Turquiose by Devon Allman

March 27, 2013

When you release an album and your last name is Allman, people will pay attention. This brings us to Devon Allman and his solo debut album, Turquoise.

Devon is the son of Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers. His parents divorced while he was an infant and thus he had little contact with his famous father until he was a teenager. Allman was originally influenced by hard rock bands such as Kiss, but he has since then settled into a rock/blues fusion sound that is associated with his father/The Allman Brothers.

He formed the band Honeytribe in 1999 that is now on hiatus, as most of his attention and energy has been directed toward his involvement with his new band/supergroup, Royal Southern Brotherhood and a solo project (the main subject of this review). Other members of his Royal Southern Brotherhood include vocalist/percussionist Cyril Neville, guitarist Mike Zito, bassist Charlie Wooten, and drummer Yonrico Scott.

Turquoise is Devon’s first solo release. It was recorded as a basic power trio with RSB band mate Scott and bassist Myles Weeks, with a few guests scattered among the 11 tracks.

Most of this Allman’s solo music falls into a southern rock and electric blues groove. He is an impeccable guitarist who is a credit to his last name. His lyrics may need some honing here and there but the music is catchy and gritty. Devon is fully able to carry the sound with his guitar runs and vocals.

“When I Left Home” is his best lyrical creation, as it contains wonderful imagery. It also contains some slide guitar play by Luther Dickinson, which fills in the sound and is the perfect foil for Devon. This autobiographical song leaves you wanting more of the same. “Yadira’s Lullaby” moves in a different direction and it features some smooth acoustic guitar play.

“Time Machine” moves in a subtle jazz direction. The only non-original song is a cover of the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks tune, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Samantha Fish duets on the vocals in a track that is very different from what surrounds it.

At this point in his career, Devon Allman is still a work in progress. Turquoise is a good beginning for this second generation Allman musician

Article first published as Music Review: Devon Allman – Turquoise on Blogcritics.

I’m No Angel: Live On Stage (DVD) by Gregg Allman

December 14, 2012

2012 has been a good year for Gregg Allman. The Allman Brothers received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, plus he published his autobiography, My Cross To Bear. To capitalize on those milestones, Cherry Red Films will release a somewhat odd DVD on December 11, 2012 that contains some good music.

The title of the DVD, I’m No Angel: Live On Stage, gives the impression that it was a performance of his 1986 iconic album of the same name. The music was taken from a November 1988 concert at The Cannery in Nashville, Tennessee. That particular tour was in support of his Just Before the Bullets Fly album. Thus four of the tracks are from that release, with only three from the album advertised in the title. It was also a short performance of just under an hour. He was the opening act for Stevie Ray Vaughan, so his set was adjusted to reflect that fact.

The good news is that there is some very good music contained on the DVD. His solo career began shortly after his brother Duane’s death and while he continued to perform and record with The Allman Brothers, by 1988 his solo act had been honed and he had accumulated a good catalogue of his own music. His backing band of guitarist Dan Toler, drummer Dave Toler, bassist Bruce Waibel, keyboardist Tim Heding, and percussionist Charles Trippy had backed him in the studio and were tight on stage.

Three songs are from the album I’m No Angel. “Don’t Want You No More,” “It’s My Cross to Bear,” and especially the title track are more raw and stark than their studio counterparts. Four tracks are from Just before the Bullets Fly. The title track, “Demons,” “Fear of Falling,” and “Slip Away,” show just what a good musician and vocalist Gregg Allman was live on stage.

The highlight of the concert was the old blues classic, “Statesboro Blues,” which was a part of the Allman Brothers repertoire. It may not have the guitar power of the original but it was a wonderfully gritty version of the old Blind Willie McTell tune from the 1920s.

The sound is excellent as the various instruments and vocals are clear and distinct. The camera angles are limited and the picture quality is average. It was probably another one of those concerts that was not meant for general release at the time, so the recording process was haphazard.

I’m No Angel: Live On Stage may not be the definitive Gregg Allman concert experience as the song selection is a bit dated and the performance is short. Still, what is present is a fine introduction to his solo career.

Article first published as Music DVD Review: Gregg Allman – I’m No Angel: Live On Stage on Blogcritics.

Nothing But Tears 45 by Hour Glass

September 9, 2012

All careers have to start somewhere. Before Duane and Gregg Allman formed the Allman Brothers, they were a part of the Allman Joys and Hour Glass. Both bands reveived little commercial success but they set the tone for what was to follow.

The Hour Glass were formed during 1967 by Gregg and Duane Allman plus keyboardist Paul Hornsby, drummer Johnny Sandlin, and bassist Pete Carr. They opened for such bands as The Doors and The Buffalo Springfield.

Their debut single was “Nothing But Tears,” which received no chart action whatsoever. Hour Glass was more of a psychedelic rock band than the future Allman Brothers. The picture sleeve remains an excellent relic of the psychedelic era.

Roadsongs by The Derek Trucks Band

August 22, 2010

Derek Trucks may be young but he has ascended to the rare stratosphere of the top guitarists in the world. He received his first paycheck at age 11, sat in with Buddy Guy at 12, and formed his own band at 15. At 24 Rolling Stone included him on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.

Today he continues to record and tour with his own Derek Trucks Band. He has also been a member of the legendary Allman Brothers since 1999 which his uncle, Butch Trucks, helped found. He has also toured in recent years with Eric Clapton as part of his backing band. Somehow in the middle of all this he managed to marry blues singer Susan Tedeschi.

During early April of 2010 he brought the Derek Trucks Band to Chicago for two days of live playing and recording. The result is the two-disc, just under two-hour set, Roadsongs. Derek Trucks has never produced a bad studio album but live his playing takes on new power and produces even more exciting textures. He uses a song as a taking off point for his improvisations and, as such, every performance is different.

This latest live album catches him at his best and is a must for any fan of the blues or the guitar. While it is grounded in the blues, he stretches it out to embrace rock, jazz, and even a little reggae.

It is an album that builds with the first four songs, which find him becoming increasingly involved and the solos growing longer. By the time he reaches “Get What You Deserve” he is at the top of his game as one of the best slide guitarists alive today.

Classics “Anyday,” “Down In The Flood,” and “Key To The Highway” all receive brilliant translations. “Afro Blue,” at well over ten minutes, is a jazz piece in which he plays off a three-piece brass section. The reggae tune, “Rastaman Chant,” is funky and joyous.

Mike Mattison is the lead vocalist here and his gruff vocals are a good match for Trucks’ blues sound. Other group members include bassist Todd Smallie, drummer Yonrico Scott, keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge, and percussionist Count M’Butu. In addition there is the aforementioned brass section, which is made up of Mace Hibbard, Paul Garrett, and Kevin Hyde.

Roadsongs is one of the better live albums to be released during the last several years. It’s that good!

Article first published as on Blogcritics.org