“We were aware of what was going on in society but we were sheltered by the music,” explained Gregg Allman in autobiography My Cross To Bear, and it’s this detachment from the times which gives these records – dating from 1969’s Allman Brothers Band to 1973’s Brothers And Sisters – their staying power.
From the opening bars of their debut’s Don’t Want You No More it’s obvious this is a band apart, capable of mixing up stinging blues riffs and funky organ shuffles at will.
If 1970’s Idlewild South – named after their Macon farmhouse HQ – shows more subtlety in the songwriting, notably on Gregg’s sublime Midnight Rider and a heart-rending Please Call Home – it’s 1971 live set At Fillmore East which captures the Brothers at their high-flying best. With Duane Allman given free rein, their intuitive gift for unravelling a song means that even a 22-minute Whipping Post comes without an ounce of flab.
Partly recorded in the wake of Duane’s tragic death at just 24, 1972’s Eat A Peach remains superlative proof of music’s cathartic qualities, while Brothers, despite being a massive commercial hit, never matches it.
In keeping with the Allmans’ outlook, there’s no fuss or frills about this slipcase collection, but for under 25 quid it’s a great place to start a serious Allmans habit.