No record on earth is more associated with the beginnings of my love of music than The Allman Brothers’ Brothers and Sisters album. I became an Allman Brothers fan the very first time I heard Idlewild South (and specifically In Memory of Elizabeth Reed). Then when I heard At Fillmore East, I decided they were my favorite band (they’ve been neck and neck with the Grateful Dead pretty much ever since). The future was bright with the promise of new music until Duane Allman and Berry Oakley were killed in motorcycle accidents within about a year of each other.
When Brothers and Sisters was released after various delays, no one knew what to expect. What we got was an instant classic, with Dickey Betts moving easily onto center stage and Greg Allman sounding as soulful as ever. The record epitomizes southern rock and roll- it’s a soulful mix of rock, blues and country. It is not an overstatement to say that if there was a soundtrack to my youth, this would be it. When I listen to it, every single song reminds me of somebody I knew back then or some crazy thing we did. At one time or another during every stage of my life, I have rediscovered how much I love this record and created a new set of memories and associations. That’s what is happening now in my house. My kids are sick of hearing how incredible the opening of Southbound is; and how great the piano is in Come and Go Blues. When I saw the Dickey Betts concert on HDNet, I made them watch it with me (fantastic show; check it out).
There are 7 absolute classics on this record. The song most people know, Ramblin’ Man, while a great song, is no better than the 5th best song on the record, behind Wasted Words, Come and Go Blues, Southbound and Jessica. The other two songs (Jelly Jelly and Pony Boy) are also tens on a 10-scale.
I didn’t have this record on CD until a couple of weeks ago. I realized that it was crazy to have as much music as I do on my music server without having maybe the greatest rock and roll album of all time. So I bought the CD and have been listening to it non-stop ever since.
If there’s a song in the world that rocks better than Southbound (playing on my stereo right now), somebody point me to it.