One of rock’s original bad boys has released his first studio album in 14 years. This is news for four reasons:
The bad boy is Gregg Allman, of the legendary Allman Brothers band. The same Gregg Allman who fathered a son, Elijah Blue, with Cher.
T. Bone Burnett (Of “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Crazyheart” fame) produced and helped with song selection.
Allman’s put together some fabulous songs and a tremendous roster of talent for the record.
Allman’s clean and sober. He underwent a successful liver transplant this summer.
In a promotional video for the CD, Allman says, “I liked one of a kind stuff. I still do. I love Muddy Waters. I have everything that Howlin’ Wolf ever cut. Same way with Lightnin’ Hopkins.”
Allman grew up listening to the Delta Blues on radio station WLAC in Nashville.
“They played old blues stuff,” Allman said. “That’s when I first heard Little Milton and that’s when I first heard Jimmy Smith.”
When it came to cutting this record, Allman was at a loss for a producer. His long-time collaborator, Tommy Dowd, died in 2002.
Allman found a kindred soul in T. Bone Burnett.
“We seemed to have the same outlook on the same things,” Allman said.
According to Allman, Burnett had a modem full of songs,he wanted Allman to hear.
“He said,’ I’m going to peel off about 20 of them and send ‘em to you,’” Allman explained.
Once they picked the songs and sat down to record, Allman added the Muddy Waters’ tune “I Can’t Be Satisfied” to the set list.
“These are songs that your average Joe hasn’t heard,” Allman said.
The CD includes “Floating Bridge,” (Sleepy John Estes); “Little by Little,” (Jr. Wells); “Devil Got My Woman” (Skip James); “Blind Man,” (Bobby Bland); “Please Accept My Love”, (B.B. King and Sam Ling); “Tears, Tears, Tears,” (Amos Milburn); “My Love is Your Love,” (Magic Sam); “Checking on My Baby,” (Otis Rush); “Reconsider Baby,” (Lowell Fulson); and “Rolling Stone” (Traditional).
The CD also includes “Just Another Rider,” by Allman and Warren Haynes.
“Low Country Blues” is memorable for several reasons.
The stripped down arrangements are stunning in their simplicity. It’s good music done well. There is no need to dress it up.
The musicians – Doyle Bramhall II on guitar, Mac Rebennack (a/k/a Dr. John) on piano, Jay Bellerose on calf-skin head drums and Dennis Crouch on acoustic bass – perform like a well-oiled machine.
Despite decades of substance abuse, Allman’s voice still shines. Newfound sobriety has obviously calmed his spirit and soothed his restless soul.
“In my younger years, I thought a couple of shots of brandy would get me in the mood. Wrong,” Allman says. “Or a shot of cocaine. Wrong. It’s getting up in the morning and bouncing out of bed and finding something to excite you.”
Look for “Low Country Blues” to be on a lot of lists at next year’s Grammys. Bravo!
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