Greg Allman brings it back with 'Low Country Blues': Let's Talk About Rock

Posted by Eli Cohen

The tragic death of his older brother Duane led Gregg Allman, who was at one point a household name, to pursue an erratic and intermittent solo career.

The Hammond-playing rocker from Nashville, best known as the lead singer for the Allman Brothers, released his first album in nearly nine years "Low Country Blues," on Jan. 18. Legendary Los Angeles music-scene veteran T Bone Burnett produced the album, which features blues heavyweights such as Mack "Dr. John" Rebennack.

The album is comprised of blues classics, by artists ranging from Muddy Waters ("I Can't Be Satisfied") to 1930s blues icon Skip James ("Devil Got My Woman"), as well as one original track "Just Another Rider," which was co-written by Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes.

James is known for his classics "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" and "I'm So Glad," which has been subsequently covered by both Eric Clapton's "Cream" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" fame. Because of his unique writing style, it is not difficult to hear that James penned "Devil Got My Woman".

The album contains songs written anywhere between mid-1920s to the present. Because of the wide timeframe, many of the songs sound like definite throwbacks.  "Little By Little" and "Please Accept My Love" sound like they come straight from the 1950s, while the album's ninth track, "Tears, Tears, Tears" features the horn section that Allman has become known for, making the song sound like a Las Vegas standard.

The 63-year-old Nashville native, boasting six different wives, five children and three grandchildren over the course of his life, clearly has a specific message in mind with this new album.  With track titles such as "Devil Got My Woman," "My Love is Your Love" and "Please Accept My Love," there seems to be an overarching theme that is developed, possibly furthered by his history of substance abuse and addiction.

Allman finds a perfect refuge in the words of the old greats, where he seems to be right at home.  His rich, southern voice, which was voted No. 76 on the Rolling Stone Magazine list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, carries out over the layers of guitar riffs and jazzy piano licks, courtesy of Dr. John.  

At times this album gives off the impression of the run-of-the-mill, generic southern blues, especially with John Lee Hooker's "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," which seems unchanged from the original.

However, as is to be expected with the talent of Allman's magnitude, there are also many moments of pure brilliance.  "My Love is Your Love" is an example of timeless blues. Allman's soulful voice blends perfectly with the blues riffs playing around him.  The musical success of this song is interesting because it also sounds more like vintage Allman Brothers than any other track on the album.

"Checking on My Baby" is a beautiful song that opens with the lines, "Every day I look for sunshine, look for sunshine though it rains/Every time I check on my baby, she's checking up on another man."  The classic blues riffs, as well as the steady, strong drumbeat, provide a forceful background to Allman's beautiful lamentations.

For all blues fans, whether they like Eric Clapton or Mississippi John Hurt, "Low Country Blues" proves to be one of the most promising blues albums released in years, done right by a man who has been a staple of the blues genre for over five decades.

Eli Cohen is a sophomore music major from Middlebury, Vt.

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