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The Allman Brothers In 20 Songs

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They began by echoing the British beat boom and blues heritage. They came to represent all that was quintessentially American in blues-rock music, with a recorded legacy that stands tall, more than 45 years after their first album. Now, with their finest work in one bespoke playlist, we present the Allman Brothers In 20 Songs.

The selection begins with a track featured on the 1989 box set Dreams, but originated during those early days, even before the band’s formation. The cover of ‘Spoonful’ by Gregg and older brother Duane is a fascinating chance to eavesdrop on their formative sound, when they were known as the Allman Joys. At the time, they were also showing their awareness of what was happening across the Atlantic, with covers such as the Yardbirds’ ‘Shapes Of Things.’

The second selection is from the new, deluxe edition of the Allmans’ famous show at the Fillmore East in 1971, now lavishly repackaged across six CDs as The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings. From the first disc, comprised entirely of previously unreleased tapes, comes a version of one of the most celebrated live numbers by a band whose concerts became legendary, ‘Statesboro Blues.’

Then, from the beginning of their recording story, there’s the Muddy Waters song ‘Trouble No More,’ part of a self-titled debut album released a few weeks before the end of the 1960s. These were the days of gigging hard, developing their own songwriting and toughing it out until significant sales success arrived. We include Gregg Allman’s closing number from the album, the blues-fuelled ‘Whipping Post.’

From 1970’s Idlewild South, produced by the great Tom Dowd, we have their take on Willie Dixon’s ‘Hoochie Coochie Man,’ but also firm evidence that their own sound was emerging, on Dickey Betts’ ‘Revival.’ The combination of his and Duane Allman’s guitars, Gregg’s vocals and keyboards was seductively and authentically Southern.

1973’s Brothers And Sisters represents the ABB at its commercial high point. Its two most celebrated tracks, the tour de force instrumental ‘Jessica’ and ‘Ramblin’ Man,’’ are an essential part of any Allmans playlist. As Betts told the Wall Street Journal in later years: “The song, as I originally wrote it, had a country flavour, and needed to be Allmanised—given that rock-blues feeling. I thought of Eric Clapton‘s ‘Layla’ —which had come out a year earlier—with its long jam at the end. I figured something like that might work.”

Brothers and Sisters gives us another definitive Allmans rocker, ‘Southbound,’ before their celebrated ‘Midnight Rider’ takes us back to Idlewild South, with “one more silver dollar.” That album also offers Betts’ jazzy instrumental ‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,’ named for a headstone that he saw in Macon, Georgia.

Another landmark band performance came at the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival, from which comes part two of their ‘Mountain Jam.’ The original At Fillmore East album of 1971 features two more tips of the hat to the band’s blues forebears, Elmore James on ‘Done Somebody Wrong’ and T-Bone Walker on ‘Stormy Monday.’

The Fillmore album is only one of countless live releases in the catalogue. From 1972’s Eat A Peach, which combined stage and studio work and was issued a few months after Duane’s tragic death in a motorcycle crash, there’s the softer side of the Allmans, with Gregg’s ‘Melissa’ and then, as a sad farewell to Duane, his acoustic  instrumental ‘Little Martha.’

Then it’s back to Brothers And Sisters for its opening Gregg composition ‘Wasted Words,’ and on to 1975’s Win, Lose Or Draw for ‘Nevertheless.’ 1981’s Brothers Of The Road contained the last Allmans song to make the US top 40, the lighter Betts/Johnny Cobb number ‘Straight From The Heart.’

The story, and the playlist, ends back where the Allman Brothers Band were probably happiest, on stage, with ‘Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,’ from the 1971 Fillmore East Recordings set. Let us know which other great moments in Allman recording history you would have chosen.

Follow the Allman Brothers In 20 Songs playlist. 

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Tom

    March 10, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Since you focused on the 70s with one foray into the early 80s, I’ll stick with that era.

    Win, Lose or Draw
    One Way Out
    Crazy Love
    Angeline
    Blue Sky
    Hot’Lanta

    If you want to include 1989 and on, you must include Seven Turns and Nobody Knows.

    • Karl

      March 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Good Choices. Win Lose Or Draw always Grabs me

    • Steve Holbrook

      March 11, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Dreams.
      Heart of Stone on Hittin the note.

      • Mark

        March 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm

        How bout #1 track on Hittin the Note, ” Firing Line”

  2. Don Butler

    March 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Duane was the “older brother”, not Gregg, as you’ve stated in the 2nd paragraph: The cover of ‘Spoonful’ by Gregg and younger brother Duane is a fascinating chance to eavesdrop on their formative sound, when they were known as the Allman Joys.
    How am I suppose to take your site and contents seriously if you can’t even get this right? Duane was a born leader!

    • Tom

      March 11, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Amen!

    • uDiscover

      March 11, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Don, apologies and of course you are right. It was a mistake, but we think you’re being a little harsh to say you cannot take the the site and its contents seriously. We all make mistakes, I’m sure you’ve made the odd one here and there 🙂 But thanks again for correcting us.

  3. Namklak

    March 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Soulshine deserves to be on this list.

  4. TK

    March 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I’ve been listening to some of their recordings from 1990s on and especially this year and I absolutely love some of their later stuff. The acoustic version of Elizabeth Reed is incredible and from this last decade, gotta include Dusk til Dawn and Desdemona. I think I’d need to go back and include Les Brers in A Minor. Infact, I’d select the live version from their very last show.

  5. Bill

    March 10, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    The only known Allman Brothers Band recording from The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, where over 600,000 gathered on July 28th, 1973, is featured on Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas….Come and Go Blues captured the essence of the festival, where the Dead and The band preceded the outstanding performance that evening by a group still reeling from the deaths of Duane and Berry Oakley… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hlde6oVqIw

  6. Eduardo Macedo

    March 10, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    ‘Blue Sky’, no???

  7. Bob

    March 11, 2015 at 2:53 am

    My tops are:
    In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – Idlewold South
    In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – Live at Filmore East
    Jessica
    Les Brers in A minor
    Stand Back
    Stormy Monday – Fillmore
    Stormy Monday Blues – Brother an Sisters
    Blue Sky
    Dreams
    Win, Lose or Draw
    Hoochie Coochie Man
    Little Martha
    Good Clean Fun

  8. jerl55

    March 11, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Please edit.

  9. Alan Rosenfeld

    March 11, 2015 at 4:58 am

    The first two cuts on Idlewild South – Revival into Don’t Keep Me Wondering. Actually, all of side one…

  10. Mongrel 1%er,Hamilton,Ohio-IHMC

    March 11, 2015 at 8:08 am

    They also recorded an CD when they broke down in Cincinnati Allman Bros.Live at the Ludlow Garage back in the day up in Clifton,Cincinnati

  11. Misha

    March 11, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Each and every song of ABB is a sight for sore eyes.

  12. Ricky Graham

    March 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I seen them in 1969 I can’t remember the name of the place it was close to a drag trip in Fla

    • Wayne

      March 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Probably Hollywood Sportatorium at the Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park. Which has a drag strip. The Grateful Dead also played there.

  13. Chrissy V

    March 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Excellent list, but I don’t see how it’s possible to omit Dreams from 1969’s self titled The Allman Brothers Band. Hard to choose, but it’s probably still my number one.

  14. Jordan M.

    March 11, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    99% of anything published about the ABB, wether it be song lists such as this or articles trying to disect the band, are just wrong. This list is no different.

  15. Artie Barnett

    March 11, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Get your hands on the 1971 Fillmore East Recordings and listen to Night three’s rendition of “You Don’t Love Me” It’s outstanding!

  16. Eric

    March 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    As a multiple decades fan of the Allmans, I know it’s tough to pick just 20 ABB songs, but really, no list should be without Blue Sky or One Way Out when making that list. That’s when your list may lose a little cred with the real fans. Especially when you include a song like Straight From The Heart over those two songs. That song doesn’t hold true to most of their library, I believe it was just an attempt at trying to stay relevant during the nasty days of disco. Seven Turns would be a much better choice than that song…or maybe No One To Run With. Another fairly recent song written by Greg that has a lot of great life reflection is Old Before My Time. But the bottom line is,,,to leave Blue Sky and One Way Out off of an Allman Brothers list to many fans may seem silly and since I noticed your replying to some of the posts, I would love to know your logic.

  17. PDC

    March 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    High Falls – I’d say needs to top any list of ABB musical successes !!!
    Long omitted from any set list.
    So sad not to be able to here it live….

  18. Toby

    March 11, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    The Willie Dixon cover of The Same Thing they used to play in the early 90’s was always nasty.

  19. Jeff

    March 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    You Don’t Love Me
    One Way Out
    Blue Sky
    Dreams

    4 glaring omissions. Certainly don’t see how Straight From the Heart tops ANY of these 3 and you can keep Rambling Man as a Publix commercial.

  20. Rickrocker

    March 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Any list that does not include the Mountain Jam is inconclusive…. I had seen them 66 times through 2014…. and have seen every lineup, including DA… the final one was the best with Derek/Warren…. of course other than Dickey/Duane…. but I have seen some jam nights with them that still give me goosebumps… the 40th anniversary shows with EC were right at the top…. even Eric wanted to make sure it was about DUANE!!! And that he was sitting in with the Allman’s that night!!!

  21. Dan Erickson

    March 11, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Hmm? One way out
    Stormy Monday
    Whipping post
    Sweet Meiissa
    Blue sky
    Ramblin Man
    Statesboro blues… Geez did this dude really listen to the catalogue????

  22. BK

    March 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    You cannot leave off One Way Out and Ain’t Wastin’ Time. You just can’t.

  23. Kathy

    March 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    How can you leave off One Way Out???

  24. Kathy

    March 11, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    And Aint Wastin’ Time ??

  25. Mark

    March 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I love the live at the Fillmore’ What happened to You Don’t Love Me? My Favorite

  26. T Feeney

    March 11, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    I know it’s a Dicky tune, but Blue Sky is in my top ten songs of all time. Rolling down the road to this song is why songs are created.

  27. Dave Priestap

    March 12, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Seriously? A list that doesn’t contain the following:
    You Don’t Love Me
    Blue Sky
    No One To Run With

    Is an incomplete list.

  28. John N.

    March 12, 2015 at 2:22 am

    I have posted to testify to your bad, bad misfortune in leaving out Cross to Bear and I can’t help wondering why>

  29. Rick Andresen

    March 12, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Don’t leave out the 9 minute live version ‘Desdemona’ from 2003’s “Hittin’ The Note’ album. While Greg’s vocals” plead with you”, the hair on the back of my neck stood up as a swear I felt I was back in the Midnight Rider daze.

  30. prof59

    March 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    My top 3: Jessica, Whipping Post, Melissa. Not seeing a lot of love here for their best slow song.

  31. Jeff

    March 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Please call home …… not my cross to bear. Would have to have these on there also.

  32. JJ

    March 12, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I remember the first time I heard the Live at The Fillmore East album…in 1972 or so. I think this is one of The Best live rock albums ever produced, especially given when the concert occurred. I’d just vote the whole album as the best works by The Allman Brothers Band.

  33. RK

    March 12, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I agree with JJ. Also throw in Eat a Peach. I’m old school. They are great but they just
    weren’t the same without Duane.

  34. jim bolen

    March 13, 2015 at 2:24 am

    This group is too damn good to do a top 20. How about a top 50 or 75 or 100? Number 1 in my book is “Back where it all began”. You guys are the best ever.

  35. james leonard

    March 13, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Please Call Home
    Little Martha
    Melissa
    Jessica
    Seven Turns
    Soulshine
    Too many….too much……I’m overloaded.

  36. MIKE

    March 20, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    FAVORITE ALLMAN BROTHERS’ SONGS: I LOVED THEM ALL, MAN!

  37. CW

    March 21, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Interesting Dickey Betts refers to Layla when writing Ramblin Man and Jessica because the first 7 notes of Layla form the foundation of his lead guitar work in both those songs. They are brilliant solos, especially Jessica. Another kudos to Dickey and the band – they very successfully made the transition from guitar/guitar to guitar/piano after Duane’s death. Last, while the Allman Bros are usually described as southern blues rock, the rhythm section had a distinctly jazz sound. The drummers are much under-rated for their outstanding work.

  38. Jud Koss

    April 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Saying that the Allman Brothers “began by echoing the British beat boom and blues heritage” is like writing that without Led Zeppelin, Rock & Roll never would have happened.

  39. John Schroers

    July 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Expand the list to 30 or 40 songs , make a little more room for tunes that true ABB fans expect on a list like this.

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