Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Albums of 1973: The Allman Brothers Band: Brothers and Sisters

 


Release Date: August 1973

Members: Gregg Allman (vocals, guitar); Dickie Betts (guitars, vocals); Berry Oakley (bass); Jai Johnny Johanson (percussion); Butch Trucks (percussion); Chuck Leavall (pianos, vocals); Lamar Williams (bass)

Produced by Johnny Sandlin

Side One: Wasted Words; Ramblin' Man; Come and Go Blues; Jelly Jelly

Side Two: Southbound; Jessica; Pony Boy

The Allman Brothers Band were recovering from the loss of two founding members of the group, Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley had both died in motorcycle accidents within a year of each other. With some lineup changes and a determination to continue on they recorded Brothers and Sisters through the summer of 1972. It was released a year later to high acclaim. 

"Wasted Words" opens the album on a rollicking note with its blend of blues, rock, and soul that pack a punch and highlights all aspects of the band. "Ramblin' Man" was written by Dickie Betts and became a hit single for the band, even though they were initially reluctant to record it believing it was too much of a departure from their signature sound. The lyrics present a Southern sojourn from one who's been everywhere and seen it all. "Come and Go Blues" was a Gregg Allman composition and achieves a more epic effect in its appraisal of a relationship. "Jelly Jelly" is more in the traditional blues and soul style and breaks into a slightly extended jam. 

Side two opens with two iconic jams: "Southbound" and "Jessica." Both written by Betts, "Southbound" is fueled by an erratic energy and "Jessica" has no lyrics and it doesn't require them, the music is expressive enough. Another Betts composition, "Pony Boy" closes the record. Inspired by Robert Johnson, channels traditional blues and ends the record on a homespun note.

A chaotic tour in 1973 would follow and as the decade progressed the band's output fell off with internal group conflicts and members pursuing their own projects. Brothers and Sisters finds the Allmans at the peak of their powers. 

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