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Bring on the blues jams - Official Allman Brothers Band Countdown - #1 In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (1 Viewer)

turnjose7

Footballguy
As promised, this Easter evening I am kicking off my list ranking 114 songs performed by the Allman Brothers Band. I previously mentioned that I will release songs 51-114 in one giant post with some general thoughts about that part of the list. While I love almost everything ABB and there are some outstanding songs in that part of the list, the situation isn’t like the Beatles where every song they ever did has been completely dissected and examined in excruciating detail. So I am not sure it would be worth it to do a complete write-up of every track. Starting with song #50, however, I will start posting more detailed commentary.

Deciding which songs to include wasn’t the easiest task. Certainly more than the Beatles and even more than Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers were a live band. In many ways they were closer to the Grateful Dead in that respect, being a primarily live band that just happened to put out studio albums rather than the other way around. Setlist databases list around 325-350 distinct songs that they played in their career. For this countdown I included every song featured on a studio album or contemporary live album, along with a few select tracks from retrospective live albums, compilations, and special editions which I think are particularly important to the story of the band. The full list of songs that I am ranking can be found here.

The pace of the countdown will depend on variations in my work schedule, but I hope to post two songs most days and finish the countdown sometime in mid-May.

With each ranking I will list the primary studio album that included the song. For some songs, if there is a particularly memorable or definitive live version, I will list that corresponding album as well. Songs that were only played live will have one album listed based on my preference. For each song, I will also include official band members who received a writing credit (but won’t list people who contributed to the song who weren’t officially part of the band).

Because the Allmans were a jam band, it introduces another challenge in the rankings. Many of these songs underwent huge variations from one performance to the next. I tried to consider multiple versions of the song when determining my rankings. Live performances carried slightly more weight, but studio versions were also factored in. Among live performances, songs received extra credit for having more substantial variation in sound (I am a jam band guy, after all) but also received credit for consistency of quality, if that makes sense. In other words, a song that was played really well in many different ways will be ranked more highly than a song that was played well but always sounded the same and will also be ranked more highly than a song that had a lot of variations but some not as strong as others.

Everyone grab a peach and settle in for some epic blues jams.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
Before officially starting the countdown, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a brief history of the band for those who are casual fans. This is important because the band’s history had a profound effect on its musical direction which in turn affected the rankings.

Duane and Gregg Allman were born in Nashville but spent most of their life in the Daytona and Jacksonville areas. As a teenager Gregg received a guitar and quickly discovered that he had substantial musical talent. However, when his older brother Duane picked up the guitar, Gregg was quickly humbled, as it immediately became apparent that Duane was a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy with the instrument. His innate ability was immense, but his musical drive and passion for getting better were even greater. Friend and legendary blues musician John Hammond Jr. once asked Duane how he got so good, and Duane responded that he took speed every night for 3 years straight and never stopped playing.

Duane and Gregg grew up hanging out with Florida blues musicians, sometimes sitting in for jams and playing in various bands at local bars. In 1965, their first true band, The Escorts, opened up for the Beach Boys. By 1968 Duane was one of the hottest up-and-coming names on the southeastern music scene. He was known for his phenomenal live playing, but also his proficient studio work at the legendary Muscle Shoals FAME studios, where he played with musicians like Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin.

Eventually music executives started to pay attention, and Capricorn Records was founded essentially to be Duane’s label. Duane had a vision for a new kind of band, one that featured two drummers (because he had seen James Brown do that), but also which featured two lead guitarists who would contribute equally to the music. He toured the southeastern United States looking for the best musicians, auditioning them in extended open jam sessions.

By early 1969, his vision had come true. The original lineup consisted of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts on guitar, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks on drums, Berry Oakley on bass, and Gregg Allman on vocals and Hammond B3 organ. Each musician was supremely talented, but just as importantly each was committed to the band. Duane saw the band as a brotherhood and thought of each member of the band as his family. Record executives wanted to call them the Duane Allman Band and Duane became violently angry by the idea. While his charisma, vision, and phenomenal talent made him the undisputed leader of the band, in his eyes everyone was equal. The brotherhood even extended to the road crew, who were always present at important meetings with the record label and who got paid before any of the actual members of the band did.

Unfortunately, Duane and Berry would only be with the band for a few short years as they both died before turning 25. The band carried on, but in the subsequent decades underwent multiple lineup changes before finally finding stability in the early 2000s.

Over the years the band had 13 official lineups. For almost that entire run, founding members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe formed a solid core. The very first lineup and the very last lineup each featured two all-time greats on guitar and an all-time great on bass (Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley for the original lineup; Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and Oteil Burbridge for the final lineup). In between they had many other outstanding musicians play with them, guys like Chuck Leavell (now with the Rolling Stones), Lamar Williams, and Jimmy Herring (now with Widespread Panic). But in those middle years they didn’t always have the leadership, cohesiveness, or commitment to Duane’s vision. It was at the very beginning and the very end that they truly combined transcendent musical talent with a powerful sense of brotherhood and produced some of the finest music ever known.

I write all that because it helps explain why the rankings shake out in the manner that they did. Unlike the Beatles countdown which saw good representation from all eras of the band, the top of the list will be dominated by material from the first lineup and the last lineup, and the bottom of the list will have a concentration of songs from the middle years.

Ok, enough rambling. On to the rankings.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
To start things off, here are my rankings for songs 51-114 on the list. I want to stress that just because I didn’t do a full write-up of these songs, it does not mean they aren’t worthwhile. I absolutely love many of these songs. Each ABB lineup was so talented, even during the down years, that almost every one of these songs has something to recommend it. Songs in the 90s are definitely worth a listen and songs in the 60s are in my regular playlist rotation and are songs I actively seek out.

Just a few comments on some of these. While the ABB were primarily a live band and even among their studio recordings they were much more album-oriented than singles-focused, they did release a number of singles and many on this list performed well. The very bottom (Binky: top) song on this list, “Straight From the Heart” was a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #11 on the Rock Top Tracks chart. “Crazy Love” (75 in my rankings) hit #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, “It Ain’t Over Yet” (91 in my rankings) reached #26 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, and “Good Clean Fun” (61 in my rankings) went all the way to #1 on the same chart.

I expect “Stand Back” and “Done Somebody Wrong” would be in the top 50 of many fans. Both were staples of Allman Brothers concerts (each having been played live by the band more than 250 times). And both are great, great songs with a ton to love about them. They missed out on the top 50 simply because there are other songs I like better. It speaks to the depth of the Allman catalog.

End of the Line” is a really strong song and one of Warren’s best early songs with the band. I really wanted to have this one in the top 50. It was the 21st most commonly played song in concert by the band, and has also been frequently played by Gov’t Mule and some of Warren’s other solo endeavors.

Drunken Hearted Boy” deserves special mention as the final song played at the end of the band’s legendary March 1971 Fillmore East concerts. Duane’s guitar on this is simply amazing. Can anyone listen to that tone and not be memorized?

114) Straight from the Heart – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
113) So Long – Reach for the Sky – Gregg/Dan 
112) The Heat Is On – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
111) Two Rights – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
110) Brothers of the Road – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
109) Famous Last Words – Reach for the Sky – Dickey
108) Keep On Keepin’ On – Reach for the Sky – Dickey  
107) Mystery Woman – Reach for the Sky – Gregg/Dan
106) Things You Used to Do – Brothers of the Road – Gregg 
105) Never Knew How Much (I Needed You) – Brothers of the Road – Gregg
104) Angeline – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
103) I Beg of You – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
102) Bad Rain – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
101) Everybody’s Got a Mountain to Climb – Where It All Begins – Dickey
100) Leavin’ – Brothers of the Road – Gregg 
99) The Judgment – Brothers of the Road – Dickey 
98) I Got a Right to Be Wrong – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
97) Need Your Love So Bad – Enlightened Rogues – cover
96) Hell & High Water – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
95) Heart of Stone – Hittin’ the Note – cover 
94) Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday – Brothers of the Road – Dickey 
93) Try It One More Time – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey/David
92) All Night Train – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Warren/Chuck
91) It Ain’t Over Yet – Seven Turns – cover
90) Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John – Win, Lose, or Draw – Dickey
89) Can’t Take It with You – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey
88) Just Another Love Song – Win, Lose, or Draw – Dickey 
87) Nevertheless – Win, Lose, or Draw – Gregg 
86) Sail Away – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey 
85) What’s Done is Done – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Allen 
84) From the Madness of the West – Reach for the Sky – Dickey
83) Blind Love – Enlightened Rogues – cover 
82) Shine It On – Seven Turns – Dickey/Warren 
81) Sweet Mama – Win, Lose, or Draw – cover 
80) Sailin ‘Cross the Devil’s Sea – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Warren/Allen/Jack
79) Firing Line – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
78) Loaded Dice – Seven Turns – Warren 
77) Who to Believe – Hittin’ the Note – Warren 
76) Just Ain’t Easy – Enlightened Rogues – Gregg
75) Crazy Love – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey 
74) Let Me Ride – Seven Turns – Dickey
73) Midnight Man – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
72) Can’t Lose What You Never Had – Win, Lose, or Draw – cover
71) Leave My Blues at Home – Idlewild South – Gregg 
70) Desert Blues – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
69) Mean Woman Blues – Where It All Begins – Dickey 
68) Maydell – Hittin’ the Note – Warren/Johnny 
67) Change My Way of Living – Where It All Begins – Dickey
66) Temptation is a Gun – Where It All Begins – Gregg 
65) The Same Thing – An Evening With: Second Set – cover
64) Worried Down With the Blues – One Way Out – Warren (cover/Gov’t Mule original)
63) True Gravity – Seven Turns – Dickey/Warren
62) Good Morning Little School Girl – One Way Out – cover 
61) Good Clean Fun – Seven Turns – Gregg/Dickey/Johnny 
60) Stand Back – Eat a Peach – Gregg/Berry 
59) Win, Lose, or Draw – Win, Lose, or Draw – Gregg
58) High Cost of Low Living – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
57) One More Ride – Idlewild South (Super Deluxe Edition) – Gregg/Dickey
56) Gambler’s Roll – Seven Turns – Warren/Johnny
55) Old Before My Time – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
54) End of the Line – Shades of Two Worlds – Gregg/Warren/Allen 
53) Done Somebody Wrong – At Fillmore East – cover
52) Get on with Your Life – Shades of Two Worlds – Gregg
51) Drunken Hearted Boy – At Fillmore East – cover 

 
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turnjose7

Footballguy
50. Every Hungry Woman (The Allman Brothers Band – Gregg)

Studio Version

Live at Atlanta International Pop Festival, 1970

In 1967, Duane and Gregg Allman were living in Los Angeles and being funded by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band manager Bill McEuen. Along with friends and fellow musicians from Florida they formed a band called Hour Glass and recorded two albums.  While they attempted to embrace their blues roots and put out some great stuff (see B.B. King Medley), they soon became frustrated by the Liberty record label pushing them in a more pop direction. Duane quit the band and left to go play at FAME studios.

Gregg stayed in L.A. to satisfy their obligation to Liberty. During that time, he formed a close lifelong friendship with Jackson Browne. He apparently had a less amicable relationship with a girl named Stacy who became the subject of both this song and “Black Hearted Woman.” There was enough discussion of misogynistic lyrics in the Led Zeppelin countdown thread, so I won’t get into that much, but it does make you wonder what happened in L.A.

It might be easy to overlook this song among the other six giants that make up the debut album. Indeed, Gregg has said it’s one of his least-favorite songs that he’s written. Nevertheless, this song still holds a significant place in the early Allman catalog. It opened the second side of the album and was the B-side to their first single, “Black Hearted Woman.” And it is an outstanding example of how strong of a band they were even so early in their career. Reportedly, the entire album was recorded in just a few days with this song being recorded in a single day. Jaimoe: “"We went in there, played our asses off, and that was it; we were done in four days and they spent the rest of the time mixing.” There were no outtakes or overdubs on the first album. Everything you hear on the album today is exactly as it was played those four days.

Gregg’s vocals on this song are top-notch, those stabby (thanks @krista4) guitars under the verses just sound mean, and the harmonized guitar fills give me chills. The most interesting thing about this song, however, is the trading off lead guitar parts between Duane and Dickey during the main solo. While they would sometimes do this live in their big jam songs like “You Don’t Love Me,” most of their songs, especially studio recordings, have a distinct Duane solo and a distinct Dickey solo. The trading licks here is awesome, and, as you can imagine, formed the basis for some epic solos when this song was played live. I particularly like the version played by “The Brothers,” a gathering of members of the extended ABB family to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, YouTube only seems to have a fan-recorded version and the sound quality is poor. Still, you can sort of appreciate the killer guitar exchange between Derek and Warren around 2:05 and then again at the end of the song. I especially love what Derek is doing around 6:57. I highly recommend getting the official concert DVD to get a high-quality version of this. It is phenomenal.

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
To start things off, here are my rankings for songs 51-114 on the list. I want to stress that just because I didn’t do a full write-up of these songs, it does not mean they aren’t worthwhile. I absolutely love many of these songs. Each ABB lineup was so talented, even during the down years, that almost every one of these songs has something to recommend it. Songs in the 90s are definitely worth a listen and songs in the 60s are in my regular playlist rotation and are songs I actively seek out.

Just a few comments on some of these. While the ABB were primarily a live band and even among their studio recordings they were much more album-oriented than singles-focused, they did release a number of singles and many on this list performed well. The very bottom (Binky: top) song on this list, “Straight From the Heart” was a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #11 on the Rock Top Tracks chart. “Crazy Love” (75 in my rankings) hit #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, “It Ain’t Over Yet” (91 in my rankings) reached #26 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, and “Good Clean Fun” (61 in my rankings) went all the way to #1 on the same chart.

I expect “Stand Back” and “Done Somebody Wrong” would be in the top 50 of many fans. Both were staples of Allman Brothers concerts (each having been played live by the band more than 250 times). And both are great, great songs with a ton to love about them. They missed out on the top 50 simply because there are other songs I like better. It speaks to the depth of the Allman catalog.

End of the Line” is a really strong song and one of Warren’s best early songs with the band. I really wanted to have this one in the top 50. It was the 21st most commonly played song in concert by the band, and has also been frequently played by Gov’t Mule and some of Warren’s other solo endeavors.

Drunken Hearted Boy” deserves special mention as the final song played at the end of the band’s legendary March 1971 Fillmore East concerts. Duane’s guitar on this is simply amazing. Can anyone listen to that tone and not be memorized?

114) Straight from the Heart – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
113) So Long – Reach for the Sky – Gregg/Dan 
112) The Heat Is On – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
111) Two Rights – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
110) Brothers of the Road – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
109) Famous Last Words – Reach for the Sky – Dickey
108) Keep On Keepin’ On – Reach for the Sky – Dickey  
107) Mystery Woman – Reach for the Sky – Gregg/Dan
106) Things You Used to Do – Brothers of the Road – Gregg 
105) Never Knew How Much (I Needed You) – Brothers of the Road – Gregg
104) Angeline – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
103) I Beg of You – Brothers of the Road – Dickey
102) Bad Rain – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
101) Everybody’s Got a Mountain to Climb – Where It All Begins – Dickey
100) Leavin’ – Brothers of the Road – Gregg 
99) The Judgment – Brothers of the Road – Dickey 
98) I Got a Right to Be Wrong – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
97) Need Your Love So Bad – Enlightened Rogues – cover
96) Hell & High Water – Reach for the Sky – Dickey 
95) Heart of Stone – Hittin’ the Note – cover 
94) Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday – Brothers of the Road – Dickey 
93) Try It One More Time – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey/David
92) All Night Train – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Warren/Chuck
91) It Ain’t Over Yet – Seven Turns – cover
90) Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John – Win, Lose, or Draw – Dickey
89) Can’t Take It with You – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey
88) Just Another Love Song – Win, Lose, or Draw – Dickey 
87) Nevertheless – Win, Lose, or Draw – Gregg 
86) Sail Away – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey 
85) What’s Done is Done – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Allen 
84) From the Madness of the West – Reach for the Sky – Dickey
83) Blind Love – Enlightened Rogues – cover 
82) Shine It On – Seven Turns – Dickey/Warren 
81) Sweet Mama – Win, Lose, or Draw – cover 
80) Sailin ‘Cross the Devil’s Sea – Where It All Begins – Gregg/Warren/Allen/Jack
79) Firing Line – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
78) Loaded Dice – Seven Turns – Warren 
77) Who to Believe – Hittin’ the Note – Warren 
76) Just Ain’t Easy – Enlightened Rogues – Gregg
75) Crazy Love – Enlightened Rogues – Dickey 
74) Let Me Ride – Seven Turns – Dickey
73) Midnight Man – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
72) Can’t Lose What You Never Had – Win, Lose, or Draw – cover
71) Leave My Blues at Home – Idlewild South – Gregg 
70) Desert Blues – Shades of Two Worlds – Dickey/Warren
69) Mean Woman Blues – Where It All Begins – Dickey 
68) Maydell – Hittin’ the Note – Warren/Johnny 
67) Change My Way of Living – Where It All Begins – Dickey
66) Temptation is a Gun – Where It All Begins – Gregg 
65) The Same Thing – An Evening With: Second Set – cover
64) Worried Down With the Blues – One Way Out – Warren (cover/Gov’t Mule original)
63) True Gravity – Seven Turns – Dickey/Warren
62) Good Morning Little School Girl – One Way Out – cover 
61) Good Clean Fun – Seven Turns – Gregg/Dickey/Johnny 
60) Stand Back – Eat a Peach – Gregg/Berry 
59) Win, Lose, or Draw – Win, Lose, or Draw – Gregg
58) High Cost of Low Living – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
57) One More Ride – Idlewild South (Super Deluxe Edition) – Gregg/Dickey
56) Gambler’s Roll – Seven Turns – Warren/Johnny
55) Old Before My Time – Hittin’ the Note – Gregg/Warren
54) End of the Line – Shades of Two Worlds – Gregg/Warren/Allen 
53) Done Somebody Wrong – At Fillmore East – cover
52) Get on with Your Life – Shades of Two Worlds – Gregg
51) Drunken Hearted Boy – At Fillmore East – cover 
These are the songs from this post that I’d consider for top 50 if I did my own Allmans list:

Crazy Love, Done Somebody Wrong, End of the Line, Good Clean Fun and Stand Back, you already discussed.

High Cost of Low Living — Great melody, superb Gregg vocal 

Win, Lose or Draw — Much has been made of the extent to which Gregg phoned it in on this album, but IMO this is one of his better ballads.

True Gravity — There are several Dickey-written or -co-written instrumentals whose every note pops into my head randomly from time to time, that’s how well-constructed they are. This is the only one in that category not from the 70s. 

Sailin’ Cross the Devil’s Sea — I just love the way this one builds. 

Try It One More Time — The bassline is funky as hell (I presume that’s the part David wrote) and the guitar work is sublime. Something else about this one that fascinates me: I believe it is the only example of Gregg and Dickey trading lead vocals on record.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
I've always really liked both of these songs. Your #95 Heart of Stone is a great cover. I think Hittin' the Note is one of their best albums from their later years.


Agree. It is a toss up between Hittin' the Note and Shades of Two Worlds for my favorite post-1990 album (excluding live albums, of course). A few songs from both albums will be ranked much higher on the list. 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
These are the songs from this post that I’d consider for top 50 if I did my own Allmans list:

Crazy Love, Done Somebody Wrong, End of the Line, Good Clean Fun and Stand Back, you already discussed.

High Cost of Low Living — Great melody, superb Gregg vocal 

Win, Lose or Draw — Much has been made of the extent to which Gregg phoned it in on this album, but IMO this is one of his better ballads.

True Gravity — There are several Dickey-written or -co-written instrumentals whose every note pops into my head randomly from time to time, that’s how well-constructed they are. This is the only one in that category not from the 70s. 

Sailin’ Cross the Devil’s Sea — I just love the way this one builds. 

Try It One More Time — The bassline is funky as hell (I presume that’s the part David wrote) and the guitar work is sublime. Something else about this one that fascinates me: I believe it is the only example of Gregg and Dickey trading lead vocals on record.


Nice thoughts. Agree that "Win, Lose, or Draw" is much better than people give it credit for. The album itself is a solid album. It just suffers from the comparison to the earlier stuff. Johnny Sandlin agrees too: "Win, Lose, or Draw wasn't well received, but I thought there were some really good cuts on it."

I also love Gregg's vocal on "High Cost of Low Living." 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
49. Wasted Words (Brothers and Sisters – Gregg)               

Studio Version

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash on October 29, 1971. The band completed the album they had been working on at the time of his death, Eat a Peach, and continued to tour as a 5-piece band. Dickey Betts spent a significant amount of time practicing electric slide guitar so that he could perform the Duane parts on songs that demanded slide (like “Statesboro Blues”). As we will discuss later, he even added his own original electric slide part to that album’s “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” though at this time he reportedly still was not very comfortable with that style (he always played a lot of acoustic slide but did not play much electric slide until Duane’s death).

The first album the band recorded with no involvement from Duane was 1973’s Brothers and Sisters. It would become the band’s most commercially successful album. The album would see Dickey take on more of a leadership and songwriting role within the group. It also demonstrated a more confident and proficient slide player as can be heard on “Wasted Words.”

The Allmans obviously have better songs than “Wasted Words”, and in all honesty some of the songs that didn’t make my top 50 are probably stronger examples of their musicianship. But this is one that I just always really enjoy listening to, I think mostly due to the interplay between the piano, which was new to the band on this album, and Dickey’s improving slide guitar. The bizarre lyrics have been the subject of much speculation and in some cases derision from Allman Brother’s fans, but I find them kind of humorous in an odd way.

In any event, the band must have liked it because it was a frequent concert opener in the mid-1970s. After being sidelined for years, it was brought back by the final incarnation of the band. I love this version from Raleigh in 2003. Derek’s solo at the end is unreal.

Gregg did another version of this song in collaboration with Johnny Winter. Winter was a frequent associate of the Allmans, playing with them at the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1970, and being a concert guest with some of their later lineups. Gregg’s version with Johnny was released as part of the deluxe edition of Gregg’s solo album, Laid Back.

Along with “Ramblin’ Man”, this was one of the first two songs recorded for Brothers and Sisters. Sadly, it would be one of the last songs featuring original member Berry Oakley. Distraught over the death of his best friend, the virtuoso bassist battled increasing depression and substance abuse and died himself in a motorcycle crash just three blocks away and a little over one year after Duane’s death.

Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are buried side-by-side in Rose Hill Cemetery. Berry’s gravestone reads “Help thy brother’s boat across, and Lo! Thine own has reached the shore.”

 
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simey

Footballguy
Gregg’s version with Johnny was released as part of the deluxe edition of Gregg’s solo album, Laid Back.
I love Gregg's Laid Back album. It has a great mix of country soul, r&b, and gospel in it. He has said over the years that he always wanted to do soul and R&B. His dream of a band was to have a horn section. The Allman Brothers Band was dual guitars with a lot of improvisation, and he said that was his brother's dream and idea. He said Duane was the leader, and when he died there was no leader anymore, and he didn't want to be the leader of the ABB, but he wanted to carry on his brother's dream. He also wasn't into the many improvised guitar solos, but that was a big identity of the band. I loved seeing Gregg solo/with his own band, because he had that horn section, and he did the songs the way he wanted them to sound, and it really complimented that soulful voice of his. He played his ABB songs, but they were more bluesy and jazzy with a whole lotta soul. I love the ABB too, but I'm a sucker for those horns and southern soul.

 

Mookie Gizzy

Footballguy
So far so good. I do like End of the Line. And all the instrumentals, so I’d have True Gravity on here too, but so much good music, nothing to complain about 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
Well, since things are going so smoothly, let's see if I can't stir it up a little:

48. Ramblin’ Man (Brothers and Sisters – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at Hofstra University, 1972        

This may come as a surprise to some as I suspect many would have this near the top of their rankings. It was the band’s most successful song from a charting standpoint, was loved by critics, and has become a staple of classic rock radio.

While I agree that there is a lot to love about this song, for me it remains in the second or third tier among Allman Brothers songs for several reasons. I prefer the band’s blues and jazz stuff much more than their country stuff. The country sound is a result of the increasing influence of Dickey Betts in the band. Even the band was skeptical at first, believing it was a good song but that it just didn’t sound like the Allman Brothers. They were reluctant to record it and even after it was finished there was debate about whether “Wasted Words” should be the album’s single instead of “Ramblin’ Man.”

Ultimately, I respect the band doing something different and in some ways this song shows how successful they could be playing many various styles. Nevertheless, if one is looking for country-style Allman Brothers, there are much better examples than this song. We will cover a similar but clearly superior song later in the rankings. “Ramblin’ Man” is just a little too repetitive to me. In the days of the classic Allman Brothers lineup, Duane would play a solo for five minutes and never repeat a lick. I find the guitar solo on “Ramblin’ Man” comparatively boring.

Though speaking of guitar, this song does have some of the beautiful guitar harmonies one would expect from an Allman Brothers song. These are provided courtesy of Les Dudek. Les: “We played it all live. I was standing where Duane would have stood with Berry just staring a hole through me and that was very intense and very heavy.” While he became the first of many to step into the Duane role and had the support of some of the record executives, Dudek wasn’t seriously considered as a replacement by members of the band. Butch Trucks: “"We went looking for this dude to kick his ###. Nobody was going to replace Duane and the very thought of it was infuriating to us.” More on that in a later write-up.

What would have become of this song if Duane have lived? We will never know, but it seems like it would have been a much more raw country blues jam. The song was partially inspired by Hank William’s song “Ramblin’ Man” and in its early forms it was gritty acoustic country blues. You can hear an early version on the Gatlinburg Tapes.

The band didn’t play this one live as often as some others (only about a third as often as their other big radio hits like “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider”). However, Dickey did play it quite often with some of his other bands. I like this version by Great Southern.

Again, there is a lot to love about this song and I have no problem if people believe it should be much higher. I just happen to believe the Allman Brothers have 47 better songs. It speaks to the depth of the band’s catalog.

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
Well, since things are going so smoothly, let's see if I can't stir it up a little:

48. Ramblin’ Man (Brothers and Sisters – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at Hofstra University, 1972        

This may come as a surprise to some as I suspect many would have this near the top of their rankings. It was the band’s most successful song from a charting standpoint, was loved by critics, and has become a staple of classic rock radio.

While I agree that there is a lot to love about this song, for me it remains in the second or third tier among Allman Brothers songs for several reasons. I prefer the band’s blues and jazz stuff much more than their country stuff. The country sound is a result of the increasing influence of Dickey Betts in the band. Even the band was skeptical at first, believing it was a good song but that it just didn’t sound like the Allman Brothers. They were reluctant to record it and even after it was finished there was debate about whether “Wasted Words” should be the album’s single instead of “Ramblin’ Man.”

Ultimately, I respect the band doing something different and in some ways this song shows how successful they could be playing many various styles. Nevertheless, if one is looking for country-style Allman Brothers, there are much better examples than this song. We will cover a similar but clearly superior song later in the rankings. “Ramblin’ Man” is just a little too repetitive to me. In the days of the classic Allman Brothers lineup, Duane would play a solo for five minutes and never repeat a lick. I find the guitar solo on “Ramblin’ Man” comparatively boring.

Though speaking of guitar, this song does have some of the beautiful guitar harmonies one would expect from an Allman Brothers song. These are provided courtesy of Les Dudek. Les: “We played it all live. I was standing where Duane would have stood with Berry just staring a hole through me and that was very intense and very heavy.” While he became the first of many to step into the Duane role and had the support of some of the record executives, Dudek wasn’t seriously considered as a replacement by members of the band. Butch Trucks: “"We went looking for this dude to kick his ###. Nobody was going to replace Duane and the very thought of it was infuriating to us.” More on that in a later write-up.

What would have become of this song if Duane have lived? We will never know, but it seems like it would have been a much more raw country blues jam. The song was partially inspired by Hank William’s song “Ramblin’ Man” and in its early forms it was gritty acoustic country blues. You can hear an early version on the Gatlinburg Tapes.

The band didn’t play this one live as often as some others (only about a third as often as their other big radio hits like “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider”). However, Dickey did play it quite often with some of his other bands. I like this version by Great Southern.

Again, there is a lot to love about this song and I have no problem if people believe it should be much higher. I just happen to believe the Allman Brothers have 47 better songs. It speaks to the depth of the band’s catalog.
When I did my Neil Young countdown, I ranked Heart of Gold at 50. Same idea here. It’s a good song, and the artist’s most popular song, but there are dozens that are better.

 

CletiusMaximus

Footballguy
Bold move sir. I like to see the contrarian approach. I love the country stuff but agree this classic is a bit formulaic. 
 

 

foxco

Footballguy
Great list so far. I enjoy Ramblin' Man but it doesn't get me excited when it comes on, unlike so many other Allman tunes.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
As a warning, I'm going to post three songs back-to-back this morning then it may be a couple of days before I get to doing another because a buddy is in town and I expect it to be a crazy couple of nights. 

47. Pegasus (Enlightened Rogues – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at the Capitol Theater, 1981

The first of what will be several Dickey Betts instrumentals in the top 50 is "Pegasus". For those of you who love the Betts instrumentals, don't worry. Some of them will be ranked much higher and honestly this one could have been as well. 

The late 1970s and early 1980s are generally considered the dark days for the Allman Brothers Band. Due to multiple internal conflicts, escalating drug use, and animosity toward Gregg resulting from his testimony against a former staff member in a complicated drug trafficking case, the band broke up in 1976. They reunited in 1978, but piano player Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams, both of whom had been playing with Jaimoe in Sea Level, declined to return to the band. The band therefore brought in “Dangerous” Dan Toler on guitar and David “Rook” Goldflies on bass, both from Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Thus, Toler had the unenviable position of being the first guitarist they used to actually try to replace Duane.

Released in 1979, Enlightened Rogues was the first album featuring what most consider to be the band’s weakest lineup. It’s actually a pretty good album and better than 95% of what you might hear on any random rock radio station but compared to the rest of the outstanding Allman discography it is clearly weaker and definitely more inconsistent.

“Pegasus” is one of the clear bright spots on this album and, again, is the first instrumental to appear in our top 50. Starting with Idlewild South, it became the norm for Allman albums to feature a Dickey-penned instrumental. While not as famous as some of his other works, Pegasus is a superb composition that can stand with any of his more popular works.

The song has drawn comparisons to “Jessica” for the way it starts with an acoustic guitar strumming a catchy rhythm before introducing the main theme. I also think one could draw comparisons to “Les Bres in A Minor” for the prominent bassline that is featured right before the main theme is introduced. The main theme is the highlight, featuring three-part harmony with Betts and Toler on guitar and Gregg on Hammond B3 organ.

While Toler often gets a bad rap he delivers a solid guitar solo after than initial statement of the main theme. This is followed by an organ solo by Gregg and then an excellent guitar solo by Dickey. One of the highlights of this song is the percussion break which has a distinct Latin flavor, despite being recorded years before Mark Quiñones joined the band. Both Jaimoe and Butch play conga tracks during this break. Another highlight is Gregg playing clavinet, which you can hear fairly prominently about 4.5 minutes in.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
46. Jelly Jelly (Brothers and Sisters – cover with some Gregg)

Studio Version

This was the most difficult song on the list to rank because it is really just a variation of another song on the list. Brothers and Sisters was nearly complete, but the band needed one more song. Gregg indicated he had been working on some new blues songs including one called “Early Morning Blues” which was heavily influenced by another song the group frequently played in concert, “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town.” From the list that has already been posted, you can probably deduce that we will talk more about “Outskirts” later.

The band pressed Gregg for the lyrics to the new song but Gregg kept ignoring them. Eventually he gave up and started singing the lyrics to Bobby Bland’s “Jelly, Jelly”, a song with a similar melody but a very different arrangement. There was some thought that Gregg’s failure to produce was because he was more focused on his upcoming solo album, Laid Back, than he was Brothers and Sisters. This is probably true, though producer Johnny Sandlin also implies that his escalating alcohol and drug use had a role: “As soon as he finished the vocal, people were waiting to take Gregg to rehab. He didn’t pass Go before heading off to get help.”

Thus the song that is heard on Brothers and Sisters is essentially of combination of “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and Bobby Bland’s song. For this reason, it dropped a lot from where it otherwise might have fallen. It remains in the top 50, however, because the music is so incredible. On this version we hear an outstanding piano solo by Chuck Leavell and maybe one of the most soulful guitar solos Dickey ever played.

Of note, Gregg truly was playing around with the arrangement and lyrics to this song. In fact, the band recorded a couple versions of this song. The most interesting is one using the title “Early Morning Blues.” This one was subsequently released on Trouble No More, the band’s 50th anniversary box set. It contains some of Gregg’s original lyrics and an extended outro jam.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
45. Nobody Knows (Shades of Two Worlds/An Evening With…First Set – Dickey)

Studio Version

Shades of Two Worlds was the band’s second album following their late 80’s/early 90’s reunion and in my opinion was an even stronger effort than the first, Seven Turns, which will appear on our list shortly. Dickey agrees: “The band had headed off the path of what the original players had envisioned from the first day. And with [Shades of Two Worlds] we returned to the sound that we’ve always had in our heads.”

Maybe this is no more apparent than in the epic blues jam “Nobody Knows.” The song sounds like it could have been included in the original lineup’s debut album. Indeed, some have criticized it for being derivative of “Whipping Post.” I can definitely hear that, but still think the song stand on its own as a masterpiece in the Allman catalog. Gregg’s vocals are chilling, the percussion (Shades is the first album featuring new percussionist Mark Quiñones) is incredibly tight, and the extended guitar solos are outstanding. During live performances, such as the band’s An Evening With…First Set album, this really became an epic jam.

Sadly, it was only in the setlist rotation for a few years. While he delivers a beautiful vocal, Gregg apparently hated singing this song because he thought it was too wordy. This became a bigger problem because Dickey had a tendency to want to micromanage performances of his songs more than the band was accustomed to, and when he tried to tell Gregg how to sing “Nobody Knows” it led to one of the most heated arguments between the two. Once Dickey left the band, this one was retired from live performances. Dickey would, however, continue to perform this with his Great Southern band for many years.

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
As a warning, I'm going to post three songs back-to-back this morning then it may be a couple of days before I get to doing another because a buddy is in town and I expect it to be a crazy couple of nights. 

47. Pegasus (Enlightened Rogues – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at the Capitol Theater, 1981

The first of what will be several Dickey Betts instrumentals in the top 50 is "Pegasus". For those of you who love the Betts instrumentals, don't worry. Some of them will be ranked much higher and honestly this one could have been as well. 

The late 1970s and early 1980s are generally considered the dark days for the Allman Brothers Band. Due to multiple internal conflicts, escalating drug use, and animosity toward Gregg resulting from his testimony against a former staff member in a complicated drug trafficking case, the band broke up in 1976. They reunited in 1978, but piano player Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams, both of whom had been playing with Jaimoe in Sea Level, declined to return to the band. The band therefore brought in “Dangerous” Dan Toler on guitar and David “Rook” Goldflies on bass, both from Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Thus, Toler had the unenviable position of being the first guitarist they used to actually try to replace Duane.

Released in 1979, Enlightened Rogues was the first album featuring what most consider to be the band’s weakest lineup. It’s actually a pretty good album and better than 95% of what you might hear on any random rock radio station but compared to the rest of the outstanding Allman discography it is clearly weaker and definitely more inconsistent.

“Pegasus” is one of the clear bright spots on this album and, again, is the first instrumental to appear in our top 50. Starting with Idlewild South, it became the norm for Allman albums to feature a Dickey-penned instrumental. While not as famous as some of his other works, Pegasus is a superb composition that can stand with any of his more popular works.

The song has drawn comparisons to “Jessica” for the way it starts with an acoustic guitar strumming a catchy rhythm before introducing the main theme. I also think one could draw comparisons to “Les Bres in A Minor” for the prominent bassline that is featured right before the main theme is introduced. The main theme is the highlight, featuring three-part harmony with Betts and Toler on guitar and Gregg on Hammond B3 organ.

While Toler often gets a bad rap he delivers a solid guitar solo after than initial statement of the main theme. This is followed by an organ solo by Gregg and then an excellent guitar solo by Dickey. One of the highlights of this song is the percussion break which has a distinct Latin flavor, despite being recorded years before Mark Quiñones joined the band. Both Jaimoe and Butch play conga tracks during this break. Another highlight is Gregg playing clavinet, which you can hear fairly prominently about 4.5 minutes in.
I like Enlightened Rogues quite a bit. It’s better than Win Lose or Draw and quite a bit better than the two Arista albums. It’s not the Allmans at their peak but it’s not far off. 

Pegasus has great momentum to it and in my mind is tied for their best post-1975 instrumental with True Gravity. 

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
45. Nobody Knows (Shades of Two Worlds/An Evening With…First Set – Dickey)

Studio Version

Shades of Two Worlds was the band’s second album following their late 80’s/early 90’s reunion and in my opinion was an even stronger effort than the first, Seven Turns, which will appear on our list shortly. Dickey agrees: “The band had headed off the path of what the original players had envisioned from the first day. And with [Shades of Two Worlds] we returned to the sound that we’ve always had in our heads.”

Maybe this is no more apparent than in the epic blues jam “Nobody Knows.” The song sounds like it could have been included in the original lineup’s debut album. Indeed, some have criticized it for being derivative of “Whipping Post.” I can definitely hear that, but still think the song stand on its own as a masterpiece in the Allman catalog. Gregg’s vocals are chilling, the percussion (Shades is the first album featuring new percussionist Mark Quiñones) is incredibly tight, and the extended guitar solos are outstanding. During live performances, such as the band’s An Evening With…First Set album, this really became an epic jam.

Sadly, it was only in the setlist rotation for a few years. While he delivers a beautiful vocal, Gregg apparently hated singing this song because he thought it was too wordy. This became a bigger problem because Dickey had a tendency to want to micromanage performances of his songs more than the band was accustomed to, and when he tried to tell Gregg how to sing “Nobody Knows” it led to one of the most heated arguments between the two. Once Dickey left the band, this one was retired from live performances. Dickey would, however, continue to perform this with his Great Southern band for many years.
I love Shades of Two Worlds and this song is a big reason why. It probably would be in my top 30. It attacks with a ferocity that we hadn’t seen from the band since the Duane days. I saw them in 1991 and 1992 and this song was a big highlight both times. 

Shades was a true comeback in every sense. I would rank it highest among their albums where Duane doesn’t appear.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
I like Enlightened Rogues quite a bit. It’s better than Win Lose or Draw and quite a bit better than the two Arista albums. It’s not the Allmans at their peak but it’s not far off. 

Pegasus has great momentum to it and in my mind is tied for their best post-1975 instrumental with True Gravity. 


Interesting. I am kind of surprised by this because there are obviously two pretty major post-1975 instrumentals that haven't appeared on the list yet and with your love of Shades I would have thought you would be all over one of them. Will be interested to hear your opinions when we get to those. 

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
Interesting. I am kind of surprised by this because there are obviously two pretty major post-1975 instrumentals that haven't appeared on the list yet and with your love of Shades I would have thought you would be all over one of them. Will be interested to hear your opinions when we get to those. 
That one from Shades is nice but it doesn’t move me the way the other ones do.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
We're getting into some really great stuff now and it is getting really hard to rank these songs. I think I like the next 7-8 all equally well and could probably put them in any order. I am going to post two back-to-back as they sort of go together. 

44. Seven Turns (Seven Turns – Dickey)

Studio Version (official music video)

Live at the Beacon Theatre, 1992

The title track from the Allmans’ comeback album is another Dickey Betts song with a country feel. The lyrics refer to a Native American religious belief that one makes seven important decisions in their life and those decisions influence the course of this life and the next.

The message seems particularly pertinent for that period in the band’s history. Following on the heels of the several subpar albums, subsequent breakups, and an eight-year stretch with no new material, group members were at a crossroads in 1989.  They had decided to reunite to do some summer shows in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the band. To round out their lineup they added guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody, and keyboardist Johnny Neel to the remaining core four. Many of the band members were initially reluctant about the reunion and certainly about doing anything more than a short tour, but there was some momentum from the success of the recently released Dreams box set and a resurgence of the popularity of some of their songs as album-oriented classic rock stations became more popular.

Ultimately the stars aligned. They got a new manager, hired back some of their former roadies, and signed a new deal with Epic. Most importantly the new band meshed well together. Especially significant was the chemistry between Warren and Dickey (they had previously played together in the Dickey Betts Band). For the first time since Duane’s death, they had two first rate guitarists who could go toe-to-toe with one another and make each other better.

The resulting album was a huge success. In addition to the title track, two other singles, “Good Clean Fun” and “It Ain’t Over Yet” performed well on the rock charts and the album received positive critical reviews.

“Seven Turns” has one of my favorite Dickey melodies and the guitar playing on it, both the acoustic and slide, is quite beautiful. But the real highlight of the song are the amazing vocal responses that Gregg gives on the last two choruses. This wasn’t planned. Dickey was in the studio working out parts of the song with Warren, and as he was singing they suddenly heard Gregg in the next room echoing back Dickey’s vocals. It worked, so they stuck with it. It’s hard to imagine now what the song would be without it. Like I said, this is a great song and while it is ranked #44 it could just as easily be #35 or higher on a given day.

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
43. Low Down Dirty Mean (Seven Turns – Dickey/Johnny)

Studio Version

Live at the Beacon, 1992

“Low Down Dirty Mean” might be the biggest dark horse selection on my list. It isn’t one of the band’s well-known songs and was only in the regular setlist rotation for a few years in the early nineties. Other songs from Seven Turns were certainly more popular, including the title track and “Good Clean Fun” (#1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks). But this remains my favorite song on the album.

In the last entry I talked about Seven Turns as the band’s comeback album, and to me this is the song that best captures why the album was successful. It shows the band getting back to its roots with raw, dirty blues. While the song was written by Dickey and Johnny, it sounds like it could have been written by Gregg in the late 1960s.

Speaking of Johnny, this might be song in the Allman catalog in which his presence is most felt. He contributes an excellent piano part to the song, but that is also him playing the harmonica part at the beginning. The Allmans frequently had harmonica as part of their live performances in the early days when Thom “Ace” Doucette was a quasi-member of the band, but they almost never included the instrument in studio recordings of their songs. It works so well here and might be my favorite part of the song. But really I love everything about this song. The main guitar riff, Gregg’s vocals, the slide guitar parts at the end. It’s all great.  

Here is some rare bonus footage of the final lineup playing this live in 2013, the first time the band had played it in 20 years.

 

Mookie Gizzy

Footballguy
We're getting into some really great stuff now and it is getting really hard to rank these songs. I think I like the next 7-8 all equally well and could probably put them in any order. I am going to post two back-to-back as they sort of go together. 

44. Seven Turns (Seven Turns – Dickey)

Studio Version (official music video)

Live at the Beacon Theatre, 1992

The title track from the Allmans’ comeback album is another Dickey Betts song with a country feel. The lyrics refer to a Native American religious belief that one makes seven important decisions in their life and those decisions influence the course of this life and the next.

The message seems particularly pertinent for that period in the band’s history. Following on the heels of the several subpar albums, subsequent breakups, and an eight-year stretch with no new material, group members were at a crossroads in 1989.  They had decided to reunite to do some summer shows in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the band. To round out their lineup they added guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody, and keyboardist Johnny Neel to the remaining core four. Many of the band members were initially reluctant about the reunion and certainly about doing anything more than a short tour, but there was some momentum from the success of the recently released Dreams box set and a resurgence of the popularity of some of their songs as album-oriented classic rock stations became more popular.

Ultimately the stars aligned. They got a new manager, hired back some of their former roadies, and signed a new deal with Epic. Most importantly the new band meshed well together. Especially significant was the chemistry between Warren and Dickey (they had previously played together in the Dickey Betts Band). For the first time since Duane’s death, they had two first rate guitarists who could go toe-to-toe with one another and make each other better.

The resulting album was a huge success. In addition to the title track, two other singles, “Good Clean Fun” and “It Ain’t Over Yet” performed well on the rock charts and the album received positive critical reviews.

“Seven Turns” has one of my favorite Dickey melodies and the guitar playing on it, both the acoustic and slide, is quite beautiful. But the real highlight of the song are the amazing vocal responses that Gregg gives on the last two choruses. This wasn’t planned. Dickey was in the studio working out parts of the song with Warren, and as he was singing they suddenly heard Gregg in the next room echoing back Dickey’s vocals. It worked, so they stuck with it. It’s hard to imagine now what the song would be without it. Like I said, this is a great song and while it is ranked #44 it could just as easily be #35 or higher on a given day.
Yeah this is too low. The bar that I hung out at in my early 20s had a video jukebox, and this was one of my go to tunes. Good times 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
Yeah this is too low. The bar that I hung out at in my early 20s had a video jukebox, and this was one of my go to tunes. Good times 


Fair. I almost moved it up half a dozen spots in a last-minute switch but I had already done the write-up. The commentary made more sense in this order and it was close enough that I decided to leave it. Once you get to about song #35 or 36 on my list, though, the quality goes up a notch to the point I feel it would be hard to justify moving it past there. 

 

simey

Footballguy
44. Seven Turns (Seven Turns – Dickey)
Like Mookie, this song reminds me of a jukebox in my early/mid 20s. This song came out when I was doing my internship in Florida. There was a bar/restaurant called Rio. If you worked in any area of hospitality you got a card, and with that card you got two for one drinks. People got so drunk in there. There were peanut shells all over the floor, because that is where you put them when you ate their free peanuts. They had a jukebox, and Seven Turns was on it, and it got played often. Near the end of my internship the place got in trouble for selling more alcohol than food. 

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
We're getting into some really great stuff now and it is getting really hard to rank these songs. I think I like the next 7-8 all equally well and could probably put them in any order. I am going to post two back-to-back as they sort of go together. 

44. Seven Turns (Seven Turns – Dickey)

Studio Version (official music video)

Live at the Beacon Theatre, 1992

The title track from the Allmans’ comeback album is another Dickey Betts song with a country feel. The lyrics refer to a Native American religious belief that one makes seven important decisions in their life and those decisions influence the course of this life and the next.

The message seems particularly pertinent for that period in the band’s history. Following on the heels of the several subpar albums, subsequent breakups, and an eight-year stretch with no new material, group members were at a crossroads in 1989.  They had decided to reunite to do some summer shows in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the band. To round out their lineup they added guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody, and keyboardist Johnny Neel to the remaining core four. Many of the band members were initially reluctant about the reunion and certainly about doing anything more than a short tour, but there was some momentum from the success of the recently released Dreams box set and a resurgence of the popularity of some of their songs as album-oriented classic rock stations became more popular.

Ultimately the stars aligned. They got a new manager, hired back some of their former roadies, and signed a new deal with Epic. Most importantly the new band meshed well together. Especially significant was the chemistry between Warren and Dickey (they had previously played together in the Dickey Betts Band). For the first time since Duane’s death, they had two first rate guitarists who could go toe-to-toe with one another and make each other better.

The resulting album was a huge success. In addition to the title track, two other singles, “Good Clean Fun” and “It Ain’t Over Yet” performed well on the rock charts and the album received positive critical reviews.

“Seven Turns” has one of my favorite Dickey melodies and the guitar playing on it, both the acoustic and slide, is quite beautiful. But the real highlight of the song are the amazing vocal responses that Gregg gives on the last two choruses. This wasn’t planned. Dickey was in the studio working out parts of the song with Warren, and as he was singing they suddenly heard Gregg in the next room echoing back Dickey’s vocals. It worked, so they stuck with it. It’s hard to imagine now what the song would be without it. Like I said, this is a great song and while it is ranked #44 it could just as easily be #35 or higher on a given day.


43. Low Down Dirty Mean (Seven Turns – Dickey/Johnny)

Studio Version

Live at the Beacon, 1992

“Low Down Dirty Mean” might be the biggest dark horse selection on my list. It isn’t one of the band’s well-known songs and was only in the regular setlist rotation for a few years in the early nineties. Other songs from Seven Turns were certainly more popular, including the title track and “Good Clean Fun” (#1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks). But this remains my favorite song on the album.

In the last entry I talked about Seven Turns as the band’s comeback album, and to me this is the song that best captures why the album was successful. It shows the band getting back to its roots with raw, dirty blues. While the song was written by Dickey and Johnny, it sounds like it could have been written by Gregg in the late 1960s.

Speaking of Johnny, this might be song in the Allman catalog in which his presence is most felt. He contributes an excellent piano part to the song, but that is also him playing the harmonica part at the beginning. The Allmans frequently had harmonica as part of their live performances in the early days when Thom “Ace” Doucette was a quasi-member of the band, but they almost never included the instrument in studio recordings of their songs. It works so well here and might be my favorite part of the song. But really I love everything about this song. The main guitar riff, Gregg’s vocals, the slide guitar parts at the end. It’s all great.  

Here is some rare bonus footage of the final lineup playing this live in 2013, the first time the band had played it in 20 years.
The Seven Turns album was a real kick when it came out because it was a sign that record companies were finally allowing artists like the Allmans to be themselves again. (1989 was the same year where we also saw creative comebacks from Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt and others.) If they had put this out in the 1973-76 timeframe, no one would have thought it out of place. 

And the title track was actually an expansion of the musical palette, thanks mostly to the ending, which I had no idea wasn't originally part of the song, while Low Down Dirty Mean was steeped in the blues sound of their early years. I got LDDM at my 1991 show and the title track at my 1992 show. 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
42. Hoochie Coochie Man (Idlewild South – cover)

Studio Version

The original version of “Hoochie Coochie Man” is obviously one of the most iconic blues songs off all-time. Written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters, the song is known for is supernatural voodoo-inspired lyrics and classic main riff, the latter of which became especially famous after being adapted by Bo Diddley for “I’m a Man” and Muddy’s response song, “Mannish Boy.”

The Allman version of the song keeps both of those elements, but otherwise could hardly be more different than the original. While the Muddy version is a slow, almost plodding 16-bar blues in which it seems like each individual note is being given time for your to fully take it in, the Allman version is a high-energy jam played at nearly twice the tempo of the original and brimming with drum fills and guitar breaks.

This arrangement actually had its origins in The Second Coming, a pre-Allman Brothers band featuring Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts, and Reese Wynans (former ABB associate and future keyboardist for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble). Berry does the vocal on the studio version and many early live versions of this song. Perhaps this is fitting as Berry and Muddy shared a birthday. While he may not be the greatest singer in the world, I absolutely love Berry’s vocals here. You can hear how much fun he has singing it and it makes the song so enjoyable. My favorite version from the Berry era comes from the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1970.

In later years, when Warren joined the band, this became one of his first major contributions. He took over lead vocals for this song and added an extended intro slide guitar solo, as in this performance at Great Woods in 1991. With the later addition of Derek this evolved into a very cool slide guitar duel.

 

Dr. Octopus

Footballguy
It's an odd phenomenon in that the Allmans are my favorite live band by a significant amount - I've seen them 10-12 times - but I've never really gotten much into their studio stuff. Not that I dislike any of it, I'm just not drawn to it despite it seemingly in being squarely in my wheelhouse. 

I do like some of the "newer" songs listed so far like Nobody Knows and Seven Turns a lot though. 

 
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turnjose7

Footballguy
It's an odd phenomenon in that the Allmans are my favorite live band by a significant amount - I've seen them 10-12 times - but I've never really gotten much into their studio stuff. Not that I dislike any of it, I'm just not drawn to it despite it seemingly in being squarely in my wheelhouse. 

I do like some of the "newer" songs listed so far like Nobody Knows and Seven Turns a lot though. 


I don't think it is that odd. Same for the Dead with me. I have hundreds of live recordings in my regular playlist but only a handful of their studio recordings. For me live music is just plain better than studio recordings. Not that there is no value in the latter. Some studio music is great and obviously for some groups the amount of live material that is available is much more sparse. But if you have a really outstanding live band that really jams, that is always going to  be more exciting. 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
41. Please Call Home (Idlewild South – Gregg)

Studio Version

I imagine most people don’t normally think of ballads when thinking about the Allman Brothers Band, but “Please Call Home” is an excellent example of how the Brothers could do this style well. As previously mentioned, when he was living in Los Angeles in the pre-ABB days, Gregg was hanging out with a bunch of singer-songwriter guys like Jackson Browne. This helped him expand his songwriting to include forms beyond traditional blues.

“Please Call Home” is the band’s first example of this style being included on one of their albums, foreshadowing the type of softer songwriting that would characterize Gregg’s outstanding first solo album, Laid Back. In my mind this diversity of style helps make Idlewild South a slightly better album than the debut album. Despite it being a different style than they were used to, the band apparently had no problem getting it right. The song was recorded in just two takes, even though regular producer Tom Dowd not being available that day. The result was powerful. Gregg captures the emotion of the lyrics so well with his excellent vocals.

Live version from the Beacon Theater with Derek playing some beautiful slide.

 
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turnjose7

Footballguy
40. High Falls (Win, Lose, or Draw/Peakin’ at the Beacon – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at the Beacon, 2000

Named after a Georgia state park near Macon, “High Falls” is another incredible Dickey Betts instrumental and the highlight of Win, Lose, or Draw. While definitely not as strong as their earlier albums, Win, Lose, or Draw is still a very good album and much better than their output during the subsequent Arista years.

In the “Pegasus” entry I started to talk about how important Dickey’s instrumentals were to the sound of an Allman Brothers album. He has some interesting thoughts on writing these: “Writing a good instrumental takes months, which makes them totally unlike a solo, though people often think a song with no vocals is just a bunch of solos put together. It’s a completely different process. Slow blues solos are just your heart coming out, but all the solos happen too fast to event think about. They’re the closet thing to Zen that I do. If I think about it, it’s gone. It's ruined…The instrumentals, on the other hand, are very studied. It’s called architecture, and for a good reason. It’s much like somebody designing a building. It’s meticulously constructed, and every aspect has its placed.”

“High Falls” is certainly epic. At more than 14 minutes long it is the longest studio track ever recorded by the band (though obviously live versions of many songs were significantly longer).

The song demonstrates that even during a time when there had started to be some fractures in the band, their musicianship was still top notch. I love the main guitar riff and Dickey’s work throughout is superb. But the real highlights of this one are Chuck Leavell’s jazzy piano playing and the complementary bass of Lamar Williams and drumming by Jaimoe. While obviously not the first Allman Brothers instrumental to be heavily jazz influenced, the prominence of the sound here foreshadowed the creation of the jazz fusion trio Sea Level by Leavell, Williams, and Jaimoe just a year later.

Dickey frequently played this one with Great Southern and there are some awesome recordings out there (live version from 1978).

 

Dr. Octopus

Footballguy
I don't think it is that odd. Same for the Dead with me. I have hundreds of live recordings in my regular playlist but only a handful of their studio recordings. For me live music is just plain better than studio recordings. Not that there is no value in the latter. Some studio music is great and obviously for some groups the amount of live material that is available is much more sparse. But if you have a really outstanding live band that really jams, that is always going to  be more exciting. 
I’d say same with the Dead for me also but I do think American Beauty, WorkingMan’s Dead, Terrapin Station and In the Dark are all great albums that I’ll listen to - but they are a live band for me as well.

 

Pip's Invitation

Footballguy
40. High Falls (Win, Lose, or Draw/Peakin’ at the Beacon – Dickey)

Studio Version

Live at the Beacon, 2000

Named after a Georgia state park near Macon, “High Falls” is another incredible Dickey Betts instrumental and the highlight of Win, Lose, or Draw. While definitely not as strong as their earlier albums, Win, Lose, or Draw is still a very good album and much better than their output during the subsequent Arista years.

In the “Pegasus” entry I started to talk about how important Dickey’s instrumentals were to the sound of an Allman Brothers album. He has some interesting thoughts on writing these: “Writing a good instrumental takes months, which makes them totally unlike a solo, though people often think a song with no vocals is just a bunch of solos put together. It’s a completely different process. Slow blues solos are just your heart coming out, but all the solos happen too fast to event think about. They’re the closet thing to Zen that I do. If I think about it, it’s gone. It's ruined…The instrumentals, on the other hand, are very studied. It’s called architecture, and for a good reason. It’s much like somebody designing a building. It’s meticulously constructed, and every aspect has its placed.”

“High Falls” is certainly epic. At more than 14 minutes long it is the longest studio track ever recorded by the band (though obviously live versions of many songs were significantly longer).

The song demonstrates that even during a time when there had started to be some fractures in the band, their musicianship was still top notch. I love the main guitar riff and Dickey’s work throughout is superb. But the real highlights of this one are Chuck Leavell’s jazzy piano playing and the complementary bass of Lamar Williams and drumming by Jaimoe. While obviously not the first Allman Brothers instrumental to be heavily jazz influenced, the prominence of the sound here foreshadowed the creation of the jazz fusion trio Sea Level by Leavell, Williams, and Jaimoe just a year later.

Dickey frequently played this one with Great Southern and there are some awesome recordings out there (live version from 1978).
When we did the Genrepalooza 4 draft (which lasted nearly a year), I selected this for the Jazz-Rock Fusion playlist, because that's basically what it is. Lamar Williams does stuff on this track that I don't think any Allmans bassist before or since would have thought to do. It's something I put on when I feel like blissing out for about 15 minutes. 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
I’m torn. I can listen to Gregg howl the blues all day, but I think I like the instrumentals more. Epic tune here


That's the dilemma but also what makes the band so great. The juxtaposition of the two made both their albums and live shows so brilliant. 

 

turnjose7

Footballguy
39. Dimples (Live at Ludlow Garage: 1970 – cover)

Live at Ludlow Garage, 1970

Live at Swarthmore College, 1970

The first song on our list that comes exclusively from a retrospective live album is a cover of the John Lee Hooker blues classic. During a previous discussion of the best Allman albums, I mentioned that Live at Ludlow Garage: 1970 is one of my favorites of the retrospective live albums, probably only behind Atlanta International Pop Festival and Fillmore West ’71. I may be a little biased being a native Cincinnatian and living just down the street from this venue during med school, but it is really an outstanding concert. I highly recommend everyone check it out, as this will not be the last time it is mentioned during this countdown.

This track has a special place in the Allman catalog because for years it was the only officially released recording featuring Duane on vocals. In the early days when Duane was looking for future members of his band, he would host jam sessions with local Florida musicians. During these sessions vocals would be shared by Duane, Dickey, and Berry. In 2020 Jacksonville Beach 1969 was released. This concert is considered by some to be an Allman Brothers Band recording but was recorded before Gregg was officially part of the band. Others therefore consider it to be a Second Coming show with Duane sitting in. Regardless, you can hear Duane sing “Hey Joe” on this album. But once Gregg was fully integrated into the band it was rare for Duane to take lead vocals, so this track is a special treat. While no on will confuse him for his brother, I like his voice on this song.

This track also features some great guitar work and is just a really fun cover. I like the fake-out ending halfway through followed by another couple minutes of jamming.

 

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