Archive for Allman Brothers Band

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Dickey Betts

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by 30daysout

Now this is one from my own record collection … today we blow the dust off Highway Call, the 1974 solo album by Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts.  But for his first solo album, he’s billed as “Richard Betts.”

In 1974 the Allman Brothers Band had hit a crossroads: both Duane Allman and bass player Berry Oakley had died, and the album Brothers and Sisters (mostly recorded after the death of Oakley) had been a hit.  But the album introduced a softer, country-rock direction thanks to Betts’ “Ramblin’ Man,” which was a radio hit.  Pianist Chuck Leavell was also heavily featured, and the result was a sound that strayed a bit from the Allmans’ trademark dual-guitar attack.  With the direction of the band in question, both Betts and Gregg Allman set out to cut solo albums.

Betts’ Highway Call was an extension of his country-rock approach, and the album’s opener “Long Time Gone” could be the sequel to “Ramblin’ Man.”  Instead of an extra guitar, though, this song has a steel guitar (played by John Huhgey) that opens up this road-ready album.  “Rain” adds the country backing vocals of the Rambos (Buck, Dottie and Reba) for yet another dip into Betts’ country-rock pool.

The title song, coming third in the lineup, is a slow one that steers us closer to pure country thanks to Leavell’s honky-tonk plinking.  “Let Nature Sing” begins the second half of the program (this is a short, six-song album) with down-home gospel harmonies and banjo pickin’.  To me, it’s a little reminiscent of the Byrds’ country sound on Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

Fiddler Vassar Clements kicks off the  stomp “Hank Picked,” and a square dance breaks out for 14 minutes on this extended instrumental.  This song puts Betts’ guitar work into a stricter country context, and he shines on this cut – it’s certainly the album’s centerpiece.  “Kissimee Kid,” another fiddlin’ instrumental (this one actually written by Clements), ends the album on an upbeat note.

Highway Call was successful but it didn’t get the attention that Gregg Allman’s solo album Laid Back did about the same time.  Allman had a radio hit with his remake of the Bro’s “Midnight Rider” and maybe Betts got lost in the shuffle.  But the two albums couldn’t be more different – Allman’s was more of a singer/songwriter move, while Betts’ was meant to showcase some superior musicianship.

Of course, you know the rest – the Allmans would record intermittently in the ensuing decades and finally they parted ways with Dickey Betts in 2000.  He formed the Dickey Betts Band and played also with an outfit called Great Southern, which featured Betts’ son Duane (guess who he was named after).  In December 2009 Dickey Betts announced he was no longer going to tour, although he played some dates as recently as July with Great Southern.

MP3: “Long Time Gone”

MP3: “Let Nature Sing”

Dickey Betts official website

Review: Christmas Closeout

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by 30daysout

Going to take a whack at the last few new releases that’s caught our attention in the past few weeks … a lot of old-guy stuff, a new blues-roots classic and a pretty good anthology from the Lone Star State:

Neil Young has been endlessly releasing archive material the past year or so, and his newest, Dreamin’ Man Live ’92 is a live show from the 1992 solo tour that preceded the album Harvest Moon.  Impeccably recorded and performed in the same order as the studio album, the songs here match or in some cases surpass the studio versions.  At the time Young performed these songs he received more than a few catcalls and gripes from audiences hoping to hear his greatest hits.  None of that animosity appears on Dreamin’ Man, though, and it’s too bad – that would have been a welcome spark to a live set that needs a little more life.

Stream the entire Dreamin’ Man album at Never Get Out Of The Boat!

Something’s up with the new Jimmy Buffett album, Buffet Hotel, and it’s not the apparent misspelling on the album cover (actually it’s a real hotel/whorehouse somewhere in Africa).  The 63-year-old singer/songwriter tries to return to his “roots” on this new album, and relies on co-writers to produce music that sounds an awful lot like the stuff he’s been releasing the last four decades or so.  You got yer summer song (“Summerzcool”), you got yer topical talking folk blues (“A Lot To Drink About”), and you got yer songs that are going to be live favorites on the next tour (“Rhumba Man,” “Surfing In A Hurricane”).  For Parrotheads only.

MP3: “Surfing In A Hurricane” by Jimmy Buffett

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Sampler Daze: Capricorn’s Dixie Rock

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by 30daysout
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The Allman Brothers Band

The Warner/Reprise sampler series wouldn’t have been the same without the contributions from Capricorn Records, the Macon, Georgia, label that put out down-home Southern rock.  Phil
Walden, who served as Otis Redding’s manager until the singer’s death in 1967, found this young Florida kid playing guitar and nutured the kid’s talent into a rock band.

That, of course, was Duane Allman and as the Allman Brothers Band took off Walden founded a record label with the blessing of Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler (whose own label distributed Otis Redding).  Capricorn Records didn’t take off immediately – as the Allmans’ first album sold poorly – but when the group put out their classic double live set At Fillmore East in 1971, Walden left Atlantic and signed a new distribution deal with Warner Bros.

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Gettin’ Into The Grooves

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by 30daysout

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The old-timers among us can remember owning one or two albums in every popular format: vinyl LP, cassette, 8-track and CD (nobody really bought open reel tapes or 4-track cartridges – did they?).  I’ve owned a bunch of albums in all of the four formats listed – and a few albums I’ve owned in a fifth format!

That would be the “Half-Speed Mastered” albums that first appeared in the late 1970s.  Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, which began in 1977, started to create new versions of classic albums for the audiophile market, in the form of Half-Speed Masters albums.  They painstakingly (so they said) tried to find low-generation copies of master tapes and pressed these albums on thick virgin vinyl.  The term “half-speed” refers to slowing the cutting lathe to half-speed while cutting the album stamper, resulting in a more accurate and deeply etched groove that held low tones better.

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Review: “Already Free,” The Derek Trucks Band

Posted in Review with tags , , , on January 12, 2009 by 30daysout

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Derek Trucks is one of the hottest guitarists in rock.  Gregg Allman’s health woes put the Allman Brothers Band on hiatus last year, so Trucks went into his home studio and came out with Already Free, his sixth studio album.  There is a lot here to appeal to fans of classic rock, blues rock and blue-eyed soul, from the rousing cover of “Sweet Inspiration” to the slide guitar stinger “Get What You Deserve.”  Trucks is a brilliant guitarist, but a non-singer: Mike Mattison lends his sandpaper vocals to most of the songs, Doyle Bramhall II takes over lead on two tracks and Derek’s wife Susan Tedeschi channels Bonnie Raitt on “Back Where I Started.”  There’s a lot of channeling here, in fact:  Mattison delivers a very Springsteen-like vocal on the roadhouse boogie cover of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Flood” and Trucks himself echoes Dickey Betts with the closing solos on “Maybe This Time.”  The album closes with the mostly acoustic title track, sounding for all the world like it was recorded five decades ago by John Lomax down in the Delta.   Already Free is an excellent way to kick off the new year.

MP3: “Down In The Flood”

The Derek Trucks Band official website