Guitar World celebrates the timeless music of the Allman Brothers Band with this comprehensive overview of their 25 all-time greatest songs. For the rest of our ABB tribute, be sure to check out Gregg Allman 1947–2017: Bidding Farewell to a Southern Rock Legend.
25. “STORMY MONDAY”
At Fillmore East (1971)
The Allman Brothers Band were essential in bringing classic blues music to a worldwide audience in the late Sixties/early Seventies, and their masterful rendition of the T-Bone Walker classic “(Call It) Stormy Monday,” from At Fillmore East, introduced the song to a new generation of listeners.
Duane and Gregg had been playing the song for years as it was a staple in their set with the Allman Joys, basing their version on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s cover. Here, Duane and Dickey display their complete mastery of the blues idiom.
“My biggest blues guitar in uences would be T-Bone, B.B. King and Albert King,” said Betts. “A big part of Albert’s signature style was his use of extremely wide bends. He would bend notes all over the place while staying on one string at one fret; he could get four or five different notes out of one single position! Albert sounds sort of like a trumpet player on licks like these. On the Fillmore versions of both ‘Stormy Monday’ and ‘Whipping Post,’ you can hear examples of Albert’s influence on my playing in terms of using wide bends such as these.”
24. “HOT ‘LANTA”
At Fillmore East (1971)
Made famous as an impeccably recorded live performance at one of the legendary 1971 Fillmore East shows, this cookin’, jazzy instrumental, an ABB compositional collaboration, features a brisk swing groove in 3/4 meter—a “jazz waltz”—that recalls the feel of “Whipping Post” but is slightly faster and edgier, with Oakley laying down an aggressive and tastefully crafted walking bass line, lots of Duane’s and Dickey’s signature harmonized lead guitar melodies and some of Gregg’s most inspired and ambitious B3 playing ever.
The tune is based on a repeating blues progression in A minor that’s extended from the standard 12 bars to 13 (if counted in 12/8 meter instead of 3/4), via a dramatic and decidedly jazzy twist—a chromatically descending dominant seven sharp-nine chord, starting on the five, E7#9, and traveling down to C#7#9—before restating the intro organ riff as a one-bar turnaround.
Gregg, Dickey and Duane all take fiery, well-conceived improvised solos, two choruses each, that lead up to an exhilarating duet drum break. Not content, however, to just leave it at that and come back in with a restatement of the “head” (melody), the Brothers inject a clever ensemble interlude riff into the arrangement, built around the drum break, giving both the composition and their performance of it added richness and depth.
23. “NO ONE LEFT TO RUN WITH”
An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set (1995)
One of the highlights from the two excellent live albums the released by the ABB in the Nineties. Betts’ ode to the good old days and lost running buddies quickly became a tribute to Duane, Berry, Lamar and every other fallen brother—sadly added to over the next 20 years.
This live number features a signature Allen Woody bass line, great Haynes and Betts guitar parts, a growling Allman vocal and a spotlight on the three-man rhythm section, with Trucks and Jaimoe augmented by Marc Quinones. In other words, the whole Allmans enchilada. No wonder the song remained in heavy rotation until the final show.
22. “YOU DON’T LOVE ME”
At Fillmore East (1971)
“Everything Duane and I play on the extended ending of that track was completely improvised,” said Dickey Betts. “I played a piece of an old gospel song, some train sounds and things like that, and Duane picked up on those things and went off into his own improvisations.”
The success of the Allman Brothers Band exploded with the release of the incendiary masterpiece At Fillmore East, recorded over two nights in New York City, March 12 and 13, 1971. What is largely forgotten is that the band was originally the “special guest” opening act for Johnny Winter, but in short order the Allmans were switched to headliners.
“You Don’t Love Me” is an old blues tune originally written and recorded by Willie Cobb in 1960. In 1965, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy released a cover version on Junior Wells’ debut release, Hoodoo Man Blues, upon which the Allmans based their version. The band uses this track as a vehicle for a near 20-minute jam, comprising the entire second side of disc one. Duane and Dickey trade intensely burning solos through the first segment of the performance, joined by Thom Doucette’s harmonica.
At the seven-minute point, the band stops and Duane ventures into a two-minute unaccompanied improvisation that is simply stunning, followed by an equally inspired solo turn by Betts. “What you hear was played in the spur-of- the-moment, which is exactly what the blues is all about,” said Betts. “You have to be fast on your feet, and react instantly to all of the sounds around you, allowing the music to happen in as spontaneous a way as possible.”
21. “SEVEN TURNS”
Seven Turns (1990)
The Allman Brothers Band had a lot to prove when they regrouped for the second time in 1990—namely if they could really make a run at the glories of the original golden era with new members Warren Haynes and Allen Woody. The title track of their comeback album answered a lot of questions.
A classic Betts, country-tinged rocker, it tipped its hat to Native American philosophy, offered “Blue Sky”–like uplift and featured Haynes’ slide and Betts’ leads side by side. The signature call-and-response vocal that closes the song came about naturally. Gregg Allman was shooting pool as Haynes and Betts worked out vocal harmonies and unconsciously answered their lines. Haynes had the good sense to recognize the missing piece to the puzzle.