The Allman Brothers Band were among the pioneers of what would become the southern rock genre. What they did was combine blues, hard rock, consummate songwriting, and some astonishingly creative virtuoso musicianship. They never allowed themselves to be reined in by genre constraints, in doing so fashioned timeless, influential songs.
10) In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
A jazz oriented instrumental written by Betts for the Idlewild South album. He named it after a headstone he saw in a graveyard in Macon, Georgia. While the studio version is confident and intricate, it was the live rendition on At Fillmore East when the composition came into its own.
9) Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
Written by Gregg Allman and featured on the Eat A Peach album, this was specifically written for his late brother, although Gregg had begun to compose it while Duane was still alive, dealing with returning Vietnam vets. It has a lean, mournful refrain that benefits enormously from being just three minutes long.
8) Good Clean Fun
The band’s only chart topping single in America, it was written by Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts and Johnny Neal. Also featured on the album Seven Turns, this was a welcome return to the type of harmonic guitar sound which had been such a crucial part of their sound in the early years.
7) Blue Sky
Written by Betts for Eat A Peach, this was also the first song where he handled the lead vocals. Inspired by his girlfriend, the track is also the last one on which Duane Allman played. His performance is a remarkable mix of sadness and gentility, giving this an extra frisson.
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This was first recorded by Duane and Gregg Allman as a demo in 1967. When Duane died in 71, Gregg played it at the funeral as his brother loved the song. It was then decided to record this for Eat A Peach. Dickey Betts’ guitar solo here gave the ballad an extra dimension.
5) Statesboro Blues
A song written by Blind Willie McTell in 1928, this has been recorded by a lot of artists. However, the version done by the Allmans for At Fillmore East is regarded as the best. Duane Allman’s stunning slide guitar work lifted this rendition into a thrilling class of its own.
4) Midnight Rider
Featuring an acoustic guitar, congas and swelling organ, this was written by Gregg Allman with help from roadie Kim Payne. Once the song was completed, Allman broke into the studio during the night to record it for Idlewild South. The lyrics have the desperation of traditional blues, but it has an overall stylish power.
3) Whipping Post
An early Gregg Allman composition, this was lyrically highly emotive, talking about the struggles to make an impact as a musician. This was written quickly to fill in a hole on the band’s debut album. But it was live when it came into its own, allowing for a breathtaking panorama.
This instrumental was written by Betts and named after his daughter. Musically, it’s a tribute to gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. There’s a bouncy, vibrant attitude created to reflect the upbeat mood. While the version on the Brothers And Sisters album is nearly eight minutes’ long, an edited single edition was also done.
1) Ramblin’ Man
Perhaps the band’s most popular song, it was originally thought to be too country oriented for the band. However, they persisted with it, eventually recording the song for Brothers And Sisters. Betts’ vocals were a little more mainstream than Gregg Allman’s, while there was an iconic guitar jam at the conclusion.