Monday, 21 August 2017

Gregg Allman - Southern Blood, album review

Legend's Leaving

The Greg Allman/Scott Sharrad co-written opener My Only True Friend could be the self-epitaph for this posthumous album, these lines appearing to comment on Allman’s impending passing [he was diagnosed with liver cancer],

You and I both know / This river will surely flow to an end / Keep me in your heart / Keep your soul on the mend / I hope you're haunted by the music of my soul / When I'm gone, please don't fly away / And find you a new love / I can't face living this life alone / I can't bear to think that this might be the end

Sharrad has recently explained that for him the lyric was an imagined dialogue from Duane to Greg – Duane the brother who died in 1971 – but the message still resonates, obviously and naturally, as a confessional lament.

The rest of the songs on the album are covers, Greg Allman too ill to write new music for the planned album, and Dylan’s Going Going Gone provides another lyrical self-reflection, and we can conclude a knowing one as Allman selected, along with others, songs that would provide a mirror to a life fully lived,

I been walkin' the road
I been livin' on the edge
Now, I've just got to go
Before I get to the ledge
So I'm going
I'm just going
I'm gone

This song gets a brilliant musical rendition, the dobro and the backing vocals and the horns and the slide guitar and the pedal steel and more all exquisite in its southern orchestration.

There are other truly beautiful covers, of Jeff Buckley’s Once I Was, and of his good friend Jackson Browne’s Song for Adam with JB as guest vocal. This song closes the album so sweetly.

It’s not all maudlin. The blues of Willie Dixon’s I Love the Life I Live is punched out with some stonking sax and Allman able to sing the words with his own genuine conviction. Johnny Johnson’s Blind Bats and Swamp Rats is full of sass.

There is a fine cover of Penn and Oldham’s Out of Left Field where the supporting vocal of Buddy Miller is clearly heard, vocals added across the album after Allman’s death along with other additions from fellow artists to fill the gaps which had been left. Another superb song covered is Lowell George’s Willin’, chosen apparently by the album’s produce Don Was, where the lyric

I’m willin’ to keep movin’

becomes, after Allman’s death, the perfect metaphor for his music’s continued journey reflecting a legendary life.

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