They're known as the founding fathers of Southern rock, but the Allman Brothers were actually much more progressive than the musical school they inspired. They reclaimed the US-influenced blues-rock of Cream et al. and brought it back to America, adding country and jazz touches. They were noted for their improvisatory skills, particularly the inspired dual-guitar work of Dickey Betts and the late Duane Allman. Even after the deaths of Duane and original bassist Berry Oakey and the departure of Betts, the band soldiered on strongly into the 21st century, led by founding singer/organist Gregg Allman.
Their first full studio album without guitarist Duane, 1973's Brothers and Sisters doesn't match what came before it but would probably be considered a masterpiece if it came from most other bands. The Allman(s) move away from their rougher blues rock toward a groovier Southern rock, a shift that reflects the increased influence of Dickey Betts and new pianist Chuck Leavell. Betts contributes chestnuts such as "Ramblin' Man," "Southbound," and the classic instrumental "Jessica," plus the acoustic finale "Pony Boy," which showcases his work on Dobro. Gregg's impact is not nearly what it once was, although his "Come and Go Blues" and "Jelly Jelly" hit the mark. Original bassist Berry Oakley passed away during these sessions and is heard on just two cuts. --Marc Greilsamer
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