Allman Brothers make strong comeback

Allman Brothers make strong comeback

By Caroline Rohner, Contributing Writer

The Allman Brothers have faced many hardships over the years, but they persevered and continue to make great music. Hittin’ the Note marks the band’s first studio album in nine years, an eternity in the music business. After taking such an extended break, you would think the guys would be a little rusty, but instead they sound stronger than ever.

The CD opens with their current single, “Firing Line,” a serious, but catchy rocker. This is followed by the slower “High Cost of Low Living,” which is enhanced by intelligent and self-reflective lyrics.

The album also features a couple of cover songs, including Freddy King’s “Woman Across the River” and the Rolling Stones penned “Heart of Stone.” Both tracks are expertly arranged and delivered, but don’t quite challenge the original versions.

Another standout is “Desdemona,” one of the most impressive tracks. This heartfelt tune balances flowing blues with lead singer Gregg Allman’s vulnerable vocals.

The band, however, reaches another level on its 12-minute marathon jam, “Instrumental Illness.” All of the musicians weave together seamlessly and continually accentuate each other. The group’s high degree of talent is apparent throughout the record, but most noticeable on this song.

It’s often said that a band has to live the blues before it can play the blues. In that case, the Allman Brothers are right at home in this genre of music. Over its three-decade career, the group has weathered tragic motorcycle accidents, alcoholism, lawsuit threats, and numerous personnel changes, just to name a few.

Fortunately, the group escapes the all-too-common blues rut, where every song is simply a variation of the previous one. The essential diversity is achieved by incorporating elements of rock and jazz.

The Allman Brothers are currently on tour and will play the Chicago Theatre July 29 and 30. Until then, pick up Hittin’ the Note, a virtuously flawless CD that any blues fan would love.

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