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

 

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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.

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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

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Enlightened Draw:
There is some excellent music here although sadly not every cut. There’s a well known picture of the band just wasted out of their minds circulating on the web but I didn’t have the heart to post that one. Distractions tempered their focus. What we have here are two ABB releases from the band spanning four years 1975-1979. I bought them both when they came out.

Together if cherry picking tracks you can make a brilliant world changing disc. I often thought they should combine the tracks and reissue like Dickey did with his Great Southern and Atlanta Burning efforts.

Okay so what would be my “world changing” set list and order of tracks on my newly titled Enlightened Draw ABB album? I put some thought into this and they mix well together. The album kicks off strong and the change of pace tracks keep everything fresh. Unfortunately the first title is eerily poignant and unintended but we soldier on now don’t we!

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

That’s an hour of great vintage ABB. Including Sail Away definitely marks me a sentimentalist. Tastes may and will vary and much has been written in the comment sections alone on Amazon about the merits of both of these albums. Culled from both efforts and in and among all the tracks are some great tunes, beautiful, sincere playing and some of the old fire and honesty we have come to expect. Don’t over look these two efforts.

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This is another “joyous” release and if I’m writing about it you know I love it – I mean really love it and I love Elvin Bishop our very own “Poor Drunken Hearted Boy”.

Let it Flow is not only a great album it’s a great way of life. I recall once upon a time and still have Jeana’s postcard from Europe where she said she was taking my advice. She had just spilled a beer in Austria and was letting it flow. Now that’s a big sister. I have a great photo from Jeff hung high with Elvin’s Let it Flow poster underneath so you know this album has a huge place in my heart. Plus it’s just flat out fun! Didn’t Duane have a lot to say about music getting too serious and needing to stay fun?

Let It Flow is lighthearted, bar room, barrel house, not afraid to cry in its beer music that celebrates the environment and espouses a pastoral, down home philosophy that refuses to take itself too seriously except when it comes to having fun and having the right attitude even when facing death. Between all the music, fun and craft you might miss it but its there.

Every song expresses a positive take on everything from no regrets, no worries, to love, to life style, to fishin and well hell children life is for the living. If a fish bites my line on Sunday I’m gonna real em on in ain’t nobody cryin’.

Ground Hog is a riot like a boy loves his slide, the piano break on Honey Babe is strong, and all the background, singing, shouting and talking perfectly placed. I’m gonna pick up my guitar and start to sing…..let it flow indeed!

This album is jam packed with musicians including Dickey Betts, Vassar Clements and Johnny Sandlin from the Highway Call session and then everyone else under the sun. We have guest spots from Charlie Daniels, Sly Stone, Toy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker) Randall Bramblet (Cowboy), Paul Hornsby (Hourglass) , Mickey Thomas, and Steve Miller to name a few.

But the musician in that all-star lineup that grabs my attention is Johnny Vernazza. Johnny V is another gun slinger with great taste who I would love hearing more from and would have given Dickey a strong foil to play off of with the ABB. All these cats were co-mingling and cross pollinating in Macon at the time. It must have been a freak show and Grant’s Lounge must have been swinging crazy, stumblin’, dancing, loud and spilling out into the street.

Elvin Bishop is still putting out albums and performing don’t pass him by if you get the chance. On Let It Flow he crafts a bunch of rowdy songs and hits some righteous covers (Lightning Hopkins) Honey Babe (Hank Williams) Hey Good Lookin’ and (Merle Haggard) I’ Can’t Hold Myself in Line. Before closing with Bourbon Street.

That song in and of itself may have been why I applied to Tulane. Talk about train wreck they actually let me in……. but not for long (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I was too busy tearing around New Orleans. There was an old club called Old Man Rivers where I saw Elvin with fifty people tops, Dickey and Peter Tosh came through as well…. Let It Flow puts me in touch with and breaks the fun barrier as Amy used to say!

Of course we have Travlin’ Shoes a 7 minute locomotive that just cooks tightly with high energy and ringing guitar licks. Hey Good Lookin’ with Dickey and Vassar trading licks. The classic Fishin’ down there on the crick……how can you not smile?

Let It Flow is an acknowledge classic a touchstone of a moment in time that is eternal. Attitude is everything and Let It Flow brims with the right attitude song after song, note after note, lyric after lyric. You can feel the grass between your toes and smell the air, the sun on your back and the sky in your eyes. Get the whole neighborhood over and we’ll just have a time here tonight!

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Highway Call is a great album that I absolutely love! I would use it on my radio show to segue in and out of a variety of themes and sets including the ABB, Blues, Blue Grass, Country and Rock and Roll. Whether it was Coltrane or Doc Watson, Lowell George or John Hartford, Duane, Elvin, Jerry, Chuck Berry, Jimi, Janis, John Hurt or Muddy Waters I could lay this wax down and spin in and out of whatever set I could dream up.

Playing this album like all the music I played and play was/is a labor of love. The versatility of the playing on this disc lent itself to any moment in time across the musical spectrum. I used the hell out of this album often pinning the needles so the public could hear the birds chirping at the end of Let Nature Sing. I respect and love this album deeply.

Dickey’s in a reflective mood with his lyrics and playing and it’s a real celebration of living. The playing by everyone is beautiful, lyrical and pastoral very positive upbeat and it evokes the spirit of and respect for the environment that quite frankly this music all music springs out of as we do ourselves.

The musicianship is top shelf with Vassar Clements and Chuck Leavell just dancing and romping through the tracks affirming their taste skill and virtuosity. There is more than a touch of western swing as this music romps and all the musicians and singers get to stretch out. It’s just plain fun and the pedal steel brings it all back home.

Dickey’s Highway Call a 1974 release is a vision that precedes the David Grissman Quintet by three years (1977). The reason I bring up DGQ is that group featured Tony Rice whose uncles the Poindexter’s are all over the Highway Call album.

The music is authentic kids the real deal dare I say Americana before there was that word. Tony’s brother Larry Rice toured with the Highway Call Band on the Great American Music Tour. So the Rice family was certainly tuned into this album as it was being made, after its release and subsequent tour. I am sure it affected Tony’s approach not only to the DGQ but where he could take that high and lonesome sound beyond its Bill Monroe roots. Replace Chuck’s piano runs with Tony’s guitar and I think you see my meaning here.

Highway Call was a trail blazer of an album and actually charted on the Billboard charts so many people got to hear it and be influenced by what Vassar Clements called Hillbilly Jazz. Did I mention Vassar was on this album well let me mention it again and again and again. A hall of fame player in my mind he was fourteen years old when he started playing with Bill Monroe. And let’s not forget Dickey he’s a pickin’ and grinnin all over this thing. His ABB sensibilities are right there just below the surface without the Marshall amp roar but stylistically there and I say unabashedly this may be the best thing he has ever laid down.

Chuck’s playing is extensively all over this album as well and he is unleashed in much the same way he was with Jessica. If you love yourself some Chuck Leavell Brothers and Sisters you owe it to yourself to scoop this album up right now.

Get Highway Call back out and throw it in the player of your choice invite your friends over and have a barbecue while the weather is still nice and the grass is still green. It never fails to put a smile on my face and it’s a heavenly musical excursion. Hand me a tall one darlin’……

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Leading off with the Brothers and Sisters Super Deluxe Set which I am finally, forcefully tucking back into my collection Chuck’s dominance, artistry, skill and taste are all over this collection. The aforementioned A Minor Jam and the Southbound rehearsal are but two examples.

The live set from Winterland that make up disc three and four shine. The whole show holds up really well after all these years except for an unfortunate long solo by Dickey on Done Somebody Wrong and Dickey sounding so alone on all the Duane and Berry era tracks when he steps out for a solo.

However there are exceptions to that obviously missing Duane and Berry counter attack. Stormy Monday comes to mind and features Chuck well suited and perfectly dynamic trading riffs with Dickey and that’s not the only time. It’s a testament to how excellent a player Chuck is and how good a band we have here.

Other stand out tracks are all the tracks this lineup originated on its own and they fly. Les Brers clocks in at 25 minutes with an absolutely stunning drum segue that floats, chugs, crashes, meanders and gently settles down. It has a melody of its own. It’s a standout moment in my mind, stunning and speaks volumes to just how good Butch and Jaimoe were together and maintaining that sympathetic ear.

The power excellence and mastery of Butch and Jaimoe is fully realized here on this extended jam and it works as a standalone piece of music unlike any other drum segue, or solo I have ever heard.

I’ve listened to a lot of music in my day and have gone to a ton of shows both large and intimate and spent ten years plowing through three hour sets on the air. I have been studiously listening to the ABB catalogue processing, honoring, sharing, relieving and letting it inform my writing. So how can a drum solo not get old after repeated listening? Most do on just the second run through.

This is really a standout track and a word on Lamar as he gently joins the band after the monumental excursion stepping in as if on air. He melds with Butch and Jaimoe before thunderously launching the band back into the main refrain. Lamar helped anchor down the groove and held that bottom end firmly in the pocket his playing much more refrained somewhere between Berry and Woddy’s efforts Oteil being to the left of Berry in my opinion. Woddy I have a mad love affair with but later on all of that.

Chuck’s work here is what we recognize so clearly as if Big Ben was ringing right in our face. Who knew what to expect after Eat a Peach and wow Southbound and Jessica just re-energized not only the band but the fan base taking us by surprise and delivering the goods in a serious, beautiful landscape of poetry, finesse, and energy. We’re back kids and keep the faith!

Charles deserves high praise and appreciation for re-launching the Allman Brothers back over the fence after Duane and Berry. He is a pillar of the band propelling them forward in a significant way.

Brothers and Sisters cemented the ABB in the general population’s heart and minds. The road that goes on forever gets a little rocky going forward but the work Chuck did not only with Laid Back, Brothers and Sister, but Highway Call galvanized the concept of virtuosity be associated with this band to the world at large.

When Chuck takes the hand off on In Memory of Elizabeth Reed here on this Deluxe Collection there is no mistake that he is an Allman Brother, born a brother, and a brother he always shall be.

When he hands the break back to Gregg no one is wondering who or what that was or notices someone else has stepped in and Dickey’s playing on this live track is freakin’ fierce.

The music is the music of the ABB and Chuck Leavell is right there where it belongs bringing it to us despite the travesty of fellow band members dropping like freaking flies for god’s sake. But the challenge almost doesn’t exist as the gods call forth the muse again and again not to be denied by human failings. If brother Chuck doesn’t have a mushroom on his calf I’ll put one there myself!

 

8d4c4327bdf843bb16f2bb55698eae29--atlantic-records-allman-brothersBrothers and Sisters – The Super Deluxe Edition is a four disc orgy of music from 1972 and 1973 as the ABB sought to redefine itself after Duane and Berry departed. Disc one is the album of course but disc two has some very nice surprises of unreleased outtakes, rehearsals and jams.

Berry, Berry, Berry, dear lord if Berry could have just hung in there flat picking the bass like a guitarist working alongside Dickey what a dream that would have been. We catch glimpses of this in the outtakes.

Brothers and Sisters proper comes to us with Berry only on two tracks. And while we can hear him funk it up beautifully on Wasted Words with the ABB’s opening swagger fully present he’s lost in the mix of Ramblin Man. Dickey and Les Dudek’s guitars jangle out front so far that Berry’s left to anchoring down passive beats.

Duane gets the headlines understandable but Berry is a beautiful and unique player his loss is just as immeasurable. So it is with great joy that on the rehearsals on disc two Berry is featured on four more cuts.

To hear Berry funkin’ it up on Southbound is fantastic. It’s an instrumental take and they just get right into it with Chuck Leavell. In the liner notes I seem to recall Chuck’s glowing words about how accommodating and welcoming was Berry. It’s such a shame we couldn’t have had a healthy fully realized Berry for as long as we had Gregg and Butch and have Jaimoe, and Dickey.

Duane and Berry one or the other sacrificed to the music gods is bad enough (horrible for family and friends) but losing both wow what a devastating blow across the board. But we have their music and the soul of their expression.

On another rehearsal take the ABB casually saunters into Outskirts of Town with a mellow sway that gives Gregg and Chuck ample opportunity to play together and create. It’s fantastic hearing so much of Gregg’s playing and alternating sounds as he and Chuck trade passages.

The final track of the Rehearsal Disc is simply called “A Minor Jam” and it features Les Dudek, Chuck and Lamar with just Butch and Jaimoe. Maybe this is the birth of Sea Leavell in Chuck’s mind? I can certainly see that germinating because this track just rips it up in a jazz inflected cadence that jumps out with a crescendo and a very fast back swing. It’s a tremendous track and clocks in at a healthy sixteen plus minutes. I absolutely love it.

So “what if” Les had been brought in would the ABB had more of a jazz fusion bite than it already was going to have? Listen to this cut if you haven’t in a while. It’s strong. So what’s up with the whole Les Dudek thing?

According to Les after Duane died Dickey was going to form his own band. There was plenty of music at that time in Macon including the Caldwell Brothers and Marshall Tucker. Everybody was cross pollinating with each other and Les was living in Macon as well. Gregg asked Dickey to hang in there with the ABB and Brothers and Sisters was born. It appropriately features four Betts originals with Les Dudek’s help on Ramblin’ Man and Jessica.

Les is a great sideman who played with a bunch of heavy weights including Steve Miller and he has the chops. He would have really flourished with the ABB rhythm section and Chuck and their collective vision. Les’s solo albums in my opinion don’t come anywhere near the glimpse we get here with the McCoy Tanneresqu so called “A Minor Jam”. It’s a heavy jazz stretch that works and I for one would like to hear more of Les Dudek from these sessions.

The thing is Les is still out there and so is Chuck and so is Jaimoe. It offers intriguing possibilities and I’d sure as hell would buy a ticket and purchase the music. Lamar sounds great on this track so the bass player needs to have that jazz soul as well. If I were King I would make this happen.

Disc one features the original release and while we were all captured by Jessica the blues swing of Jelly, Jelly and Pony Boy really still captures my heart after all these years. The sequencing of the songs is excellent and Southbound just jumps out after Jelly, Jelly. After Jessica triumphantly closes Pony Boy waltzes in with a piece of straw in its mouth and a casual tude that flat out states fuck this bullshit we’re alive lets have some fun. It’s rambunctious, it’s acoustic with a standup bass and closes with some dueling hambone and a subtle chuckle at the end what’s not to like?

There is not a bad song on Brothers and Sister and it’s a triumph of perseverance and vision. It’s worlds away from Beginnings, Fillmore, and Peach but respectfully so and how could it not be? The road going on forever such as it does you’ve got to expect a few turns even radical and so we all have. Dickey’s melodic technique and voice come to the fore different than Duane but well established and part of the texture and landscape we had come to love. A necessary foil to Duane’s greasy slide attack and taste Dickey is now out front on his own. Truthfully in some parts of the many varied tracks on this monster release even with Chuck Leavell’s enormous talent Dickey just sounds lonely and it’s sometimes sad. I’m not taking anything away from the music but it must have occurred to him as well and all the band.

You have to compartmentalize the sounds of the ABB before and after Duane and Berry don’t compare them. It’s then and only then that they both stand as monumental pillars of our global musical heritage second to none both historically and righteously forever in the moment and hitting the note.

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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

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