On my way home from the gym just now, the local college radio station played “Summer Breeze,” and it was everything I could do not to flatten the accelerator and run my car straight into a tree. Which naturally got me to thinking about the Allman Brothers Band, and how they lost not one but two members to motorcycle accidents, making the them (in my opinion) the second most unlucky band in rock history, right behind Lynyrd Skynyrd. I say second because while the Allmans managed to turn out some great LPs after the death of founder and legendary guitarist Duane Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd was more or less dead in the water after their 1977 plane crash, although they’ve carried on and continue to sully poor Ronnie Van Zant’s legacy by producing meat and potatoes rock that omits the meat.
I’m probably talking out of my ass here, but I have always been of the opinion that there are two schools of Allman Brothers Band fans. The first totally dug the interminable blues songs, as personified by the long-stemmers on 1971’s At Fillmore East, that showed off Duane’s chops in all their brilliance but left souls with short attention spans like yours truly cold, while the second dug the Allman’s fine collection of shorter and less bluesy originals, which showed more country and boogie influences, as exemplified by the exquisitely beautiful tunes on 1973’s Brothers and Sisters.
Because I fall into the second category, this “best of” compilation more or less satisfies all of my Allmans’ needs. It’s tilted just slightly towards the post-Duane Allman Brothers Band, and doesn’t include a single long blues jam—even the frequently interminable “Whipping Post” is from the band’s 1969 studio debut and only five plus minutes here—which means if what you want is to hear Duane lay down the law at length you’re better looking elsewhere, namely to one of the several live recordings of the band in 1971. No, this one emphasizes the more melodic and “pretty” (for lack of a better word) side of the band, which includes such lovely standards as “Melissa,” “Blue Sky,” and “Jessica,” as well as the countrified Dickey Betts’ standard “Ramblin’ Man.”