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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ruf Records artist: Devon Allman - Ragged & Dirty - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (October 14, 2014), Ragged & Dirty from Devon Allman and it's surprisingly good. Devon's uncle Duane was one of my absolute influences into music listening and everything Allman which was to follow has always been pale by comparison. Devon Allman has finally struck on something really special and I'm happy to be reviewing it. Pairing up with writer,producer Tom Hambridge has been a super decision and this music is a result. Opening with Half The Truth, a blues rocker with a Robert Johnson flavor but a fresh attack is really borrowing from the original Allman Brothers song book. They had a unique ability to take an original blues track and make it sound fresh. Hambridge and Allman have taken a brand new approach with a totally new song based upon a seasoned riff and come out on top. Allman has a really cool voice and a guitar voice all his own. Can't Lose 'em All has a funky rhythm and Allman, joined by Hambridge on drums, Felton Crews on bass, Giles Cory on guitar and Marty Sammon on B3 delivers a cool track. Now I will admit to hearing a taste of Allman Brothers phrasing in this track but it isn't a predominant theme. Leavin' finds Cory on acoustic guitar and Bobby Schneck Jr. on lead guitar. Allman and Hambridge harmonize nicely on vocals and Schneck skillfully slices his lead work throughout the track. I'll Be Around, made popular by the Spinners, keeps much of it's original R&B feel and Allman and backing vocalist Wendy Moten do a real nice job of covering this classic track. Allman takes a really nice clean guitar solo on this track with not even a tip of the hat to anything "Allman". Slick! One of my favorite tracks on the release, Traveling, has a swampy rock feel with Crews on bass and Allmans own guitar riffs nicely punctuating his vocals. Allman takes an extended guitar solo on this track and sounds fresh and expressive. Very nice. Instrumental track, Midnight Lake Michigan, penned by Allman is a bluesy exploration into his own soul via the guitar, joined by Hambridge, Crews and Sammon. Even though this track clocks in at over 9 minutes, it doesn't get tiresome or repetitive. Excellent! Ten Million Slaves has a particularly strong vocal lead with harmony vocals from Schneck. With an almost UK folk sound overlaid by a rock drive, this is an interesting track. Funky Blackjack Heartattack, another Allman composition, has a super rhythm and again Allman's vocal prowess lead the way. The band really shows it's control on this track where it almost seems as if Allman's vocals are solid and compressed and the band literally explodes around him. Really cool! Blues ballad, Back To You is really top notch. With some of the best writing on the release this track has it all. A dynamic guitar solo capping off the R&B sound with backing vocals from Hambridge and Moten, this track is hot! On Times Have Changed , Allman and Cory play twin guitar leads but with more of a Rossington/Collins flare than a Betts/Allman duo. A country rocker, Allman, Hambridge and Schneck blend nicely on vocal. Luther Allison's Ragged & Dirty is killer. Allman really digs in deep with his guitar riffs sounding more like Albert King than Duane Allman. Solid rhythm set up by Hambridge and rowdy singing from Allman makes this a sure choice for the title track. Wrapping the release is quiet folk rocker, Leave The City, with Allman on vocal and resonator and Hambridge on drums and xylophone. With the final track being more of a cool down than a crescendo, this is a really super release which deserves to cast it's own shadow.

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