Monday, July 18, 2016

family bands: ramblin' man

purchase Allman Brothers Band: Ramblin' Man

Brothers qualify as family, and few others more deserve their place in the pantheon of rock star families more than Duane and Gregg Allman. Playing together through several bands beginning in the early 60s, the Allman brothers actually only played together in their eponymous band for about 2 years until Duane's untimely death in 1971.

The band's Brothers and Sisters album came out after after the extended family had already suffered the seemingly irreparable losses of solo/lead Duane and bass player Berry Oakley, essentially decimating the family. But the legend/name lived on: it was at its commercial height in 1973 when the album came out, and various music critics agree that the album equalled or at least maintained the quality which the band had become famous for while Duane and Berry were alive.

The conceit behind the Brothers and Sisters theme revolves around a large farm that they bought in Georgia, where they aimed to bring the remaining members of the band together as family. The center photo of the LP shows various members assembled at the place, while a son and daughter of the family grace the front and back covers of the LP.

Off and on since the 1970s, a surprising number of the original members (Jaimoe, Butch Trucks, Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman) have managed to find ways to keep it going - more or less. My research came up with a couple of 2014 dates as their most recent concerts (some of them at least).

As for the song here, the idea of a ramblin man seems too classic a part of blues/rock lore that you would assume that the song was a re-take on someone's previous version and not a Dickey Betts original. Hank Williams Sr did come out with a Ramblin Man back in the 50s, but it would take a better ear than mine to note a similarity. There's also a Waylon Jennnings song of similar title that comes a little cloer to sounding like the essence of Betts' tune - at least a little more of a ramble than the Williams' song. Woodie Guthrie treated the theme of ramblin - both in real life and in song, as did Leadbelly to some extent in (Goodnight) Irene, where he sang:

Quit your ramblin, quit your gamblin - both notions included in the Dickey Betts lyrics.

First, here's Dickey Betts doin' the best he can to make up for the double lead all by his lonesome:

And then again several years later with Dan Toler as the 2nd lead guitar:

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