THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – IDLEWILD SOUTH – September 1970
What did the Allman Brothers, John Mayall, Love, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Van Morrison, Traffic and Santana have in common? Many answers would be correct, but the introduction of Jazz into Rock by all mentioned, and select others, is evident within the total sophistication of select tracks on the Allman Brothers second album, Idlewild South.
Back then the only way music was categorized was by our own informed knowledge, arbitrary record store divider cards and to a lesser degree, the critics. Right inline with the way we felt about integration and ethnicities, we welcomed all forms of music, with Rock at the top of course – OK, so we were a little prejudiced. So when we heard what was defined as “Southern Rock” we just saw it as Bluesy Hard Rock with a dab of Roots Rock mixed in.
With Idlewild South The Allman Brothers totally jettisoned the Southern Rock category and showed everyone their superior compositions and mastery of musicianship and laid down some of the most sophisticated jazz-tinged, yet stone rockin’ blues this side of Santana’s Abraxas.
All songs written by Gregg Allman, except where noted.
“Revival” (Dickey Betts) – 4:05
Perfect! We were still in the ambient throes of being the “Love Generation” and this song was a spiritually-rousing reminder that “Love is everywhere.”
“Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” – 3:31
“Midnight Rider” (Allman, Robert Payne) – 3:00
An instant classic; lyrics, music, title, all worked together immediately. Great road trip track – we all considered ourselves Midnight Riders.
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” (Betts) – 6:56
Epic! Invigorating! A definite Classic!
“Hoochie Coochie Man” (Willie Dixon) – 4:57
Many greats have covered this song but 00individual’s personal favorite is right here – a whompin’ strong wallop of Blues – if this track don’t get your bones jumpin’, you be the undead.
“Please Call Home” – 4:02
This is the Blues: tuggin’ at heartstrings, hittin’ those soul chords, lamentin’ love’s loss, or, maybe that call will come . . . and if not, then . . .
“Leave My Blues at Home” – 4:17
The Allman Brothers had a distinct edge with one of Rock’s top vocalists and keyboardist in Greg Allman. This was a voice that could soulfully tear your heart out and turn a mellow mournful growl into a thunderous Rock force that could levitate the whole band. His songwriting is classic blues deluxe, with a natural extension of what was before that displayed a supernatural exhibition of the growth within Rock.
Duane Allman was seen as a peer by Jimi Hendrix (it’s nice to know that a Guitar God like Jimi sat in awe of Duane’s guitar playing) and certainly Eric Clapton was wowed as evidenced by Duane’s contribution on Derek and the Dominoes’ “Layla and other Love Songs” double album on lead, rhythm or slide guitar on most of the cuts on the album and memorably on the album’s title track.
With Berry Oakley – bass guitar, vocals on “Hoochie Coochie Man”, and harmony vocals on “Midnight Rider”, Jai Johanny Johanson – drums, congas, timbales, percussion and Butch Trucks – drums, timpani – the rhythm base was Rock ‘n’ Roll solid . . .
. . . and then we have Dickey Betts, lead guitar and composer of “Revival” and the preternatural instrumental Album Track Gem epic,
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”.
Good Gawd! Southern Rock? This was Jazz-Rock!
Check Greg’s “Jimmy Smith” powered jazz rock organ halfway through.
This is seven solid minutes of pure, exquisite, sublime, jazz rock blues –
a High Watermark in the Annuls of Rock
Trippy Note 1:
00individual has an imprinted soft spot for this album as it was the ambient background for a very memorable potent Mescaline trip courtesy of Monster Mike – who looked a lot like Duane Allman.
Trippy Note 2: Apparently the Allman Brothers Band rehearsed/played in a local cemetery and instead of “dedicating” the song to the real woman of Bett’s’ affection, Boz Scaggs’ girlfriend at the time, Betts used the name of a woman who was buried there, one Elizabeth Reed.
In a somewhat spooky coincidence, not too far away from Reed’s grave lie the graves of Duane Allman and Barry Oakley, both killed in motorcycle accidents and both buried in the cemetery they loved to play in.
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