Skip to main content

Allman Brothers Band history: 1990 -- two guitars, two keyboards

The 80s were the Allman Brothers Band's "lost decade." Barely limping into the 80s, the band called it quits in early 1982 amid an increasingly vague musical direction and a declining interest in the southern rock and blues they were known for. By the middle of the decade, their fortunes began to improve somewhat as classic rock radio renewed interest in their music and Gregg Allman stumbled upon a major hit with the song "I'm No Angel." Dickey's 1988 solo album Pattern Disruptive was not as well-received but the success of a Betts/Allman tour featuring their respective solo bands was a clear indicator that America was ready for the Allmans to take flight once more.

The Toler Brothers, who had been a part of ABB 3.0 and were also in Gregg Allman's solo band, were not asked to come back. Chuck Leavell had signed on with the Rolling Stones. Coming on board were three new members. Through auditions they found Allen Woody, an imposing figure with a massive sound and approach that harkened back to original member Berry Oakley. David Allen Coe's opening slot for the ABB in November 1981 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta led Dickey to meet DAC's young guitar player Warren Haynes. Warren would later play on Betts' Pattern Disruptive album and be brought into the reunion. Finally there was keyboard player Johnny Neel who had done time with both Dickey and Gregg's solo bands and was the "experienced veteran" of the three Allman newcomers.

For the initial reunion shows in 1989 they stuck to the most well-known songs though solo Gregg tunes "I'm No Angel" and "Just Before The Bullets Fly" made their way into the setlist. In April 1990, they recorded the Seven Turns album. Gregg was conspicuously absent from the songwriting, sharing only a co-credit for "Good Clean Fun." Dickey contributed a lot of material with Johnny Neel and Warren pitching in as well (the latter taking lead vocals on "Loaded Dice"). Some of the standout songs from this album included the slow blues "Gambler's Roll," the instrumental "True Gravity" and the country-tinged "Seven Turns" (possibly the last truly classic song written by Dickey.)

Touring in support of the album resulted in around 60 shows from June 1990 through the end of November. Let's check out the 9/23/90 show from Syracuse, NY. (The next night would be their final time headlining Madison Square Garden.)

Some songs would be dropped depending on time but setlists were generally the same every show. Open with some hits, hit 'em with four new ones and then close with some more hits. At the same time, three of the final five songs were instrumentals -- not exactly what the casual fan who only knew them for Midnight Rider wanted to hear! True Gravity would be the showcase for the lengthy drum and bass solo sections.

Warren Haynes may be a revered name now but in 1990 he was barely 30 years old and hardly anyone knew who he was. Yet he quickly emerged as the musical foil the Brothers hadn't had since Duane Allman: a guitarist who could hold his own with Dickey -- perhaps even surpass him -- and elevate the band to new heights with virtuosic slide playing and an unparalleled musical intelligence. This was a period when his main amp with the band was the Soldano Super Lead Overdrive which gave a "creamy" tone and a bit of heavy metal bite.

Johnny Neel found himself the odd man out unfortunately. The ABB framework had long been set in stone: two powerhouse soloists trading off buffered by Gregg's workmanlike B-3 playing. Johnny struggled to find his place in the band's sound and was often overpowered by the guitarists. When given a solo spot he had a tendency to overplay, delivering technically brilliant jazz and blues piano showcases that more often than not had little connection to the actual song. It just didn't work -- not unlike T. Lavitz's 1991 stint with Widespread Panic. Johnny would be let go at the end of 1990 and the Allmans would return to the studio in '91 for the Shades Of Two Worlds album.

The Allman Brothers Band
War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, NY


mp3 @ 320 [312 mb]
sq: EX

01 Intro Jam > Don't Want You No More >

02 It's Not My Cross To Bear
03 Statesboro Blues
04 Blue Sky
05 Low Down Dirty Mean
06 Seven Turns
07 Good Clean Fun
08 Gambler's Roll
09 In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
10 One Way Out
11 True Gravity
12 Jessica
13 Whipping Post

tt: 2:16:23


Popular posts from this blog

Jimmy Page -- Outrider (1988)

Jimmy Page will forever be known as the Creator of Led Zeppelin but his post-LZ projects of the 80s and 90s are ripe for a critical reassessment. There's a healthy quantity of music there: the Death Wish II soundtrack, an collaboration with Roy Harper, two albums from The Firm, the one Coverdale-Page recording, two Page and Plant albums, a live effort with The Black Crowes and of course his one true solo album -- 1988's Outrider.

It was released on label powerhouse Geffen Records with a major promotional push during the height of "hair metal." Pay no mind to the Motley Crues and Bon Jovis, the Guitar God was back and would reclaim his throne. The end result would be a very personal art project that left the public feeling a little cold. The three commercially-oriented singles would be the weakest tracks and stiff at radio.

David Fricke of Rolling Stone described it as "a whole lotta muddle, a bewildering amalgam of trademark Pagey rifferama, utter lyric banality, …

Ice Cube -- Amerikka's Most Wanted (1990)

Fresh off a split from NWA, Ice Cube headed to New York to make his first (and best) solo album with The Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's production crew). East And West Coast MCs have made selected tracks together but no one had attempted a whole album like this. Tons of great funk samples by Steve Arrington, P-Funk, Kool & The Gang, Bar-Kays, James Brown, Bob James, Zapp -- and the "Long Red" and "Synthetic Substitution" breaks (before it all got played out). Unsung MVP was Eric Sandler of The Bomb Squad who never gets his due as a hip hop producer. 

Allman Brothers Band history: 1971 -- The final months of Duane Allman

One of the most tragic parts of the Duane Allman story is that he only got to enjoy a brief period of the Allman Brothers Band's massive success. The first two albums, 1969's self-titled debut and 1970's Idlewild South barely sold. They were on the road in a Winnebago non-stop (260 gigs between 1970 and 1971) but were still being kept afloat financially by Phil Walden and Capricorn Records. Band members made around $150/week. Not too bad for 1970 but hardly rock star riches.

Other than Walden, the band's other great benefactor was Bill Graham. They would end 1969 with several dates at the Fillmore East opening for Blood, Sweat And Tears, head out to San Francisco in January to open for BB King at Fillmore West and then be back in New York in February 1970 to open for the Grateful Dead. September and December would see more Fillmore East shows.

In March 1971, the monumental At Fillmore East album was recorded over three nights. A lesser known fact is that a horn section w…