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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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Friday, December 13, 2013

Rounder Records: Skydog The Duane Allman Retrospective: additional review and commentary

A few months ago I did a review of the new Rounder release, Skydog The Duane Allman Retrospective. At the time I had a digital stream of the release to listen to and did my best to review the music without the tactile cover and notes. I now have the real deal and I want to elaborate on my original commentary. First, if you don't already know, much of the reason I am so interested in the blues comes from my introduction to Skydog's music at a young age. It became a pursuit to chase down every track that he played on, every loose concert that I could find, every magazine article ... everything. Duane Allman was just a step behind the Brits in discovering the American blues and processing it for young audiences to hear, likely for the first time. He took a totally different route and approach than Clapton, Beck, Simmonds, Mayall, Page, Green, Stones and all of the fathers of the British explosion in bringing the music to the new listeners. Each of these artists came to the blues from listening to older race records imported in small quantities to the UK and were mostly introduced by a small group of related music heads. Duane was much influenced by the current R&B scene in America, only being introduced to actual blues music as he became more involved with the music. Duane seemed to have the music inside of him and although not a terrific singer, found a way to get the music out, mimicking the voice that he heard to his guitar strings. His interest in music was so diverse that he was just as capable of playing for you a set of top 40 "pop" hits, soul and R&B tracks or a Miles or Coltrane improvisation. He lived to make music. The book that is included with the original 7 CD set has not only 11 pages of liner notes from Scott Schinder and an additional 8 pages of impressions from Galadrielle Allman, Duane's child who has additional insights. 42 photographs document Allman's career and some photos with Duane playing a Strat or Tele seem strange knowing Skydog as a Gibson man, but it's that expression of exuberance, even while playing in the studio that separated Duane from the rest. It wasn't that Duane was a better guitar player than his peers. It wasn't that Duane knew more about music than his peers. It was Duane's sheer joy in making music and his ability to bring out the best in others while contributing something that was totally Duane at the same time. Duane need only play a few notes to let you know he was there. His undeniable riffs and fat tone were unparallelled.  When Jimi was creating distortion and experimenting with blues/rock fusion, Eric was blending blues riffs on rock beats and Beck was making mind blowing sounds on the heavy side of Blues/rock and there was Duane sitting in the pocket, blending the soulful sounds of R&B and soul with the blues, making his guitar sing with a fat, saxophone like voice that no one had ever heard. Duane was an amazing young man and he changed the way that America (and the world) looked at blues music. Revisiting his recordings shows just how versatile he was and how each session influenced his personal playing style. He is attributed with starting the southern rock sound (and maybe the Allmans did) but it was his ability to coax a unique voice from his guitar and sing to blues that created the wave. It was the recognition by the music world that this young man could add warmth and depth to an already cool recording that gave him the exposure. Let's face it, Aretha and Pickett could have anyone they wanted to play on their recordings. Duane wasn't just any session player. He was "the" session player. He wasn't just the leader of the Allmans... he "was" the Allmans. Duane played with a lot of extremely talented players and I believe that he captured the respect of each and every one that he played with. He was a casual guy, but there was nothing casual about his music. It was Duane.

This is a terrific set of music and documentation. It is a very cool recollection of the music played by Duane Allman. You have a chance to buy it. Do yourself a favor.

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