Your Sister’s (Record) Rack – Gregg Allman … and Woman

Click to unfold Miss July 1957, Yvette Vickers (NSFW!)

Have to admit, I have given a lot of thought recently on whether we should continue this series.  The original concept was to give a spin to old records that were not famous or well-remembered for one reason or another – mainly because they weren’t as good as classics like Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper’s.  But it was getting to be slightly depressing, because these mostly forgotten albums are still light years better and more listenable than much of today’s musical offerings.

As you can see, I decided to soldier on – but with an eye toward balance, I’ve resolved to seek out albums that were recognized as not so good in their time.  And, ho ho, that’s what we have today – the 1977 masterpiece Two The Hard Way, billed to “Allman and Woman,” who were of course Gregg Allman and his then-wife Cher.

The story starts in 1975 when Gregg Alllman, the only living Allman Brother in his eponymous band, married pop singer and TV star Cher in Vegas.  At the time most people felt they took this unlikely step because he was coked out of his gourd and because Cher was batshit crazy – at the time she and Allman married, her divorce from Sonny Bono had been official for only three days.

Of course, nine days after the marriage Cher filed for divorce.  He pledged to dry out and eventually won her back within a month.  But the stress of the whole thing aggravated Cher’s acne and she couldn’t tape her TV show.  Early the next year, in 1976, she re-teamed with ex Sonny for a new “Sonny and Cher” TV show and that freaked out Gregg and he left – but they got back together and had a son, Elijah Blue.

Whew!  The Allman Brothers Band had pretty much broken up by this time because Gregg was busted for drug possession in 1976 and in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Allman testified against tour manager John “Scooter” Herring and threw him under the bus.  For supplying drugs to Allman, Herring got 75 years in prison (he actually served only 30 months before the sentence was overturned).  The rest of the band considered Allman’s testimony an act of betrayal, so the band soon broke up.

Amid this soap opera, at some point Allman and Cher decided to cut an album together.  Allman served as the album’s producer, and he enlisted the help of rock heavyweights like guitarist Fred Tackett (Little Feat), bassist Willie Weeks and, on horns, Jim Horn and Randall Bramblett. The album was a mix of Allman’s Southern soul-rock and Cher’s pop stuff.

The album kicks off with “Move Me,” an uptempo skip that sounds almost disco (well, it was 1977).  Actually Cher’s yowling didn’t sound too bad when blended with Allman’s soulful singing but “Move Me,” also the first single from the album, was pretty terrible.  Then comes the first back-and-forth between Allman and Woman, on “I Found You Love.”  Exchanging lovey-dovey verses like a hellish Otis and Carla, Allman and Cher and some syrupy strings (or synthesizers) sink this into a shit-swamp of schmaltz.

Are there any highlights?  Well, maybe “Love Me,” a Leiber-Stoller chestnut first done by Elvis, might be considered OK.  Or maybe Jackson Browne’s “Shadow Dream Song,” which has no Cher on it.  Fact is, Two the Hard Way has plenty of low-lights: perhaps “You Really Got A Hold On Me” (the Smokey Robinson classic also covered by Sonny and Cher)  and the downright embarrassing “I Love Makin’ Love To You” are the worst.

In an astonishing display of taste – considering disco was about to become really popular – the record-buying public virtually ignored Two the Hard Way.  And, a tour to back the album had only limited involvement from Cher and lasted all of about 12 dates.  After that tour, Cher said Gregg was back on drugs; when Gregg passed out in a plate of spaghetti at some awards event, she filed for divorce again and this time it stuck.  She found solace in the arms of KISS bassist Gene Simmons, and Gregg would re-form the Allman Brothers Band with no original members in 1978.  What a storybook ending.

MP3: “Move Me”

MP3: “Love Me”

MP3: “You Really Got A Hold On Me”

MP3: “I Love Makin’ Love To You”

Gregg Allman has a new album, Low Country Blues, coming out on Jan. 18.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album is Allman’s first solo recording in 14 years and features Dr. John and Randall Bramblett.  Here’s a video of Gregg talking about the new album: 

5 Responses to “Your Sister’s (Record) Rack – Gregg Allman … and Woman”

  1. I passed on this back in the day, but damned if these samples don’t have me wanting to hear it now!

  2. besides just being a monday viewing pleasure, why the ‘foldout’?

  3. 30daysout Says:

    Why not? I sort of misjudged its actual size, it truly frightened me when I clicked on it today at work.

  4. God if i dont love Gregg allman and Jackson Browne – and Cher! Gregg has taken on a kindly admiration for Mr Browme sinc staying with him at the ripe early age of 18 i believe – he lived with him out in CA and continues to use his songs (i didnt know he sung another one in the album he and cher cut)
    REGARDLESS I Had the honor and priveledge of meeting him in 1981 and moving neaqr his home in sarasota and he broke my heart – He is a heart breaker – but i grew up and i learned to yet leave dreams alone – thats what theyre there for – when they turn into reality, they can bust – To a most honorable man who has not only survived and walked out of the burned house with pure white on but has taken risk in the face of the world inspite of the heat and opinions of others – GOD BLESS YOUR MAGIC CONNECTION to a one of a kind sexy voice and this only achieved for him in sobriety! I tip my hat and my world – and my DREAM to you! Amen Gregg!

    KarenPollina (“I Want to see you smile”)

  5. I bought this album the day it came out! I thought it was great then and it remains one of my favorites. Cher and Gregg’s voices blend together with smooth southern rock flash. It wasn’t popular at all back when it was released but then Gregg had squealed on his bandmates, and Cher was the butt of jokes then. Funny how time changes things. Now Gregg’s new album is receiving great reviews and Cher is heralded as a multi media princess with a number one billboard chart song in each of the last six decades. I have always wondered why artists can’t make music they like and release it without critics reviewing their personal life and barely mentioning the album that they are supposed to be reviewing. Of course it’s a matter of taste whether you like this album or not, but when you throw it on your turntable take a listen and enjoy the uniqueness of two seemingly mismatched singers who made one great album!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: