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Episode 33

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band

Six enlightened rogues out of Macon, Georgia birthed an entire genre simply by being their soul-powered selves. We have not come to testify, but we’re still hung up on the dream The Allman Brothers Band helped us see. By the end of this episode, you will be, too.

Transcript

Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Kyle: We’re talking about the self-titled debut from The Allman Brothers Band, released in 1969. 

Cliff: Nice.

Kyle: So couple of things here. One – and it didn’t even occur to me to address this until you said something, just before we started recording – but a lot of people, probably 9 out of 10 fans or people who are aware of the Allman Brothers Band think “jam band”. Like they go in a category now with Widespread and String Cheese and Trae and all of the Sweetwater 420 Fest stuff.

And that galls me a little bit. So, I’m glad that we’re talking about Duane-era Allman Brothers as two dudes from Georgia and refocusing the conversation. Hopefully, doing a little bit of a public service in that way. This is not a “cocaine and dancing in the grass” band, guys. 

Cliff: Yeah. Explicitly pre-cocaine era Allman Brothers. That keeps us in a really safe territory on a number of fronts. 

Kyle: But in addition to quickly addressing what it isn’t, I think, what it is is the most dead center of the Venn diagram between the two of us in terms of our musical roots. In the grand scheme of things, it’s actually a pretty narrow overlap in the things we both really like to this degree, but, to capture everything about like where and how we grew up kind of our musical vocabulary. And the reason that we stayed joined at the hip musically is because of this place, occupied by this one band. And I don’t think anybody else captures it quite as perfectly as they do. But even in spite of that, and all the many times we’ve driven around to umpire baseball or whatever together and had on this record, or some other Allman stuff, I have always taken them for granted. Like I haven’t given much credence to how different they were or are, and it’s only occurred to me in probably the past 10, maybe 15 years, what a thing they were. Like, I was well into my twenties before I learned that they had two drummers, which I feel stupid even saying, but that made everything about listening to them with headphones makes sense. But like six dudes, five long hairs and a black dude in Macon, Georgia in the late sixties and early seventies. And you got two drummers and they’re like jazz and country and acid rock, and most especially blues with Elvis and other like  jambalaya mixed in. It’s some earthshaking shit, man. It’s different. And I think that’s why it holds up. 

Cliff: I don’t think it’s like common knowledge that this literal record was the debut of Southern rock as a genre anyway, created for this combination of things and influences, which I know we’ll talk about.

But for the same reason that I think we, we immediately say “not a jam band”, because we don’t like the caricature of what jam bands became because of how far away they moved from the center. Similarly, this is the center, the epicenter of Southern rock. And so whatever Southern rock became in the decades later is really different than whatever was happening here.

Like this is the place from which Lynyrd Skynyrd even becomes a reasonable thing to have happened in the world. And they even address that really directly. And, but I’m also looking forward to talking about Allman Brothers and also, this season, Dolly Parton, because there are a couple of artists that we can really pull out of our Southern heritage and say, these people were alive during the times where the South was known …

Kyle: Where the south was living up to its bad reputation.

Cliff: Yeah. It became known for being the South for a reason. And in both of these cases, these artists were bucking the trend in really specific ways knowing that they were doing it. But doing so in a way that was always true to themselves, always true to the artistry and always pointed people away from bigotry and racism and towards artistry and community and brothership and brotherhood and sisterhood and whatever else.

It’s hard to imagine, but this isn’t the same as protesting the Vietnam war so much as it was: none of that shit matters, man. You got to quit separating out people like that and come together over a thing. And the Allman Brothers are such a great example of pulling influences from places in society that you wouldn’t have expected a handful of white guys to be pulling things from, especially, Gregg and Duane and just channeling those influences in a way where they weren’t trying to make a statement or be self-important. One definite theme throughout this entire story of this band was that Duane was capable of being a superstar at all points and everyone knew it, including him. And he always chose not to be.

Kyle: Yeah he told Phil Walden, “ain’t no ego trip, man”. Yeah. Listening to you say all that just now makes me think this is the closest to submitting for the Bitter Southerner that we’ll ever get. So we humbly present our Bitter Southerner essay in search of a better South. As exemplified by this group of dudes who lived in a commune in Macon, Georgia, and generally went against the grain, not only in the South, but in the tides of the country in every way. So I think it’s important to start there talking about where the popular culture discourse was and the sounds were at that time. 

So Duane and Gregg, born a year apart in Nashville, moved to Daytona when their dad got killed in a robbery and they spent a lot of time, after going back and forth between Tennessee and Florida, seeing their first concert in Nashville was BB King and Jackie Wilson. Formative experience in 1959.

Cliff: Yeah. That’s going to change you. Yeah. Whatever you were before, it doesn’t matter. You’re different coming out of that.

Kyle: You saw BB King. That’s it. So that just drew them  everywhere the music was and in a uniquely Southern way. So there’s this great Duane focused documentary it’s available on Amazon prime.

It’s called Song of the South, which is an unfortunate name, but it is what it is. Yeah. Googling it sucks. Cause most of it is just “what’s up with that racist Disney thing”. 

Cliff: Don’t worry. They solved it. Kyle, they put up a disclaimer now, before you play it on the TV. Don’t worry. What you’re about to see is racist. But since you know it is, it isn’t! 

Kyle: They just went ahead and did the “this tweet not age well “. 

Cliff: I’m sub-tweeting my future self. 

Kyle: So one of the points made really early in that documentary is about the different ways that people quote unquote got along in the North versus the South. In the North, people were ostensibly more tolerant and there was a certain degree of economic cooperation, but people kept to themselves.

They, they kept to their own kind, so to speak. And in the South, Atlanta got that reputation as being too busy to hate, but generally there was more day to day interaction. So by mere exposure effect, Duane and Gregg get. To hear all this black music around them, in the churches, in places around town.

And specifically from WLAC this radio station, it was 50,000 Watts. And it broadcasts, I think they said like Chicago to Jamaica, which is crazy, like basically streaming radio for that time. But it had a nighttime R&B program. And so they were getting here. Muddy waters and all of these incredible blues and R&B artists, and they were spending time in their own hometown on the so-called wrong side of the tracks, learning from guys, listening to records, they played going and buying records that were getting imported to only that side of town, because even the music distribution was segregated at that time. 

Cliff: They really impressed in that documentary that it was just as strange. This was said several times. It was just as strange for there to be a couple of brothers who are long blonde haired, hippies as it would have been for them to be hanging out with black people as it would have been to be black in that situation and with all the caveats that should come from “and that was the white guys’ telling of the story”. At the same time, like it’s, it’s it’s an interesting thing to draw out because you have to peel back some of the otherwise well-deserved stereotypes of the South to really see how the Allman Brothers grew up and became the people that they became and how it would have even been possible for them to be creating a racially integrative band without purposefully making a statement by doing so that it just came naturally to them. And so it takes a little bit of, it’s almost like suspension of disbelief to hear the story of the Allman Brothers and try to just take it on good faith that it did seem like they had positive intentions and treated human beings equally across the board, even in a entire geographic area that didn’t on the whole.

Kyle: Yeah. The front against long hairs is so interesting to me. Especially as we both grew our hair out at one point, but it’s it’s a small but simple act of rebellion. When you grow up in a small town that expects everybody to get along and go along. 

Cliff: I was told, I look like a lady hundreds of times. “You look cute with that hair cut”. 

Kyle: And that was like the number one thing people went to when we calling ball and, and they didn’t like the calls that you were making, it always, this went back to the appearance. 

Cliff: That’s the Aughts. You look like a female, ha!

Kyle: Right? Yeah, the early Aughts have already not aged well. Which is good. It’s heartening. 

Cliff: I’m going to walk to my therapist now I’ll be back in a few minutes. Go ahead. 

Kyle: But it’s really interesting, right? So ’65 to ’68, where they’re coming of age as musicians, Southern stuff is not in fashion, right? So you have the rise of the civil rights movement. You have the onset of the Vietnam war. You have folk music and a Greenwich village, kind of New York dominance around the cultural conversation. 

There’s a lot in that reminds me of this moment, exactly right. That you have the woke stuff that has carved out a place and is really popular. Any of these counter-cultural figures like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, making these grand political statements and politicizing their art and being recognized by the youth for it and embraced.

But then you also had the like distraction pop. You had surf music, The Ventures and all that. And when they were playing on the local scene in Florida in beach towns, obviously the temptation is to like, you’re playing at the Y, you just want the kids to have a good time on a Friday night. That’s where they got pushed at first, but they always had this thing, they always had this swing to ’em and the R&B undertones. And from a very young age, from a startlingly young age, Gregg Allman was like a known blues singer. And he had a voice beyond his years. 

Cliff: My favorite anecdote from the surf rock overlap of the time- and to give you an idea of the Allman Brothers. So in April of 1965, they were playing in a band called The Escorts. They opened up for The Beach Boys. So fun fact one. Okay. Take 10 seconds. Everyone listening and think of a Beach Boys song. So you got that, got that feel in your head. 

Yeah, just dudes with good posture being very excited to sing. But just get that feel for a second… 

Kyle: quaffed.  

Cliff: And now expand that out in your brain a little bit. Think of some of the like fifties and sixties videos you’ve seen of just like kids dancing to surf rock and just get a good feel of that vibe. Now, The Escorts opened up and played Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, James Brown. It’s like walking into a classical music hall. And playing jazz instead. Yeah. So not only were they specifically and purposefully different knowing that their context didn’t fit and choosing to do that anyway.

But the other fun thing, which reminds me that music is dreadfully boring nowadays compared to some of the creative things that used to happen. The other opening band. Before the Beach Boys, the way that the openers worked, each band stayed on stage the whole time, played one song each and went back and forth.

Then the opening bands did an encore where they covered the same song at the same time and traded versus during the song beforehand, like that’s stuff that never happens anymore. 

Kyle: Pushed back on you on that a little, like I could totally see King Gizzard doing that somewhere and just the fact that I’ve now linked King Gizzard and the Allman Brothers and my mind a little bit, which is something that I should’ve done all along.

Another two drummer band, prolific, play all the time. Strictly about the music. Absolutely wild dudes. They actually have a lot in common. It’s like Australia 

Cliff: I .

I can see you thinking about it.

Kyle: Australian Allman Brothers. Wow. 

Cliff: The entire room does feel like fuzz at a King gizzard show, so I guess I get it.

Kyle: Dude. Yeah. It’s it’s super far out.

Cliff: I don’t know. It just, it, it really, it really settled me to think about two opening bands, including the Allman Brothers playing Ray Charles’s “What I Say” back and forth on stage before a Beach Boys show like that just really centered me to think about their path. 

Kyle: Especially with the purposefulness of – the people in this room in Daytona, Florida, probably haven’t heard the song, maybe they did, but probably, probably not. And so just bringing it to the masses in a, not Elvis-y, making a ton of money off of it way. To be clear, that was a thing that had happened 10 years ago was the whole cultural appropriation around Sun Records and the two sides of town in Memphis. But this was a different thing entirely. 

Cliff: And that’s really the thesis is that it was a different thing entirely, than any of that Memphis rockabilly or anything else that kind of came before it. And I just really love like before we move on to probably the meat of a lot of things like this is why sharing music with people is important, especially foundational stages in their life.

Like this whole story comes from WLAC and that late night show that you mentioned and people being willing to share music that wasn’t otherwise accessible to an entire, at that point, like an entire geographic town. So a whole part of the country gets to hear things that they wouldn’t have heard unless there was this radio show with these guys running it who chose specifically to funnel through music that wasn’t otherwise being surfaced on that same radio station, much less than the culture at large.

And so to me, it’s, it’s hard to impress the importance of just those decisions to share the things that give us joy and that people might not otherwise be exposed to just giving people an opportunity to listen and hear something new and experience it differently. Duane Allman was a changed human being because of the stuff that he heard on the radio and became the person that we would continue to talk about all the way through this record.

Kyle: Yeah. I think when you think about things like the social component around streaming services and algorithms, that’s the entire thesis of the stuff that we’ve done in the music industry. That eventually morphed into this podcast is betting on human connection and curation. Like nothing’s going to have a higher success rate.

And certainly nothing’s going to get you out of your own bubble of things than somebody being like, are you sure you don’t like Slayer? 

Cliff: Yeah. I feel like we’re pulling back the curtain on this whole podcast. Just a little too much yeah. We get you in here on an episode from a band that you like. But our real trick is to get you to listen to one you don’t.

Kyle: Oh, you like Bjork here’s Death Grips you like Dolly Parton, here’s the Melvins. 

Cliff: For fans of being scared. 

Kyle: But do you mean yeah. That curiosity and that connection to something bigger, bigger than yourself? I think spiritually, that’s probably a large part of the reason we feel such a connection to the Allmans is these guys are huge music fans.

And I just, I keep envisioning the six of them as like a six pointed star. And they’re holding like wrestling ring ropes. Back behind them and they’re holding the tension and like there’s a centrifical force in the middle that if any one of them pulls out, the sound that they’re making changes too drastically in the center.

And you’d find that after Duane died and then Barry Oakley died and things changed, the, the pole changed in different directions. They became a totally different band. But for this period of about two years, they’re holding the center and doing this really interesting thing. With the blues in a totally different way than a Hendrix, or a Zeppelin or any of, kind of their contemporaries around this time.

Cliff: And that’s literal, like from a musical perspective, two drummers and two lead guitarists were both strange concepts in and of themselves, but the fact that it was never one is the lead and the other is the backup that accompanies it, was what produced, first of all, the, the incredible guitar work that’s on this record, but just, yeah, just to double down on that idea, you’re talking about Duane Allman is setting up this tension on purpose.

Because it’s not an ego trip, man. Yeah. Yeah. 

Kyle: Two drummers because of James Brown, which is in and of itself awesome. Knowing that that’s an idea that could work and be interesting. Two guitarists, like you said, trading leads. And I, I think there was a really interesting thing Gregg said that Duane was all about two lead guitars. He loved players like Curtis Mayfield, and he wanted the bass, keyboards, and second guitar to form patterns behind the solo, rather than just comping. And he loved jazz guitarists, like Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow and Kenny Burrell. But he didn’t, like Jaimoe said that he didn’t like Jimmy Page or Sonny Sharrock. I think it’s really interesting that hecaled that out specifically: the guy from the Yardbirds, I don’t want to do that.

Cliff: And even that’s a fun contrast. Led Zeppelin was four great individuals like pulling each other forcefully in a massive direction. And it just happened to work out and certainly there’s interplay.

We talked on our Led Zeppelin episode about rhythm sections, between JPJ and John Bonham and yes, there’s interaction. But it’s pure, like almost individual star power, collective energy pulling in a direction. And the Allman Brothers is just I want there to be a stasis, I want to set up oppositional forces so that we can nail this blues, this whole idea. You can just hear it over and over through the different iterations of their bands. Like even the Allman Joys cover band, where they did a cover of My Girl, cause they were doing a bunch of songs or a bunch of covers anyway. And like you can even just hear them, trying to figure out how to settle into something together and be able to replicate it. And they never could quite do it until we get to this debut record anyway. 

Kyle: Yeah. The Zeppelin contrast is interesting. If you’re thinking of it in sports terms, whereas Led Zeppelin to your point is like pulling as far away from each other as they possibly can at all times and like trying to get individual shine, they are like the LeBron, D Wade, Miami Heat, where it’s just the star show. And Page assembled the band with that in mind. This is more like the San Antonio Spurs, where it’s all about the system. It’s all about the chemistry and no one person out shines the other and they all become stars as a result of the system.

Now, arguably you have an all-time hall of famer. Like the Tim Duncan of this crew is, is Duane, but always in service of the system. The song of the jam of pushing each other to new heights and exploring uncharted territory and just like chasing that spark, always chasing the joy. There’s such a purity to all of it the whole time, and it’s never more pure than this little moment right here.

And Jaimoe just did a long interview with the New York Times where he talked about that was as good as it ever got spiritually for me. And I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. 

So talk about the immediate lead up to this record a little bit, because I think there are some musical touchpoints for where some of these like major sonic things come in.

Cliff: Well, to me, one of the more interesting lead up points or the kind of time that I would count as the lead up to this record. So we mentioned the the Duane Allman Song of the South” documentary at the beginning. It’s really good for getting the long and drawn out story that kind of leads up to this explosion of the Allman Brothers. To me, the places where it starts to get most fascinating.

So go past some of the, some of the stories we’ve already told of opening up for surf rock bands and getting the inspiration from R&B. There’s this time starting in about 1967 to me, where they choose what not to be catapults them into what they would become. know, As we mentioned, like in the band at the time, The Hourglass that they were in, so they get a record deal, they move to LA and it’s straight summer of love.

So some Southern boys, right from middle of nowhere, essentially are now out in California experiencing a ton of stuff that no one in the South has experience and get. All right. And so. 

Kyle: Acid hippies and freaks 

Cliff: And extremely long, or at least concentrated story short, right? Their first show is opening for The Doors. They’re playing for The Dead. And in fact, not only are they playing for the Grateful Dead at a time before the Grateful Dead became the Grateful Dead that I really hate.   But they’re opening up for this band and they’re in situations where they’re getting cheered and The Dead is getting booed off the stage. I think it would almost be unfair in retrospect, to talk about them showing up the bands they were playing with. It was just clear that this, that was not their category. 

Kyle: Another thing that was interesting about that time in live music is people seem to show up just for the bill and like the Apollo, whoever performed that night, got the adulation. They talked a lot about, there’s a Duane interview from 1970 where he talks about sometimes we’ll play an hour and a half if we never really get it cooking.

And, and sometimes we’ll play three hours. It just depends on riding the wave of the feedback that we get from the audience and that there was such an open-endedness to it in that time was really interesting. I think it shows you how still wild and free the live music experience was as that was being formulated at some of these venues across the country. 

Cliff: So fast forward. A year, basically, maybe even a little bit less. 

Kyle: That’s the insane part of all of this, right? It was like once we started stacking at the dates, you realize how little time is in there. Duane died when he was 24 years old. So I think it’s important to note like we did with Otis Redding who we’ll come back to in a second, the density of his musicality. Like he had to be cranking stuff out every day, essentially to have to leave this kind of a musical legacy behind he had to live and breathe it. 

Cliff: And so I think at that point, it seems like he’s playing his way towards what he really wants to do, Duane, especially. And so I think we have, we have the rare opportunity to give milestones in a musical story that are in fact, just songs that really help show like, oh, Duane’s stepping stones towards this album ended up being some really big rocks. 

So first of all, you hear a BB King medley that gets recorded and you can hear the energy shift in a recording like that from the types of things that they were recording to try to fulfill record contracts.

Kyle: And also they were so burned out on the situation in LA and the hassle that they were getting to try to be something that they weren’t, that they went back to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals to go back to their roots and figure out how to be themselves. And so that really comes through on that BB King medley, which just absolutely cooks.

Cliff: Muscle Shoals is in Alabama for anyone who’s unfamiliar. 

Kyle: That has a documentary of the same name, 

Cliff: Also worth seeing.

Kyle: Also very much worth seeing. 

Cliff: So, yeah. So they’re back in the right context. You see the BB King medley and to me, that’s one of the first really clear “Oh, Duane was not meant for any of these things”. right. Duane was meant for something else. He understands this on a level that other people don’t, and you can really start to draw that out. And then the place where we can still hear it now, but I think everyone else picked up on it is him playing on Wilson Pickett’s “Hey Jude” cover, which, there’s a really interesting like meta thread throughout all of these covers here where  somehow they were really unafraid to do covers of songs that were still popular in their original form 

Kyle: “Hey Jude” was on the charts when he suggested it. And I love the story of how that came to pass. He was the hired gun in the studio, but he had a reputation as being a hot hand, right? Like people knew and recognized that he was good and the work was starting to pick up. So this Wilson Pickett session was a little bit of a turning point and they stayed back during a lunch break.

Everybody else went out to a diner, but the long hair and the black guy didn’t go out because they didn’t want to get hassled. So they had this opportunity to sit and fellowship a little bit. And Duane suggested, Oh, Hey man, why don’t you. Why don’t you try it “Hey Jude”. And initially obviously Pickett was hesitant.

Cliff: All of those words of bad ideas, Duane Allman.

Kyle: Come on, man. In addition to the fact that you look like a hound dog, which hurts your sales pitch that’s a crazy idea. And “Hey Jude” has this big build at the end, right? Which Duane obviously saw lent itself to a cathartic artists like Wilson Pickett, but the Muscle Shoals approach was if you have a big crescendo, a big solo moment, that goes to the horns. Typically it’s a sax solo, right? So Duane comes in and plays this insane overdriven slide guitar on a soul song and immediately cut through the noise culturally, because here’s this thing that has a lot of familiarity on lots of different levels, but yet it has a thing you have clearly never heard before. Right? That’s the total back to the future moment where it’s like, y’all may not be ready for this yet, but your kids are going to love it. People were ready for it though, because it’s sold a million copies, like immediately. 

Cliff: I missed my opportunity to tell the story as Duane suggested they record “Hey Jude” and Wilson Pickett said nah nah nah nah. 

So at this point, at this point, Duane is so desired that he essentially gets signed to a record deal and told to just put together whatever he wants.

Kyle: Sick.

Cliff: As a guitarist, which is certainly not common now, but also not then to just sign up a dude who can play guitar really well. In fact, and on top of that, somebody who is so good that he had been encouraged over and over to sing, and you can hear him trying to sing in these previous bands and it’s just not what he wanted to do.

Kyle: That’s right.

Cliff: And so someone was still .Not just someone, help me out with how it ended up with Phil, because he, it wasn’t Phil who’s who immediately signed him. 

Kyle: Yeah, that’s right. The people at Fame Studios kinda in touch with Jerry Wexler, from Atlantic and played it over the phone. It’s your cousin, Marvin Berry, sorry. The back to the future stuff. All works here. But Jerry Wexler was like, yes, I want in on that, he bought out Duane’s contract immediately. And then Phil Walden, who had been managing Otis Redding up until his death in ’67 was starting a new label. That was a subsidiary imprint of Atlantic. Otis Redding had been on Atlantic.

Phil Walden also from Macon, Georgia, like Otis was going to start the label and base it in his hometown of Macon. And that label was called Capricorn and he bought out the, the rights to Duane, if you will, from Jerry Wexler. So immediately, in addition to all the session work that he’s cut with with Wilson Pickett and with a Aretha Franklin and with King Curtis and all these other people, his pedigree has now been amplified. Because two of the biggest names in soul music in Jerry Wexler and Phil Walden have taken a shine to this kid. 

Cliff: So that’s happening. And meanwhile, let’s overlay it with another important milestone in history. The other moment in history to overlay, which to me, this is my biggest takeaway as someone who’s already an Allman Brothers fan, one of the things I had not focused on was we only got a Duane Allman who had been playing guitar for a few years who would become known as one of the best slide guitar players ever to this day. 

Kyle: Who like popularized the style. 

Cliff: And he had only learned it a couple of years go. So there’s some clearly exaggerated, if not mildly exaggerated version of the story of how Duane starts playing guitar. 

Kyle: To hear Gregg tell it, like he got a bottle of Coricidin pills when he fell off a horse and a day later, he had used a and now he was this amazing virtuoso slide player. But again, in that documentary, the other people he played with when they were out in LA and The Hourglass contradict that a little, it took a little more time, but alas, not that much time at all in the grand scheme of things. Yeah. Yeah. 

Cliff: But that mythology in some way actually happened. It’s some version of that story.

And then, for everyone who has seen someone play slide guitar. Like most many of the slides, I don’t know about most anymore. I haven’t surveyed people lately, but you see a couple of different types of slides. And one of them is like essentially just a around piece of glass that fits around your ring finger.

And that’s, that’s just like a modern capitalistic version of a broken bottle of a glass bottle. Yeah. And that came from Duane, like Duane popularized the entire idea of a glass ring finger slide to play guitar with. And that was all inspired after again, all leading up in the mythology, but it’s, it’s fine enough to tell as is like Gregg gives Duane the album of Taj Mahal self-titled debut, which we should do a lot of “you should also listen to this record” type asides here, Taj Mahal self-titled is an awesome one for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s incredible on its face. Second, because I think it gives a really interesting bit of production contrast with how the Allman Brothers ended up being recorded, how the different mixes and masters ended up of this debut record, because a lot of what you hear from the actual sound of the Allman Brothers debut is a really thick and chunky sound that you definitely don’t hear on Taj Mahal. Yeah. And in a lot of those blues recordings from the sixties, it’s real, everything is really thin in an effort I think to allow like a very mid range or treble-y guitar to stand out.

And so they thin everything out. Whereas again, everything kind of revolves around this idea of the Allman Brothers trying to do a singular thing together. And so that sound changed because yeah, Duane doesn’t need to stand out. Which of course leads to him naturally standing out. He’s a standout on every track, but that’s just like a great musical aside to go down.

So Gregg gives Duane the Taj Mahal self-titled. On it is “Statesboro Blues”, which was a Blind Willie McTell song to begin with. But then Taj Mahal does this version of it and he plays slide guitar. 

Kyle: Blind Willie McTell is from Atlanta. Important to be noted. 

Cliff: And that’s back in the late twenties when he recorded it. So Blind Willie McTell, “Statesboro Blues”, Taj Mahal covers it. Duane hears it, and essentially extends that guitar playing into an entirely new style of guitar playing. Based, purely on his curiosity, after hearing a record that his brother gave him for his birthday, like this, there’s a really special relationship between brothers, especially up to this point in that it’s another reason why it’s a fruitful and worthwhile effort to hear a lot of the backstory, because it’s really genuine.

And it also helps you, I think, to, and not to be overly dramatic, but it helps you to feel a little bit of what the loss of Duane would have been for Gregg when that did eventually happen. 

Kyle: Yeah. I didn’t think until you just said that about the, the nature of the impact of Jesse Ed Davis, Taj Mahal’s guitar player on taking one kind of core idea from another person and making it your whole thing.

So in a way, Jesse Ed Davis was like, for Duane, what Chuck Berry was for The Stones. Just  here is how I learned the whole language, like when kids learn from their parents and that’s how they get an accent of a certain kind. It’s exactly like that. But they also saw him at the Troubadour when they were out in LA.

So he got to see Jesse Ed Davis up close and observe the style. And was wrapped with that. And then The Hourglass when they were in LA started covering Statesboro Blues, and that just became a fixture for every iteration of what Duane was involved in from that point forward. 

Cliff: So many of these moments are worth drawing out because it really helps connect the musical lineage of things like this is the walk back from Freebird. Freebird is a extremely well-known. Slide guitar song, all those, like all those stupid bird noises, right? That’s all slide guitar. That’s all technique. But even like the main riff at the beginning, all that stuff like heavy slide guitar Lynyrd Skynard was directly and specifically influenced by Duane Allman.

Kyle: Most times when they played it live, Ronnie would say play it pretty for Duane.

Cliff: Exactly. 

Kyle: That was my introduction to the Allman Brothers. So I listened to both bands. That was my both kinds of music in my household was Skynyrd and the Allmans. But I didn’t make the connection. I also thought they were peers because I listened to them simultaneously as a kid.

And again, didn’t learn until I was older that like The Allman Brothers proceeded everyone by a lot. And I was a little salty about that for a while. Cause I was always more drawn to Skynyrd, a little bit of a harder edge on that stuff, but they idolized the Allmans and specifically Duane. 

Cliff: Those are the moments to me that make music so worthy of awe still because even if it felt like I was forcing a point earlier about WLAC like, here’s another moment where sharing music changed history in a literal way, right? 

Kyle: In a good way. 

Cliff: Yeah. Freebird exists as a song because they were inspired by Duane Allman who heard it as a song because his brother, Gregg gave him a record, which Gregg probably learned about through, through being exposed to that type of music at all.

But like then you’re just hearing the blues be passed along and pass along exactly in the way that the blues forefathers would have wanted it to be passed along. 

Kyle: That’s right. 

Cliff: Regardless of, whether they would have known or approved of the end result, like that just, that leaves me in those moments where I can just sit and love music and its purity on its own, like books and like art in anything else.

Like the mere act of sharing it changes the trajectory of people’s lives sometimes. And you just never know until you do it. 

Kyle: And speaking to the purity. I think the thing that probably surprised me the most as we were doing our homework, again, this is this familiar record to us as we could possibly cover.

But the main thing that blew me away was the timeline. So I want to run through really quickly the timeline of how we, okay. We have this group of six people in place and then this record comes out. So Duane, gets the edict from Phil Walden to quote unquote, start a power trio in the style of Cream or Jimmy Hendrix.

Cliff: This next part.

Kyle: And he was like, no, man, ain’t going to do that. So he doubles it like, no, no, no, I don’t want three people. I want six people and I need a hundred thousand dollars in 1960s money for gear. 

Cliff: We gonna call it a Heavy Whipping Cream. You’re welcome. That’s free. 

Kyle: So he gets Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley from a Jacksonville band called The Second Coming. He was down in Jacksonville doing session work. Dickey Betts, not to be sneezed at, in the conversation compared to Duane. Absolutely 100% made Duane what he was as a guitarist, complemented him in a great way. And the core of this band is two equals on the guitar, which again was an unprecedented thing.

And Barry Oakley, a very tasteful tuneful melodic bass player, very much in the like Stax soul, but also great kind of country flavor. And there are some great tone moments for him on this record as well. Then from his session travels, he gets Jai “Jaimoe” Johanson. Jaimoe’s his nickname and Butch Trucks, two drummers. Jaimoe toured not only with Percy Sledge, but also with Otis Redding in 1966.

He’s got the pedigree. Lot of the jazz influence comes from Jaimoe. He introduces Coltrane to the group. And that is pivotal, especially as more time goes on and they get into records two, three, four. So March 20th, 1969, they have this first jam with the five people, but it’s instrumental, and somewhat infamously at the it’s some inflection point in this jam.

Duane went to the door and said, if anyone wants to leave this room, they’re going to have to fight their way out. Cause they all knew what they had. 

Cliff: Like it’s such a good, southern boy, energy moment. Like we rarely get to look back on history and just point at somebody and be like, as, as a good old boy right there doing the Southern thing.

This is it. Literally like I can tell that’s not mythology. I know he’s sitting in front of that door and meant it. 

Kyle: Oh yeah. Man, we got a good thing going. Anybody tries to mess it up. I’m gonna whoop your ass right here. And now I’ll give you a ride back to your momma’s house. 

Cliff: Tell me I won’t do it. 

Kyle: Bet I won’t, bet I won’t.

So that’s March 20th, six days later after getting called up by Duane and convinced to come back from LA and just kind of like break the remainder of his LA contract, Gregg joins in, because they knew the missing piece was a really killer singer. They had Reese Wynans jamming with them for a little while.

He was a keyboard player also from the area. But Gregg was a killer keyboard and organ player. And so when Gregg joins the equation, Reese is kind of out of the picture, but I love this because this is my birthday on March 26, 1969. Gregg said I walked into the rehearsal March 26, 1969. They played me the track.

They’d worked up to Muddy Waters “Trouble No More”, and it blew me away. It was so intense and the anecdote goes further. He talked about there’s no way I’m up to the task of singing on this song. And Duane wrote out the lyrics for him and Gregg allegedly hadn’t heard it like Otis Redding, doing “Satisfaction” and just ripped through it at its own cadence.

Greg is a blues singer cannot be understated enough, like really, really powerful force. And I’d encourage you to listen to his voice, listen loud. And spend one of the iterations where you’re going through focus just on Gregg’s voice, because as a 23 or whatever year old kid to have this depth and this amount of pain and grit and gravel in his voice and his temper and his delivery is like, it’s insane. The dude has an insane voice. One of the best singers, I think in the history of rock and roll. 

So that’s a six day span and then four days later they have their first gig at the Jacksonville Armory, 10 day span. They jam, they have their first gig.

And this is, I love this. They thought about calling themselves Beelzebub was just like a. Name that they threw out. Cause this is a beast of a thing. I don’t know. There’s no explanation for why that was the name that they landed on, but they mostly didn’t even go by a name early on. Like they didn’t give a shit about the marketing of this thing.

It was just about the dudes and the jam. They were referred to locally as like “the band’s playing tonight” or “hey, the boys are playing down at the discotheque” or whatever. 

Cliff: Dang ol’ hippies man.

Kyle: Hey the long hairs, them boys all gonna be on down there. So that’s and a span in March. And then May 1st they relocate to Macon the headquarters of Capricorn Records under Phil Walden.

They’re the first band signed to Capricorn. They lived in a communal apartment and their manager twigs Leiden’s name. Three Oh nine college street. And this was before the big house. If you don’t know about the big house, the Allman brothers museum, the communal house, where they eventually lived, encourage you to read up on it.

And they lived off the kindness of a woman. They called mama Louise, Louise Hudson from H and H soul food would give them free plates. And then there’s great stories around how they would. Go back and pay her when they got money from tour. I said a really cool, like supporting local artists barter economy.

In that regard, they spend a lot of time at Rose Hill cemetery, just like being stoned on weed and wine and shrooms and playing acoustic guitar and coming up with ideas and talking the song and memory of Elizabeth Reed was based on a headstone. That they saw at Rose Hill cemetery. So place-based, can’t be understated enough.

Can’t be overstated as an integral part of their thing. So when we talk about the South, it’s not just bias or an implicit pride from of where we’re from. There is a component of that, certainly, but the place, the regional conditions certainly contributed. Heavily to who they were. So May 1st, they relocate to Macon May 2nd.

They have their first making gig at the disco tech and they spent the summer driving back and forth places, but mostly to Atlanta and played free shows that Piedmont park and the first one that they played, they just set up on the stairs, totally rogue style, like a generator party, and Colonel Bruce Hampton, who was like a jam band, weird rock and roll figure.

Especially here locally in Atlanta, like a little bit of a like counterculture icon. He said to me, those Piedmont park shows were as good as I ever got. And they were on fire. The intent and the essence were there. It was just pure as hail. You could feel the purity and the fire and the intensity, nobody was playing checkers or talking business.

This was music for music sake, the chemistry of putting all those guys together, took them to a different level. So that takes us through the summer in 69 and then August 3rd to August 12th, they have time slated at Atlantic studios up in New York city, trying to record with the legendary Tom Dowd, who we talked about on the Otis Redding episode as well.

So trying to live in that lineage wound up getting the house engineer, Adrian barber to record it. And  Jaimoe said. We played them songs hard from may to August. And we walked into the studio, having them down cold. They booked us for two weeks and that was just supposed to be laying down basic tracks with overdubs.

Come in later, we went out on Sunday night to get sounds went back Monday night and start cutting. It came out Thursday with the whole thing, done overdubs and all we went in there, played our asses off, and that was it. We were done in four days and they spent the rest of the time mixing nine days in total.

And then November 4th, 1969, the record is released and they keep. Keep 

on the road to no immediate fanfare, 

thus right. Sold 35,000 copies or something 

abysmal. It’s funny. Yeah, abysmal related to what they would end up being clearly capable of doing. That’s fine. It’s always funny to go back and be like the.

They be record, was pretty much flat. Ooh. Okay. Top 50 bands in the country for a little while. But not to the level that I think the people who believed in the Allman Brothers understood that they could be capable including 

themselves, especially themselves. Totally. 

I also think one thing that really stood out to me too, about this specific moment.

So we’ve touched on this a little bit and I think it draws out something. That’s a little scary to draw out. We’ve talked about them being the hippies as it is. And there was apparently a pretty good natured fascination with their general presence in Macon. Like again, just to reiterate, no one looked like that in Macon, Georgia, the reason they could be known as the band or the boys is because people understood, they were implied, the hippies, like the only guys with long blonde hair walking around and  multi-racial group of people who seem to be getting along, like all of those things in and of themselves set them apart.

And I think that one thing that’s interesting here that we wrestle with being from the South in 2020 is. It’s important to remember that many people who would have been fans of the Allman Brothers at this time, because of the details I just said would have seen themselves as being explicitly anti-racist in this environment, that this would have actually been a collection of people who, because of how the Allman Brothers were not only clearly in a multi-racial band, but.

Also seems to be backed up pretty consistently from all sides that they, they never spoke negatively about other people and other races, like this was a consistent thing and was apparently really well-known. And so I think it’s an interesting thing to remember that the Genesis of Southern rock, which we’re more or less saying is starting right here and right now, would have been accompanied by a number of people who were living in places like Macon, Georgia in the deep South, who would have at that point been counter-cultural enough just by identifying themselves as fans of the band. And so I think 

literally progressive rock. Yeah. 

Cliff: Yeah. And Southern history deserves its reputation.

But it’s also important to remember that when you encounter, especially some of the older folks who don’t really think of themselves as anything, less than very progressive, that there are these pockets in society where they. They could have been a part of something like this culturally, and for all they knew we’re doing the revolutionary thing.

They were in fact against the grain of what the South was doing or how it was perpetuating its own terribleness. And I just connecting that possibility for some people with that through-line of an Allman for others, therefore created Southern rock, which was there for, built on and then became.

The genre of music that would, in some ways glorify things like the rebel flag, right? What kind of logically and culturally walking through those moments, it doesn’t excuse the pain that comes from glorifying a symbol. It’s not okay. It hurts people. And as we’ll talk about in the darling partner episode, there are totally reasonable ways to respond to people who say, this is offensive to me and you can do it, but.

It can give you a little bit of context for why some people could be confused about these symbols don’t mean that to me. And so I think it gave me in this scenario, especially as somebody who really, I, I feel as a person, I want to help drag the South kicking and screaming more and more out of it.

Historical perspectives and more into something that unifies a country and a world together. But this gave me pause. Like that moment of connection helped me remember why it might be genuinely tough for some people to accept that they still need to do more. Does that make sense? Yeah, 

Kyle: it, it touches on an idea that you and I were talking about over the past couple of weeks, it stumbled on.

It dawned on us at some point, how much the narrative of the Allman brothers relates to the narrative around outcast. And we’re using that phrase. The South always had something to say, and, I think for all the ways outcast reflecting the possibilities of the black Mecca of Atlanta and extending the civil rights conversation by putting Atlanta as cultural influence on full display.

You have a similar thing happening here, right? Like the racial integration stories, the stories of possibility and hope that we’ve told, have all been Southern stories. We talked about Booker T and the mgs. We talked about Otis Redding. We’ve now talked about this group. We we’ve talked about Donald Glover and how he’s transcendent culturally and done it by being explicitly blacker all the time.

Again, I know we have this bias lens, but I think because of the unique conditions of what happened here historically, and the way that we have to rectify that still and heal as a country, the South is still the Petri dish. To figure out, all right, we broke it real bad, but this should be the lab where we figure out how to fix it.

And Oh, by the way, we’ve had these luminaries all along who have shown us the path forward, to a better South, to a beloved community, to a more perfect unit. And it’s just so perfectly exemplified. Here by this group of six. 

Yeah. And you even see that play out in a simple way with any interviews where Duane was talking about his own genre of guitar playing, he referred to himself and others as white blues guitar players, it was always prefaced with white.

And in blues was there for, by default coming from the black community and like that sort of respect and again, he never seems to be making a statement, trying to overdo anything. Like he just has that level of respect for other people. And so it’s, I felt it was worth sitting and touching on that because this is a complex.

Time, a complex culture, a complex geographic area, all sorts of things. And because of where Southern rock and Southern culture ended up, it might be sometimes a little scary to look back on moments like this and say, I love that record. But I felt like it was worth drawing out those details so that we can say, yeah, there are times you need to be sensitive and aware of how things are affecting other people and not everything was perfect here, but there was a lot of positivity, a lot of unification and a lot of good intention that was here inside of this group of, of literal brothers.

Like the Allman Brothers were not just. A literal reference to Gregg and Duane, it was about the feeling of the band. He was brotherhood. 

Yes. I think that’s one of the things that heartens me the most about young people these days. And I don’t really count myself in that category anymore. We went and saw the free nationals Andersen PAX ban, and the diversity on stage was one thing, but the diversity of the audience too, and the diversity of sounds that they were bringing like, That sort of melding that’s come from the flattening of sounds and genres because of the internet and the exposure to worlds outside of your own has been amazing.

And I think now that we’ve had 10 years or so of the social internet, we’re starting to see the yield of that. We’re starting to see the fruit of that experiment. And I have a lot of heart that like, while the Allman brothers. Thing was such an anomaly in it. It seems like it’s so worth harping on to really deeply understand and it’s time and place.

It’s I want to give young people their due that this is just normal for them. It’s such a normal part of youth culture. Now that blending and what do you mean 

being a decent human being is societaly acceptable again. 

Why wasn’t that always the bar was stupid boomers. 

Cliff: Thank you for indulging me there.

The Allman Brothers is so deep as you and I have talked about. And so to me, this was, this is one of those places where it’s really worth, even if I’m overdoing it, just trying to sit and be sincere about having done the work, to look into the origins of this music, these people, and where this comes from.

And that’s why it’s still to this day worth. Enjoying it a reveling in the energy that came out of this group. 

Kyle: Here’s the thing. Here’s why it’s warranted. Because when you listen to this record, the blues power is undeniable, right? The feel, the amount of feel on this record hits you so way down deep that you need to go to a spiritual mountain top type of place to understand where did they go?

What have they been through? To draw from this kind of a place. And again, they’re kids, the sound of this record belies the age of the people who made it. So it comes from a powerful place where they’re taking a lot of stuff and they don’t have to say a lot about it. Lyrically, there aren’t a lot of words on this record, right?

A lot of repetition, very simple blues patterns, ostensibly, they’re singing about one thing, a blues trope, but it’s really about something else, a good bit of the time. So I think you almost need to understand bigger stuff around it to understand why you get walloped so hard when you listen to this thing.

Yeah, but musically we we’ve touched on. There are six stellar essential musicians that are all equally important to this formula. And when you dig into the actual Sonics of their record, there are lots of moments that reward familiarity, right? It’s one of those classic repeat listens will yield new gyms all the time and really focus listening.

So listen to it enough times to get the basic grooves in your head. And then listen with headphones are really loud on vinyl with analog equipment, to hear the depth and hear some of the things like bubble up from, from the bottom of the Lake. The thing that I didn’t know. Again until recently, is that, so there’s the Adrian barber mix, the original mix, the only sound of this record that I’ve ever known, but then it got remixed in 73 kind of reverse engineering with applying the Sonics of what they would become.

Apparently they didn’t love 

the 

Cliff: original mix. That’s right. 

Kyle: Yeah. They cut it in four days, I want to be clear that the way the original mix sounds as essential to getting it right. It’s you said thick it’s real syrupy. There’s more low in bunk. Like the kick drum is way more pronounced, but it’s all, it’s all more in the middle.

Too. It’s a big bell curve. It, it bubbles in the middle, right? It’s just a super thick sound. The guitar is more fussed out and more prominent, nothing really cuts through. And then there’s this 1973 remix that I read somewhere that they had Tom Dowd do. But wasn’t able to verify that Tom Dowd, doing their later stuff, that guy they tried to get for this, it’s got more, the, the remix has more of a.

Like blue note, sophisticated their space, their separation, things come in and out of the mix, more thoughtfully, more tastefully. It’s more subtle. It doesn’t hit you like. A wave of humidity, like their original mix says. And the main thing about it is like the guitars are pulled down in a way some, and I think it achieves more of the, what Duane had in his mind of it’s really Blake listen to everybody in this, but it is pretty different, pretty noticeably different when you listen to one song and then listen to the remix of that same song.

And normally I don’t fall down the rabbit hole of 2004 re-issued and remastered, like the distributors have been doing that with classic rock artists forever, unless it’s Jimmy page himself doing the remix. I don’t care for some other studio hacks interpretation, but here’s a place where it’s warranted.

Cliff: Yeah. General rule. The newer remix sounds better. But not necessarily the case in this, in this, and especially because it happened so soon afterwards, honestly, it feels it feels like maybe some production experts spent a couple of years ago. The, all my brothers stayed two drums and two guitars they’re in the same Sonic range, whoever did this, had no idea what they were.

And they just thought about it for two years and then were like, Give me a crack at it, man. I can do this. I can do this and make them sound separate. But speaking of hidden you, one of the things I love about this record sonically. He’s immediately, the very first song don’t want you no more comes in.

You don’t even know if you’re on a downbeat or an upbeat, there’s like multiple ways to list it. And even listening to the original version of. The song, cause this is like an instrumental cover of the original songs, like a re-imagining right. And even then you can hear them, like it’s like Duane found that guitar riff and was like, man, that riff could be a lot cooler, man.

But it just, it, it comes right out with it. And 

Kyle: by the way, that’s a Steve Winwood leg. That’s not some slouch, it’s a Spencer Davis group song. And to Duane’s credit, I didn’t know until researching that, that was the cover. That was not an original composition that they did, but it absolutely smokes the Spencer Davis version.

And 

Cliff: then it’s. It’s such a deeply meaningful choice to me that first of all, the first song you ever hear from this band is instrumental when they’re obviously hiding a Jim in his own, right. In Gregg. Away for an entire song, but it pays off in an incredible way because then the entire intro song ends up being a set up to drop out and Gregg come in.

And like I wrote down in my notes because one of the ways I prepare for our episodes right. Is I know that we both. Just listen to the album in a ton of different ways. Or while we say we’re trying to get it to hit different every time. And in one of them where it was just like, I’m not allowed to do anything put on the best headphones I have and just focus.

I just wrote down like the feeling you get when Gregg comes in on it. It’s not my cross to bear is should be the new prove you are a human of web forums. If you can listen to this and not be emotionally changed. By the blues of the whole thing and how it comes in and how Gregg hits when he starts singing you, bro.

Kyle: It’s very, it’s very in the spirit of James Brown, that the band comes out and starts vamping and then the singer comes out and you get two separate moments in a great soul experience where. When don’t want, more drops in and you’re like, woo. And then Gregg comes in and he howls and you’re like the biggest dude in the world has to, is the only thing capable of making this noise.

It, it’s a guttural blues roar and it’s a second beggar, like woo, like shit, whatever this says, man, I’m, I’m here for it. It’s just so 

Cliff: heavy. And this song is also a great. Litmus tests for the Allman Brothers as a band in their depth of understanding of the blues. So this isn’t just some kind of interpolation of blues, progressions or styling, but th the important thing here is like this song, particularly.

Shows how it’s like the white space in a song is the blues, the way that they choose to drop out, they use silence, they spread things out. They make it slow. Everyone has this feeling of pulling a moment and stretching it out into infinity inside of this song and then 

Kyle: swing so 

Cliff: hard. Yeah. And it’s just it’s Oh, it’s a really great moment to help, the rest of this album is about to be a Trek.

In a knowing way. Like you have a trusted guide, it’s like going on a hike and finding out whoever it is, like lives up in the mountains. Like for real, like hanging, dries their clothes on the tree and shit. And it’s. In, and of itself is an expressive microcosm of their approach anyway, because not only do you have this, dreadfully dramatic and heavy blue song, but by the end of it, you still have what feels like a broken fragment of a recording that made it into the record anyway.

So that come back and it sounds like somebody sliced in a live cut from Hendrix before it goes the feedback 

Kyle: in the trials. Yeah. Yeah. 

Cliff: And the whole thing is just w we are definitely here. 

Kyle: And then you go into black hearted woman from that. And you hear these guitar harmonics, subtle they’re, they’re playing the lick at different intervals, but that would become a signature part of that, of their thing. And they would space it out. I think the best you’re ever going to hear. Of that move is Elizabeth Reed, right? Became a signature staple alive. Definitely my favorite Allman song, but you, you hear it in the way they drive, like the black hearted woman riff kind of flips over and over on itself.

Done

and just has a. A meat and potatoes beat behind it. We talked about the elements of Bjork, sonically, how, when she would do more of one thing, she’d pull the other thing back here, where the rift drives the rhythm and black hearted woman, the drums pull back and do a more of a meat and potatoes thing.

And those elements vary. In their presence at different places. And that’s where the jam thing came from. They just very intuitively knew when to pull in and pull back and create dynamics and the music, 

Cliff: two things to highlight here that they do musically, that helps you listen to the rest of the Allman Brothers too.

So what you’re referring to is meat and potato drums though, is like they basically cut copied and pasted a funk rhythm and stuck it in there. Listen to you in your head, like play through the, the verses and the intro, even in a standard 12 bar blues, like drum riff, like it’s literally cuts the percussion in half.

And so it slows the whole thing down. It would make the song itself. It feels slow. Whereas a lot of what they do on this album as a whole is they bring funk as a mechanism for making everything feel faster and more lively so that the slower songs feel way more dramatically slow. It would have been really easy to make this a more.

Standards-based so to speak blues record, but it would have felt slow. Whereas at th the way that they did it this way, they’re able to even have a song like dreams in there later on, which is like long drawn out and almost like a medley. And yet this whole record is at 33 minutes is practically a punk record, right?

So that’s one great thing to pay attention to you, I think is the way that the percussion changes, what normally would have been behind a blues band. The second thing which can be applied to any other time that the, that both guitarists were playing harmonic lines together. If you’ve never played guitar, or if you don’t play guitar well, it is impossible to sound that together with another guitarist playing a riff, it requires.

An amount of practice and repetition with another human being that it would wear you out. And I think even  Jaimoe talked about like before they recorded this, like you said, they just played it for months on end until they were ready to just rip it in the studio in four days. And so that’s even more to their credit.

Not only that they were good enough to cut a record, but that again, they were doing something unique and difficult. And they were able to do it in that amount of time and just made 

Kyle: it their core thing. Yeah. Yeah. It takes a psychic chemistry to stay on a page with somebody. That’s that’s the best parts of jazz, right?

When multiple people lock in on a thing in the same voice and it becomes like a spiritual. Type of thing. It’s exactly like jazz. Yeah. And learning about most of the melodic lines coming from Dicky, like Diggy was a really melodic country influence player. Thoughts specifically about the notes and the runs and building melodies out of the guitar line.

And then Duane having this perfect pitch in the ear for harmony would come in and wrap around it, but that they had that kind of intuitive relationship to be able to. Go beyond call and response and integrate with one another really, really powerful. And again, to keep that up one in there core of the way that they wrote songs, but then also for long periods of time, when they would play, 90 minutes, two hours, three hours, when they would lock in like achieving that.

Nirvana swirl was the thing that they were going for all the time was to, to reach that part where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And just keep pushing back up to that 

Cliff: place. One really helpful aside, I think too, because by choosing the Allman brothers day view, we’re implicitly choosing not to ever do brothers and sisters.

So one, especially for the people who are interested in guitar playing and guitar, lineage, Dickey, especially was really inspired by Django Reinhardt, which inspire who inspired, countless guitarist, but. His melodic phrasing and the way that he plays inspired other people to think differently about the guitar and just to encapsulate what should be a podcast on its own Django Reinhardt had an accident.

It was unable to use two of his fingers on his fretting hand. And so he developed the skill and technique to become an influential guitar player with only two of his fingers. And just to kind of like jump down the line a little bit. Yeah. And this is why I mentioned brothers and sisters, Jessica, which, practically, everybody knows, especially if you’ve ever gone to a car race of any kind, like that’s one of my favorite guitar songs of all time.

Dickie wrote that. Tell honor, Django Reinhardt. Jessica is able to be played with two fingers on your fretting hand, which is pretty wild because it’s a long drawn out instrumental guitar solo. It’s got notes, bro. And it’s, it’s fast and it’s hard to play. But just again, to give a little bit of we’re inevitably going to have a lot of Duane focus here as we talk about this record, but like the, the choices that Dickey Betts made his influence.

Not only can’t be understated, but it’s also worth its own exploration further down the Allmans brother track. Yeah. Yeah. And brothers track and it, 

Kyle: and the other guy said after Duane died, you would all know. I think because of all the origin story we’ve been telling that it would become Gregg’s band, but like stylistically it became Dickey’s band.

He was at the core of the thing. Certainly from the 71 to 73 or 74, brothers and sisters is. That’s a Dickey Betts record above all. And again, that six pointed star thing had evaporated. And then not long after that, they lose Barry Oakley, like 10 blocks from where Duane died, which was crazy.

But again, I think it’s good to emphasize. We chose the self-titled because it would never be this perfect hundred and 90 proof, white lightning blues thing that was. To understand Duane Allman, this was the most perfect that Duane Allman ideology ever got, maybe not in the recording and the production, but this is a, this is a document to understanding all of these things that came together and would eventually become this other thing.

But. What it was in this moment was really special. That’s 

Cliff: why all that backstory is worth it. Cause it, it, even in hearing the story and reading it over and over, it feels like this was the thing that Duane had been holding in his entire life. That’s right. 

You 

Kyle: made an interesting point about the tempos of the songs.

Alternating. I think it’s interesting that it speeds up toward the middle with black hearted woman and then trouble no more, which, was the jam that kind of started it all really does the muddy waters thing, justice. And in the 1973 mix, you can hear more of the acoustic attack. There’s more clarity and like the playing and there’s a cleaner, more muscular base.

You really get a joy of Barry Oakley and listening to that one, but far and away. If you talk about anything on this record, the two things are dreams and whipping posts. Either one of those I could make a case for the whipping post to me is the most important rock and roll song. Say what you will about stairway or Freebird or.

Do you feel like we do or any Hendricks or whatever, like whipping post has its place in the Pantheon. And if maybe you don’t want to call it the best rock and roll song ever, it’s like the best post blues blues song. Please turn 

Cliff: the page. You’ve reached one third of the way through this podcast episode now for the remaining two-thirds, we will talk about dreams and whipping posts.

Kyle: We’ll be back next time for part two. 

Cliff: These two songs alone could have been their own EAP could have gone 

Kyle: down in history and I’d still want to cover it if it was just these two songs. So both of these written by Greg, right? Gregg talked about how he showed up with 22 songs that they asked him to go off and write Gregg a great songwriter, prolific songwriter, and the first batch of stuff.

They were like, nah, but he had this slow mournful B3. Oregon song in dreams. And they had the slow dirge, mournful blue song and whipping post, and one stayed. The former kind of stayed what it was and was flourished. Flourish was built around it by the rest of the guys. And then whipping posts was changed significantly from the form.

Greg originally intended it. So dreams, I think to start there as if there’s one song you got to have headphones for. On this record, it’s this one in the remix. And again, if you’re looking for these, we’ll share them in the thread, but the way to find the remix version is to search for Allman brothers band deluxe or to search for beginnings.

And it’ll say, I think on the track that I was like 1973 beginnings mix. So in dreams you can hear. If you’re really paying attention to the dynamics of the drum hits on both sides, right? When they’re swelling the song up, you can hear them physically hitting harder and you can hear when they bring it back down, the solo is really the thing.

About this song. And I love the story of Duane was trying to get it right. They had pretty much everything down cold, except for the solo in dreams. And he couldn’t get it right. Couldn’t get it right. Couldn’t get it. And then basically came in and played the same thing he’d been playing, but with slide and made everybody in the studio cry.

Just one of those moments that took everybody’s breath away, like literally. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Not, not an exaggeration. 

Cliff: And you talked about that rhythm too. I think it’s good to point out there. This was like dreams was their palette for all the jazz that they’ve been consuming. And so specifically to your point about the rhythm, both the Jaimoe’s percussion and the baseline are taken directly from miles Davis is all.

All blues. They’re, they’re blooming jazz songs at this point and then putting them together and then Duane is doing that on top. 

Kyle: So the, the slide solo is really powerful when you’re listening to it with your full attention, but the. Oregon puts it in this nice Sonic basket.

Like it underpins it really nicely. And there’s a rhythm guitar lick that I hadn’t really ever heard until I was listening. But in the right channel, really tastefully, there’s like a clean tone guitar lick and that’s a such an essential little piece to the whole thing. It’s just such a warm blanket of blues, man.

That song absolutely kills. And then there’s whooping. Whooping had a woman poet. I say that 

Cliff: I sounded like an LP line. Boy, boy, toy. 

Kyle: Sorry. I say that. And then immediately after that is whipping post, right? This is the Allman brothers band. Vultron at max power. I would fail to try to describe it, but it’s of other things we’ve talked about on this podcast.

It’s the halfway point between I’ve been loving you too long. And that moment where Otis says you are tired and holds that note and all of the bombast of stairway mash those two things together. And you got this overdriven blues song that was arranged in this way by Barry Oakley. So they had the basic idea at Barry Oakley stopped the rehearsal cold and was like, Let me workshop this I’ll be back tomorrow, came back with the baseline that we now know and love today.

And I think this is the part where we got to just drop it in and let it ride for a second. 

Cliff: Stairway gives an interesting way to view parts of the song. God help us. We should never do a, which song is better type thing. So just, just think of it as a way to compare some of the things that are happening in the song.

But so with stairway clearly, right? It builds even timing wise where they, they start messing with time signatures and it builds towards the guitar solo, which in and of itself builds to the apex. And so the apex of stairway is that moment where it like. All of a sudden at the end of the solo, Jimmy page goes really high up on the fret board.

The chord progression changes, the rhythm changes. Robert plant comes back in and it’s supposed to be like a mountainous type feeling of and we’ve gone up and now we’re back down everything in whipping posts, almost everything on this album is in service of the moment where they completely drop out and only Gregg comes back in.

Yup. And so good Lord. 

Kyle: I feel like I’m dying. 

Cliff: Oh, In take that again and think about, as we talked about earlier when Gregg first comes in on, it’s not my cross to bear, it’s similar in the sense of, yeah, there was a pause right before then, and now it’s Greg, but like here’s the moment where it’s been building and building and essentially the entire band lays.

What would become their most well-known song at the feet of Greg? Like it is all on Gregg at that moment to make the connection between the song that just stopped in the van. That’s about to pick back up and yeah, I can almost. Feel somebody listening to this being like that’s some professional ass overthinking of the song, but like it’s, that’s blues, like drawing the tension until it becomes desperate feeling.

And until the silence in the song feels like a void and then something shouts through it. Similarly, like just like Otis would do. Like you said, it’s such a powerful, 

Kyle: yeah. It’s catharsis is the thing,

 the other. Vocal thing to note is the bridge right before they cut out for the last, sometimes I feel he’s just screaming.

He’s howling. It’s visceral, right? It’s just pure of the moment visceral feel. And the remix tamps down the rasp of it, a good deal. But whereas he’s not going in the red and the mix on this one, it cuts through better. So you definitely want to hear it. In the original mix because it’s, it’s like a little bit blunt, like just slightly blown out.

And that contributes to the urgency of the song. I love thinking of it as white lightening. Like it’s just white lightening feel. It’s the purest raw uncut blues feeling that you can get anywhere. It’s such a 

Cliff: story. Gregg wrote the song on an ironing board with the Burton of matches. Cause he didn’t have a pin just 

Kyle: that’s the blues man. And I loved the stories that came out when Gregg Allman unfortunately passed killer Mike, who we have mentioned a number of times on this podcast, local hero. This is apparently one of his all time favorite songs. And he, he can cite the lyrics the same way that he would shook ones part two.

Cause it’s just in the Canon. And apparently he will listen to this sometimes before they go out and do run. The Juul shows like to tap into the most primal place of feeling and human connection. And to the point you were making earlier that the power of music, like the Holy spirit of the thing at the dead center, this is that you’re, you’re not gonna.

The land any closer on the thing. That is the reason we all keep coming back to music than the thing at the center of whip and 

Cliff: post one of my favorites. Quotes from anybody in the band at the time was from Gregg describing the intro though, to that song, as you mentioned, like there were some iterations of it.

And then there was just a lot of excitement about a total rearrangement. And the intro is depending on who you talk to in like an 11, four or 11, eight time signature. The Allman brothers, pretty classically throughout this whole album. We’ll introduce weird time signatures. And they never quite really feel like they’re in an odd time signature because they do a great job at dropping it into a four, four at some point.

Phil 

Kyle: Walden talked about playing jazz structures and blues ways like the swinging feel was their thing. They, they flattened it into grew, always. Just 

Cliff: to give you an idea though, of like this wasn’t a high intellectual realism type of thing. This was, this was an extraction with honor and respect.

So Gregg would talk about that intro later and he said, I, I didn’t know the intro. Wasn’t 11 four. I just counted it. He basically goes on you could tell he was probably having a good time during this quote because he just goes on to try to describe how he counts. Numbers. But then he’s I didn’t think of it that way.

I thought of it more like one, two, three, one, two. So anyway, but he goes through and describes it, but he talks about when this intro was written in that, Gregg started playing along with it and everything. And that Duane said, man, that’s good. I didn’t know that you would understand 11 four and Gregg says.

Of course. I said something intelligent back to him, like what’s 11, four, and Duane said, okay, dumb ass. I’ll draw this up on a piece of paper for you so you can play it. I’m like just the little moment of like brother, just like brother to brother, 

Kyle: I’m gonna fill a pillowcase full of bars of silk and beat the shit out of you.

Cliff: From these guys who are investing in this like emotionally distraught, howling moment. Do you still can’t rip the family at it? Anything 

Kyle: like that? It’s it’s just about playing for feel for them. It’s not necessarily about that. Blue is agony of it. It was just the voice of the vocabulary that they knew to try to play with feeling.

It does ultimately though come back to Duane and his vision and there are so many reverent quotes. Around him from his bandmates, but struck saying he was capable of reaching inside people and pulling out the best of your point about what he was just saying about Greg. He made us all realize that music will never be great if everyone doesn’t give it all they have.

And we all took on that attitude. Why bother to play if you’re not going all in. But then my favorite one was Dickey Betts, right? His true counterpoint. And they would go out. Every night and try to out to each other and push each other to new Heights. He said, it says a lot that Duane’s hero is Muhammad Ali.

He had Ali’s type of Supreme confidence. If you weren’t involved in what he thought was a big picture. He didn’t have time for you. A lot of people really didn’t like him for that. It’s not that he was aggressive. He was more of a super positive, straight ahead. I got work to do kind of thing. If you didn’t get it, see you later, he always seemed like he was charging ahead and it took a lot of energy to be with them.

And that energy is on full display. In this record, 

Cliff: I think it’s worth noting too, because the Allman Brothers caught fire after, at Fillmore East that, and that’s where I think whipping post started to get the appropriate amount of attention. 

Kyle: I just have 23 minute version of it or whatever, 

Cliff: which is good.

But I just want to make sure anyone who’s listening to this who hasn’t heard, the original version goes back and really, really listens to the original. This is one of those, I think rare situations where a live version of whipping posts draws out. A version of the song that doesn’t exist otherwise. And it’s great to me.

I wonder how much you’re going to hate me for this. John Mayer plays gravity at the end of all of his sets now, and it’s just such a good, solid blues palette. And it’s a really different song from the original. 

Kyle: Okay. A few years ago, I hear you. You’ve you’ve won me over. Like I get it. He’s a great 

Cliff: guitar player.

Wow. So in contrast to that, where his original. Where the original gravity it’s good, but it’s not at all the same song that he plays. Now. It’s different here. The original of whipping posts contains a concentrated version. It’s like a cold brew of whipping posts on this album and it’s so worth. Listening to over and over in its original form, it stands alone and it should continue to stand alone.

And apart from virtually every white blue song that came out then, or afterwards, 

Kyle: I’m still surprised that anyone listens to this podcast, but there are. I try to think okay, if this makes any kind of a difference, if this makes a dent in any way, music, fans, life, what are the specific things that maybe we were able to achieve as a result of getting together and getting each other excited about these things.

If one person ever in my life tells me. I can’t believe I’ve never heard whipping posts before. It’s one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard. And I’m telling everybody I know about it. Like I’ll just straight up. Go ahead and punch my own ticket. Cause that’s, that’s it. I did my good earthly deed and I had a real good run.

And when you deliver my eulogy, ultimately, I want you to tell that story. So I hope that above all, you spend some time with weapon posts. I think there are other places that you can go after that. I think you absolutely should listen to Phil, Maurice, so crazy that this wild. Live record with 20 and 30 minute song links, like entire sides of an LP where the record that made the span break out, speaks to what a tour to force they were alive.

Some other things that, we didn’t really want to touch on cause they get beyond the scope of this moment. This intersection of factors is Duane’s playing and Derek and the dominoes. We have our feelings about Eric Clapton, but he’s almost universally regarded as one of the best guitar players of all time, certainly integral with its work with cream and his solo stuff.

But Derek and the dominoes, if you are a rock and roll fan, Layla certainly, but there’s a record called the Layla sessions or a later re-issue and there are, there’s a five-part jam in there. That’s just he and Eric, it gets to the core of. How they really pushed each other and how Duane was so good.

He became peers with one of his heroes. So jam one through jam five on the Layla sessions are worth a listen. Some other directions, just three more. I want to touch on one is a C level. So  Jaimoe really went down. More of the jazz fusion route in the later seventies and beyond  Jaimoe has continued to find and be inspired by new groups of musicians.

His whole career. We will share the New York times article where he was interviewed. He is really the remaining spiritual leader of the band and the idea of the band now. But sea level was a jazz fusion group. Who re really sun Capricorn Jaimoe on drums. Chuck Leavelle who played with the Allmans briefly, but has since been the, the rolling stones keyboardist their key guy, they would cover some, all my brother’s stuff live notably Hotlanta, which the only instance of you ever being able to say hot Lana and not getting slapped in the face.

Factually correct for it. Then this was a late break. In addition, in our research Johnny Jenkins, if you look at the Duane Allman anthology of like stuff that he recorded on, he recorded with this guy, Johnny Jenkins, who was the band leader of the pine toppers, who was the first group to hire Otis Redding as a singer.

So that’s Johnny Jenkins claim to fame. It was originally intended as a Duane solo album before Allman brothers band. He played most guitar tracks and Jenkins later supplied vocal tracks and Duane Barry Oakley Jaimoe, and Butch trucks were all on this record. And it’s. All covers and the title. Tauntaun Macoute, I’m sure I’m saying that wrong.

Cause I’m not Creel enjoyed it though. Translates roughly in Haitian Creole to bogeyman and was the nickname for Papa doc’s secret police in Haiti in the fifties, but it’s this killer like Dr. John meets muscle Shoals. It’s funky. If you want a little bit of a counterpoint to the. Duane thing or the Allman brothers thing, Lowell, George was a Duane of sorts.

He’s a mega talent and he died at 34. But he was California born and steeped in new Orleans funk. In fact, he joined the meters to back Robert Palmer on an album once. So this sort of like racial fusion, cultural fusion thing was at its best. When he was in little feet on the 74 record feets, don’t fail me now.

Because we’ll probably never cover that record on the podcast. And I think it’s one of the best other examples of this like funk blues, all that I want to call that out. So we have some definite places for you to go. If you dig this at all, and we don’t always do, we do a varying degree of job at sending you other places once you’ve been here.

But fortunately there are a bunch of places other than like Skinner and Marshall Tucker, where Allmans. Unlocked a Rosetta stone for mixed culture, stylistic blending that was done really uniquely and effectively 

Cliff: sending out people in 18 different individual directions is the only way we can possibly convince ourselves to stop talking about this record for any amount of time, please 

Kyle: leave the room now.

Cliff: Or we’re just going to keep talking until you can, I need to smoke a carton of cigarettes, cause this has both been enjoyable and it’s stressful to stop. 

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

SEASON 5 EPISODES

TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

Read More

TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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RADIO EPISODES

SEASON 4 EPISODES

SEASON 3 EPISODES

SEASON 2 EPISODES

SEASON 1 EPISODES

BONUS TRACK EPISODES

Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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ABOUT US

We're Cliff (left) and Kyle (right). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and entertainment, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.