From the opening bars of ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’, which kicks off Eat A Peach the Allman Brothers set out their stall on with their third studio album. But as fans of the band know Eat A Peach is an album wreathed in sadness, because it was recorded between September and December 1971, and it was on 29 October that 24 year old Duane Allman was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. The album’s opening track was written for his brother by Gregg Allman.
It was originally a double LP and was a record of three distinct elements. There’s the shorter tracks that filled Side One of the first album while sides two of both records featured the half hour live ‘Mountain Jam’ that had to be cut in this way to accommodate its length, as well as two more tracks on side one of the second LP that had been recorded live. The CD version included ‘Mountain Jam’ as one complete track and later deluxe reissues featured additional songs from the 27 June 1971 Fillmore closing night concert.
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In September 1971 the band went to Miami’s Criteria Studios with producer Tom Dowd and at these sessions they cut, Blue Sky’, an instrumental they called, ‘The Road to Calico; that developed into ‘Stand Back, with the addition of vocals and Duane’s gorgeous instrumental, ‘Little Martha’. The band then went back on the road, before four of the band went to rehab to deal with their addiction problems.
Following Duane’s untimely accident the band agreed they must carry on. As drummer, Butch Trucks later said, “[Duane] was the teacher and he gave something to us – his disciples – that we had to play out.” The three tracks included on the album recorded at the December Miami sessions are ‘Melissa,’ ‘Les Brers in A Minor,’ and ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’. Les Brers, as Dickey Betts, the song’s writer later said, it was bad French for “the brothers. ‘Melissa’ was written by Gregg in 1967, one of the first he wrote that he deemed worthy of saving, and it was a song that Duane always loved. Gregg had always felt it wasn’t edgy enough for the Allmans and thought he might record it as a solo record someday, but decided to include it as a tribute to Duane.
The live tracks, including the extended ‘Mountain Jam’ were recorded at the Fillmore East; ‘Mountain Jam and Muddy Waters’s ‘Trouble No More’ in March 1971, while their cover of Elmore James’s ‘One Way Out’ dates from 27 June 1971.
At the time Duane was killed, the band had no title for the album, and when it was finished Atlantic Records suggested it should be called, ‘The Kind We Grow in Dixie’, but this was rejected out of hand. It was Butch Trucks that came up with the title, suggesting they call it, “Eat a Peach for Peace”, a phrase that Duane had once said in response to a question during an interview. “I’m hitting a lick for peace — and every time I’m in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace. But you can’t help the revolution, because there’s just evolution. I understand the need for a lot of changes in the country, but I believe that as soon as everybody can just see a little bit better, and get a little hipper to what’s going on, they’re going to change it.” Georgia is known as “The Peach State.”
Trucks too took inspiration from the album’s artwork that was largely created while Duane was still alive. W David Powell of Wonder Graphics had seen old postcards in an Athens, Georgia drugstore; one of which depicted a peach on a truck and the other a watermelon on a rail car. He bought them and worked up the album’s distinctive cover. Because the album had no name, it is the reason that the artwork was left title-less for its release.
Prior to the album’s release there was much speculation that without Duane the band would implode. To kick start the promotion of the record a live radio broadcast of the band’s New Year’s Eve performance at New Orleans’s Warehouse was arranged. It helped reinforce the idea that the Allman Brothers Band was still alive and well; when the record came out on 12 February 1972 it met with instant success and soon made No.4 on the Billboard album chart.
In the words of Rolling Stones’s Tony Glover “the Allman Brothers are still the best goddamned band in the land … I hope the band keeps playing forever — how many groups can you think of who really make you believe they’re playing for the joy of it?”
‘Melissa’ was the album’s most successful single, making #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’ and ‘One Way Out’ were also released as singles, charting at numbers 77 and 86, respectively. In 1972 the Band played close to a hundred shows to support of the record, mostly as headliners, often with label mates’ Cowboy or Wet Willie as their opening act. As Trucks said, “We were playing for him and that was the way to be closest to him.