Latest Allman Brothers lineup brings back memories
Gregg Allman said making the latest Allman Brothers Band CD, "Hittin' The Note," reminded him of being back in the studio with the group's original lineup.
"It really was (similar). It had a lot to do with the vibes," Allman said. "I mean, the songs just went bip-bap, bip-bap. I think it probably took longer to mix it than it did to record it. That's how it was when we did the first part of 'Eat A Peach.'"
For Allman to compare "Hittin' The Note" to "Eat A Peach" -- the 1972 double album that featured studio and live material -- or any of the three other records made by the original lineup is no small statement.
The original lineup -- featuring Allman, his brother, slide guitarist Duane Allman; bassist Berry Oakley; guitarist-singer Dickey Betts and the other two remaining original members of the band, drummers Butch Trucks and Jay Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson -- essentially invented the Southern rock form over the course of their four albums together with their unique fusion of rock and blues, supplemented by touches of jazz and country.
That lineup, of course, was cut down in its prime when Duane Allman and Oakley died in eerily similar motorcycle accidents about a year apart, in October 1971 and November 1972 respectively.
The Allman Brothers Band, though, have survived those tragedies, overcome breakups in the mid 1970s and again in the early 1980s and weathered a number of personnel changes along the way to continue making viable albums, while remaining a forceful and adventurous live act.
"Hittin' The Note" comes after one of the group's most challenging episodes. In 2000, the band fired guitarist Dickey Betts, whose songs formed a major part of the Allman Brothers catalog.
Allman then contacted an old ally, singer/guitarist Warren Haynes, about returning to the group. To Allman, Haynes was the only likely replacement.
Haynes and the late bassist Allen Woody had left the Allman Brothers in 1997, after an eight-year stint in the group, to devote their energies to their own band, Gov't Mule.
But Woody died in 2000, putting Gov't Mule's future into question and opening the door for Haynes -- who this summer also signed on as a member of the Dead and formed a new version of Gov't Mule -- to take on other projects. In 2001, he stepped back into the Allman Brothers Band, whose current lineup also includes guitarist Derek Trucks and the rhythm section of Butch Trucks, "Jaimoe," percussionist Marc Quinones and bassist Oteil Burbridge.
To Allman, Haynes was the only viable replacement, and the guitarist played a key role in pushing the band toward writing and recording "Hittin' The Note."
"It was him or probably nobody," Allman says. "There are only certain kinds of people who are cut out to be an Allman Brother. He's one, that's for sure."
Allman clearly is enthused about the future of the Allman Brothers Band -- noting he already is looking forward to doing another studio record.
"I've played with a lot of other fantastic musicians - a whole bunch of other ones -- and some dead, some living. But there's nothing like playing with the Allman Brothers.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $10 to $28.50.
Where: Post-Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown.
Details: (412) 323-1919.