Friends in a Jam
In Backbeat Books' newly published Skydog: The Duane Allman Story, author Randy Poe gives a thorough account of Duane's recorded legacy up through his output with the Allman Brothers Band, which amounts to two studio albums and a legendary Fillmore live set. These remain the benchmark by which every subsequent ABB release and show have been measured. That kind of pressure has fractured the group and reassembled it more times than you might imagine. Seeing that Gregg is now the only original band member who hasn't been fired or quit, one wonders why he feels the need to tour solo with "friends." Are the latter-day Allman Brothers just "the guys he knows from work"? Nah, it's that Gregg Allman's solo records have always been more R&B and song-focused than the jazzy, improvisational flights of fancy the ABB has been known to take, and after 36 years, an alternate set list that can omit "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" is probably a sanity-saver more than anything else. Not that any of this matters to Allman's newfound audience young, disaffected jam-band followers happy to hear "Midnight Rider," "I'm No Angel" and "Statesboro Blues" unencumbered by any working knowledge of the Allman Brothers' tragic history. In Poe's book, there's a sobering account of a 2005 Allman Brothers show at the Beacon, their post-millennium Fillmore East. When video clips of departed "friends" were projected on a backdrop behind the band, the flickering images of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley met with an "eerie silence," but "when Jerry Garcia's face was projected on the screen, the place erupted in a loud roar." On the plus side, there'll be no requests from that album Gregg made with Cher.
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