Today represents one of the most unexpected and enjoyable moments of this entire journey, from an album that wasn’t even supposed to be on my list. Yesterday, I saw a social media post highlighting the song “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, noting that it was released in 1973, the year we are currently surveying. I knew this album was not on my list, and was frankly a bit surprised. I was also surprised to realize that this song, as well as “Jessica”, on the album “Brothers and Sisters”, were both recorded after the death of band founder and legend Duane Allman.
Looking closely at the album, I realized I had to add this one to the list, even as a casual Allman Brothers fan, given the significance of those two songs. Somewhere I will take another album off the list, reduce my 2021 albums by one, or just go one day longer. No matter the approach, I dug into “Brothers and Sisters”, and what an absolutely phenomenal album this turned out to be.
Following the death of Duane Allman, guitarist and singer Dickey Betts took on a much more influential leadership role in the band, and was the driving force behind “Ramblin’ Man”, including assuming lead vocal duties. While I do appreciate “Ramblin’ Man” and love the instrumental track “Jessica”, it is the rest of this album, seven songs in total, that really blew me away. I can honestly say I loved all seven songs and will be adding each to my master playlist, a rare event for sure.
The album opens with the bluesy “Wasted Words”, a great combination of Gregg Allman’s vocals and Betts on guitar, and new bass player Lamar Williams also really shines on all of this record. The real treat begins with a three-song sequence of “Come and Go Blues”, “Jelly Jelly”, and “Southbound”. All three also feature Gregg on lead vocals, and each mixes a blend of funk, blues, and country rock in a really infectious manner that just jumps out the very first time you listen to these songs. Following “Jessica”, the album ends with one more song with Betts on lead vocals, “Pony Boy”, that closes the album with a really authentic southern blues closer.
While I’m mildly surprised that I missed this album in my original list, I’m beyond grateful I discovered this gem, one of my favorite finds through all of this music. It just inspires me to never stop searching, you just don’t know where that next great song or album is coming from next. I also have to give credit to the Allman Brothers Band, particularly Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman, on the heels of the double-tragedy of the passing of Duane Allman and original bassist Berry Oakley. This record is a symbol of resilience, talent, and southern celebration.