Duane Allman, the original co-lead guitarist in The Allman Brothers, and who remains one of that instrument’s greatest titans, a pioneer who in a breathtakingly short amount of time managed to trailblaze the entire rock/blues/jazz idiom, tragically died 45 years ago today at the age of 24.
For many people, although his musical career was staggering brief, Duane Allman still remains one of the greatest if not possibly the greatest guitarist of all time. That platitude is usually applied rather irresponsibly, but a clear case can easily be made for Duane Allman which quantifies that aforementioned statement. Nicknamed “Skydog,” Allman had a panache and organic skill to his instrument unlike many others who have gone on to legendary heights and status. He seemed to transcend his instrument and genre, employing relentless and soulful leads on the guitar, a rare kind of a one-two punch combination of speed and emotionality which when fused together, and acting in metaphoric and literal concert with the rest of The Allman Brothers which took from a musical playbook of sounds, electrified Deep South-styled blues. Being the rare band that not only played songs that stretched time and conventional imagination but also created hits, The Allman Brothers, led by the sonic panacea of Duane Allman, has remained for the ages in musical history, a key influence both for the musicians who followed and the fans who listened.
Eat A Peach, one of the finest musical hours from The Allman Brothers Band, is now available in MP3 format from Amazon this month for only $5.00.
To dismiss this album (and the band during these early years of their career) as simply “Southern Rock” would be a grave injustice and a wrongheaded opinion by a listener who didn’t really explore all it has to offer. Yes, the band struts it’s “southern style” of jazzy/rock/fusion/country cornpone at first look and listen, but it was and still is arguably able to suss up complex arrangements, high profile, and extremely long jam sessions within its songs that repel some and delight others; it’s definitely a taste thing to still listen to songs like “Mountain Jam” which go on for over 30 minutes in this fast, bite-sized world we exist in today. However, a patience to an untrained ear for this kind of music will pay off in spades. The first album post the tragic death of Duane Allman, who stands as possibly one of the greatest American guitarists of all time, second only to Jimi Hendrix, includes some tracks with him on it nonetheless, tracks that didn’t make it on the stellar Live at Fillmore East set recorded a year prior to the release of Eat A Peach. His presence looms even over the tracks recorded in the wake of his death, the album opener “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” and the radio friendly track “Melissa,” but the band really burns on the Fillmore East outtakes: the aforementioned “Mountain Jam,” the get down and boogie “One Way Out,” the Muddy Waters-composed “Trouble No More,” and especially the emotionally soulful songs “Blue Sky” and “Little Martha.” A nice sonic tapestry Eat A Peach remains indeed.
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