Allman Brothers Band- Idlewild South- the late Gregg Allman

Contrary to what some music writers would have you believe, few are introduced to a band or performer from Note One of a recording career, instead finding an on-ramp at various points in the album release timeline, and then working their way backward. Come on, we all do it. Such was the case for me in Autumn 1970 with discovering the Allman Brothers Band, as it was their second album, Idlewild South, which was my gateway drug to a five decade musical high for what turned out to be, as legendary producer Tom Dowd put it it, “the greatest musical fusion I’ve ever witnessed.”

The Allman Brothers Band was so synonymous with the Southern Rock leading label Capricorn Records and its home base Macon GA that for decades I mistakenly thought singer/ songwriter/ organist Gregg Allman and his older brother, slide guitarist Duane, were from there, and artist manager/ Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden did little to change that appearance. You see, Walden felt that Macon could have been as famous worldwide as Memphis and Elvis Presley if only Macon recording artist Little Richard was white. Walden managed the electrifying performer Otis Redding from Macon, who was poised to crossover from Soul/ R & B to the mass appeal Top 40 mainstream, only to have the soaring singer perish in a plane crash. Now Walden’s ear was hearing something not coming outof London nor San Francisco nor Woodstock, but instead from the mangrove swamps and ‘cane breaks of north Florida and Georgia. While the 1969 debut album was sonically woolly and sequenced liked a live set, leaving their best two songs for last, Idlewild South  corrected both of those problems. Side one’s tunestack of the sparkling “Revival”, followed by Duane’s   slide guitar pyrotechnics on “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ “, Gregg Allman’s classic “Midnight Rider”, and Dickey Betts’ “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” is remarkable listening fifty years later in 5.1 surround sound; “Please Call Home” is an under-appreciated Gregg composition and vocal; and the late Berry Oakley’s rare lead vocal on Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” is a dead ringer for Johnny Winter. The late Gregg Allman tells some wonderful stories in this treasured classic rock interview  of Idlewild South  by the Allman Brothers Band. –Redbeard