The Allman Brothers Band Hittin' The Note

The more things change, the more they stay the same with these storied Southern rock pioneers. Yet, with the final ousting of guitarist Dickey Betts three years ago leaving only Gregg Allman, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe the last remnants of the original six, fans definitely had a right to assume that this great American musical institution would go out with a whimper. With such low expectations then, it’s heartening to hear that this album not only packs all the instrumental wallop that’s the Brothers’ trademark sound, but also shows a band poised to continue as long as there’s someone named Allman in the line-up. With the creative tension that always existed between Betts and Allman now eliminated, Gregg’s pure blues and R&B spirit is at the fore, and it’s clear by the energy he displays throughout the album that he relishes finally being the only straw stirring the drink. But the real star of the show is guitarist Warren Haynes, the man largely responsible for reviving the band in the early ’90s, and again now after establishing himself over the past few years with Gov’t Mule. Here, Haynes deftly fills Betts’ role as Allman’s foil, while maintaining the classic ABB sound as co-producer. That means lyrical guitar interplay, and 21-year-old slide guitarist Derek Trucks takes full advantage of his first opportunity to do the job on record he was seemingly destined to have since the first time he put a glass bottle on his finger. Sure, most of Allman’s lyrics seem overly preoccupied with the regrets that come with age, but when the entire band gets into full flight, as on the new epic "Desdemona,” they sound as good as they ever did. A very pleasant surprise for old fans. (Sanctuary)