IDLE A WHILE

It’s quite reasonable to consider The Allman Brothers Band one of the key American groups of the 70s. Their blues drenched southern rock defined a style that is eternally linked to long hair and even longer jams. So it is something of a surprise to recall that Gregg and Duane Allman actually formed their eponymous outfit in the 1960s.

The 1969 self-titled debut is raw and powerful and leaps out of the speakers like a charging brumby. Their second release, Idlewild South, is even better.* The six-member band are tight and confident. The grooves are infectious and memorable. Brother Gregg’s soulful voice soothes, entreats and preaches, Duane’s guitar is both subtle and demanding. 

On the classic instrumental “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”, second guitarist Dicky Betts steps forward both as a worthy compadre to Brother Duane but also as a composer/writer of skill and invention. His opening song “Revival” has a big dollop of hippy love ’n’ peace sentiment, yet remains as joyful and uplifting an opening track as any of the era.

“Midnight Rider” is one of the Allman’s best songs. The loneliness and determination capture the spirit of southern rock perfectly. 

Well, I've got to run to keep from hiding

And I'm bound to keep on riding

And I've got one more silver dollar

But I'm not gon' let 'em catch me, no

Not gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider

I love this song; it’s one of my favourite Gregg A vocals. The boy enjoyed it too, even though he heard the key line as “No I’m not goin’ to live in cat manure”. That’s a worthy goal too, of course, even if it is a bit less outlaw cowboy in tone.

Side Two opens with the Willie Dixon classic “Hoochie Coochie Man”, featuring vocals (in fact, the only Allman Bros lead vocal) by bassist Berry Oakley. The guitar interplay between Duane and Dicky is thrilling. There’s funk in the blue waters too, notably on “Don’t keep me wondering”. 

Gregg’s signature organ is always a jazz-tinged joy, yet on “Please call home” (and “Midnight Rider”) he chooses piano instead. It adds to the range of textures and leaves that little extra space in the music. Nice. The album closes with “Leave My Blues At Home”, another solid Gregg Allman composition that rollicks along with some great soloing from the guitarists over a rock solid foundation laid down by Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks.

The Allman Brothers Band played live a whole lot, and their concert recordings are legendary. Yet this Tom Dowd produced studio set on the Capricorn label is one of the finest releases by the band, and one of the most enduring LPs of 1970. Happy fiftieth anniversary, Idlewild South.

* The first two LPs were re-issued on the album “Beginnings” and on a single CD. Worth snapping up if you see either.

32 comments

  1. I send you a couple of ??? and a day or so later you are back. Fans of Vinyl Connection, you are welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trefology works in mysterious ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you back! You can’t ever go wrong with the original six! Great music!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danke, Hotfox. It is great rock music.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t have much to say about the Allmans, but good to have you back!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the greatest bands ever.

    Only two original members are alive. It’s hard for me to fathom that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. The first four or five albums are a great legacy though.

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  5. I smiled when I saw you in my inbox this AM, Bruce. 🙂 And *perfect*, clever title for the post. Thanks for the reminder re: the great stuff that preceded Brothers and Sisters. Butch Trucks’ nephew carries on with some fine music-making of his own. You’ll have to let the boy know that he’s come up with a great mondegreen (https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/science-misheard-lyrics-mondegreens)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post title, JDB. I did chat to the boy about mondegreens and will definitely show him that new your cur peace.

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  6. A pleasant surprise in my reader this morning, Bruce!
    That guitar interplay sounds particularly promising

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Twin guitars are twice the fun, Geoff!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You may have been idle for a while, but you sure as heck came back with a great band. Incredibly, the Allman Brothers were a late discovery for me and I literally got to see them only once a few months prior to their retirement. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. And, without meaning to brag, I’ve seen a few!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a real nice concert experience to have on your gig resume, Christian. There’s a reason so many Allman’s concert recordings have been released… They were great!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, I’m very grateful I had this opportunity. While the entire band was on fire, the standout to me was Greg Allman on lead vocals and the Hammond. I also have to say his final solo album “Southern Blood” and his untimely death truly moved me.

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        1. Must watch out for that final ‘solo’ album. Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Hey, long time gone! Glad to see your post, and I’ll be interested to listen to their debut. I’ll confess I’ve only really heard their most popular tunes. College radio stations, my link to new music when I was in high school, shied away from old hippie stuff, long long guitar solos, etc. And then in college, we associated “Southern Rock” with bars to be avoided — too many cover bands plodding through “Whipping Post,” PTSD truckers, wads of tobacco, ears, etc. on the floor, too many tales of addiction and crashes. I’ve always liked the piano & Hammond organ bits – probably shouldn’t admit this, but it never dawned on me, the whole beginning part on “Jessica” is played one-handed, I just looked at a video of Chuck Leavell.
    So, I’ll be glad to look up the debut album and listen with an open mind. Then maybe I’ll look up “charging brumby” or just let my imagination fill it in (a drunk rugby player with an umbrella??)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that lovely response, Robert. Those bars sound terrifying! Yes, the first two Allman’s albums are terrific and worthy of a listen in any era.
      As for your final, er, mental mondegreen, can I draw your attention to the New Yorker article JDB offered a link to? It’s really good.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great to see you back, Bruce. I’ve only recently started listening to the Allmans and I’ve enjoyed everything so far. I’ve no idea why it took me so long. This sound like it should be the next one I listen to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks J. If you know and like the Allmans, can’t really go wrong with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello there. I only know the Fillmore east album and a couple of tunes from ‘Eat A Peach’.

    Butch Trucks may actually be my favouritely named person ever, in any context at all, in the whole history of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, they are, aren’t they? Trucks, I mean.

      The live stuff is terrific. But so are the first three studio albums (I reckon).

      And ‘Hello’ back at ya’, Welsh person.

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  11. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Yes! You’ve been idle a while yourself, old friend! Hope you have emerged from the fires okay where you are, have wondered?! I have that first album myself, has a delicious crackle like campfire meat jerky. Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I wish idleness was my excuse, Bill. More an absence of space than a surfeit I’m afraid.
      But HNY to you too, mate. Although the bushfires licked suburban areas of Melbourne, the main devastation was elsewhere; we are safe enough physically.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        So great to hear from you again Bruce! Happy you’re still there. And here! Be well old friend. It’s a good life…

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I think I could deal with a nice dollop of hippy love ’n’ peace sentimentality, so thanks for the prompt.
    It’s vgood to see VC again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks DD. Li’l bit o’ jazz coming soon.

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      1. I look fwd to it. A bit of jazz is arriving here soon too. Every time the Dr keeps me waiting I order something new. (The smoke-haze got to me this year and the humidity isn’t helping either. Mind you, it might just be jazz-induced breathlessness?)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ‘Chuckle’ emoji, DD. Ages ago I wrote a post on ‘excuses for buying records’. Missed Doctor’s Waiting Rooms!

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  13. Yup. Seen Steve Earle do ‘Rider’ right after Greg passed away. Live before a small audience in Toronto. Gordon Lightfoot was in the house. Just watched a real good doc on Gordon last might. I’m back on the VC train.

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    1. Train kept a’rolling, CB. Though it appeared to be stuck in a siding for a while there!
      I should work on my acquaintance with Steve Earle.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. […] The Allman’s second LP is a ripper, as described in some detail in Vinyl Connection’s return-from-sabbatical post, Idle A While. […]

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