Release Date: September 8, 2017
Faith inspires us to belive. And science proves our belief–that energy is never destroyed, it simply changes state. But that spark of life is never truly gone. It is a matter of truth that radio waves from our little blue and green dot in the vast cosmos keep on beaming out into the far reaches of space, perhaps for other civilizations to one day receive and enjoy or inspire them to look for life among the stars.
That is how I like to remember the music and life of Gregg Allman–as that spark of life that will never truly be gone, just a soul that has changed form but still sings to the universe. I am sure that on quiet southern nights I can hear his song in the gentle southern rain or hear his B-3 organ swirling among the sound of southern traffic going down Highway 41.
What you must understand is that I live and work in Macon, Georgia, and Gregg Allman is the closest thing we have to a Greek god. The sound of Gregg Allman and The Allman Brothers has defined a generation of music lovers that lived in Macon and the south in general during the late 60’s and through the 70’s. Those devotees have passed their love of that music on to pretty much everyone that calls Macon home. And why not? The music is truly amazing and the sound of Gregg Allman and The Allman Brothers is loved all over the world. I have the great privilege to know legendary producer Ross Hogarth who has worked for such artists as R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, Van Halen, Ziggy Marley, John Mellancamp and many more, and he has spent a lot of time chatting with me about his love of the music of Gregg Allman and the Brothers. I recently did an article for this very magazine about George Thorogood and he told me he is a fan of the Brothers as well. What’s more, I know that Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad (we share a publicist) waxed philosophical about Gregg’s leaving this earth in a recent issue of Billboard Magazine where he said, “he was a leader, an inventor…he had that voice that could take you there”!
Macon is home to the official Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association. I was a founding member and they bring people from all over the world to experience the official Allman Brother’s museum, called the Big House and Rose Hill, the resting place of Dwayne Allman, Barry Oakley and now Gregg Allman–all three members of the Allman Brothers band. For many, making the trek to Macon, Georgia, once a year to visit these places where the Brothers lived and made music is a religious experience and understandably so. There is something other worldly in the sounds of the Brothers and the emotions that their music invokes, and no doubt about it, Gregg Allman is an unequalled voice in American blues music!
My hometown of Macon, Georgia, is also home to artists like Little Richard, Otis Redding and Jason Aldean, but if people don’t know where Macon is on a map, they do know the music we have produced and most especially that of Gregg Allman!
I can tell you one more thing about Gregg Allman. Yes, he was a road warrior and a little wild at times–I mean, he was married to Cher! But he was also a gentle soul and a very friendly, down to earth person!
So, having the opportunity to talk about his final musical gift Southern Blood is an honor and privilege.
As the final curtain goes up on the last album, the first track “My Only True Friend” almost seems prescient as Gregg sings “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I am gone”. And we sure are haunted with this last masterpiece from one of the greats. Again, Gregg sings, “I’ve got so much left to give, but I’m running out of time my friend”. Gregg’s voice on this track is so beautifully melancholy it is hard to listen to at first, but once you get past the lump in your throat, it is an outstanding song that is full of the sounds he spent a lifetime crafting!
Moving deeper in to the album finds wonderful gems like the mandolin driven “Black Muddy River” and the blues riff rocker “Love Like Kerosene”.
The album ends on a somber note with “Song for Adam”. Here you can hear Gregg struggle with some of the vocal parts as all accounts say his health was poor during recording, but it really doesn’t matter if each note is perfect or not—because the soul of Gregg shines through like it has since he first took the stage all those years ago with his first major recording project the Allman Joys.
In the end, this album is an important collection of incredibly well written songs, masterful production by producer Don Was and the soul of the one and only eternal legend, Gregg Allman!