Lonely Day In L.A. (Complete KMET-FM Broadcast From 6th November 1974)
There’s really no denying that Gregg Allman was the great voice of southern rock – he had a white boy blues thing that was never cloying, didn’t feel like anything more than it was: A natural talent singing his soul through the spectre of his own deep love of soul and blues. And in the Allman Bros. story our sadness is always directed to the What Could He Have Been story for Duane; the Skydog dead by age 24.
He was a phenomenal talent. But Gregg kept the ship going, steering it through grief, adding his own organ and acoustic guitar sounds – and of course that wonderful voice.
There were solo albums too, there was the Gregg Allman Band and then the return of the Allmans – which carried on with Gregg until his death in 2017. He had a couple of sublime final solo records too. I feel, somehow, his own contributions are overlooked somewhat. It’s a sprawling legacy of the Allman band and the musicians connected to it, splintering off to many other jam bands and solo careers.
But in the early/mid-70s Gregg was taking tentative steps towards a solo career and his debut solo album Laid Back was released in 1973. There was an official live solo tour album the following year. And there are plenty of bootlegs to wade through with the Allmans.
Here’s a curio from the time of that first solo album and tour. This radio broadcast finds a very stoned Gregg (I’m sure there was almost no other version in 1973/4) rolling through a few songs from his solo record and the band’s catalogue for a live-to-air with the KMET-FM station. The album begins with the introduction and radio station tags, and a reminder that they agreed to not bootleg the appearance at all (Lol).
It’s a slow start with an ad-read accompanied by Allman’s wandering guitar and a few stoned tune-ups along the way. But when he gets going the voice is amazing and there’s something in his own accompaniment too – the guitar working to usher in the voice, knowing it must not get in the way.
Midnight Rider still manages its magical churning groove, even just with a bit of soft, sly guitar picking. Come & Go Blues feels so off the cuff but also so totally together. Again the glue is the vocal performance.
There’s a version of Catfish Blues that is actually wonderfully ponderous – his foot-tapping percussion comes and goes, his random wandering off to solo a weird delight. And from the main band’s catalogue he rolls through Melissa. It’s ramshackle but there’s forever something gorgeous about it. Forever something gorgeous about the gruffness, heart and pure soul in Allman’s vocal delivery.
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