I first encountered the Allman boys at a beer and clam joint on the boardwalk in Atlantic City where we sat across from each other on the horseshoe shaped stick. We exchanged some words and jokes as we all drank and ate buckets of steamers early in the morning after a night that hadn't yet ended. I didn't know who they were but suspected they might be in a band and a short time thereafter I found myself watching them open for Spooky Tooth and Van Morrison at an ice rink in some Jersey suburb. They blew 'em all away that night. I bought a couple of their albums but a speed freak ex-con neighbor in the apartment below mine sort of ended my interest as he blasted Whipping Post all day and all night until the raid when they hauled his ass away back to prison. By then I'd moved on to the Dead for my jam band fix and Duane died and Gregg married Cher.
This morning when this new Gregg Allman thing hit my virtual doorstep I almost pushed it aside until I saw it was produced by T-Bone Burnett. How does this man have the time to produce all these old guys from Plant to Earle to Dylan's kid and Cougar (showin' my age) and now this? Just doin' his part to keep the unemployment numbers down I guess.
I must admit that I'm not a blues dog. Not that I don't love the music and play Piedmont style myself and have a res hangin' on the wall, but after awhile the I grow weary of the same twelve bars and long solos. I just do. Which is why I was not going to bother with this album but decided that the (now) big name producer and having Dr. John on piano, Doyle Bramhall II on guitar, bassist Dennis Crouch and drummer Jay Bellerose was interesting enough not to pass up.
And so it plays on as I punch the keys and I must say, this is damn good. Gregg's golden voice is different...older and creaky with deep wrinkles and a lot of character. T-Bone keeps out of the band's way and lets them do their thing without all that bass-y over-production he occasionally offers up, or at least when Buddy Miller is playing or so it seems to me and my ears and maybe that's more Buddy and less T. I don't know. But for what it's worth, the January 18 street date was all about Iron and Wine's new one until I found this and now I think if this one finds a home, it could give Beam a run for his money. Or your money. Oh...just buy both of 'em.