheless follows with some of that old Allman Brothers funk shuffle attitude and Gregg’s voice sings with the right amount of resignation.

High Falls is just a brilliant landscape of sound and energy. It has such a wonderful cascading vibe as Lamar drives us along. Chuck’s keyboards are Jessicaesque and the whole band comes together with the drums splashing everywhere plus it’s funky. We close with Sail Away for the brothers not present.

Death is a funny thing you never forget. Even though our friends and family are no longer with us we hold them in our thoughts and memory and the good in them never fades.

This collection of songs culled from both of these albums Win Lose or Draw and Enlightened Rogues speaks to me and scratches that ABB itch. Their talent is well represented and true. Gregg’s voice still rings very honest especially on Win, Lose or Draw. Underestimate or skip these tracks and your are cheating yourself and there is just no need for that.

Make your own copy using this song list and you’ll treasure it in your collection.

Can’t Take it With You
Need Your Love So Bad
Can’t Lose What You Never Had
Win, Lose or Draw
Crazy Love
Pegasus
Just Ain’t Easy
Nevertheless
High Falls
Sail Away

Total time 59 minutes

Order Now!
“Phenomenal on so many levels...tremendous!”

Journey Home Reviews

I can't wait to read your book!!!! -- Sophie
Loved it! -- Woody
I didn't want it to end ... Dave
Made My Upper Lip Sweat..- - Jay
I am definitely digging it! -- Devin
Hello from the United Kingdom. Thanks for a brilliant book -- Terry
I must tell you how truthful and inspiring it was -- Debbie H
Paul Burke is some fantastic, talented writer. Journey Home is an eye-opener. It is down to earth and humanly raw! I highly recommend it as a must read!!" -- Knowledge Tree Bookstore
I randomly stumbled upon this book online and it looked intriguing. Little did I know that it was more than just a curious cover...a wonderful picture of nature and a nice mindset of our place within it. I recommend the hell out of it!" -- Jonny Bear
Paul, I got Journey Home sent to my house and eagerly devoured it on a trip to New York and back via a long delay courtesy Delta Airlines. You proved to be a great companion... YOU ROCK -- Ken
I just finished reading Journey Home and I can't tell you how bowled over I am. It is so insightful and powerful and it emanates such wonderment of reality. It is Phenomenal on so many levels...tremendous! -- Aimee'
When I first started reading Journey Home I couldn’t put it down! Each person and situation became vivid in my mind. I could feel the book. It became one with me and the sounds ... here on Big River. The unexpected twists and turns, continued to peak my interest, and the first night I read till I could see no more. Then, as I awoke I read till I was done. A book of this quality is an Amazing Gift for all to read and Understand!!!! -- Dusty

Categories

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 126,291 hits