Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

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Prolific Athens-based experimentalists Je Suis France are releasing their most ambitious record to date today, following the band’s sharing its first fizzling, thrashy-trashy cut, “House Style,” . Unlike the band’s latter records, Back to the Basics of Love wasn’t written in a constant flux or hashed out between slow internet connections. The record was the product of all of the members of the band coming together from their half-dozen separate cities and communities, and letting their creativity sync up in unison for the first time since 2003’s Fantastic Area.

Je Suis France doesn’t have an off switch. Back to the Basics of Love, which comes out this November from the Ernest Jenning Record Co., will be their seventh official full-length album, but they’ve also released dozens of digital releases and CD-Rs stretching back to the early ‘00s. The band, which first came together in Athens, Georgia, in the ‘90s, has prepared a new release for almost every show they’ve played since 2004. Despite that long history of experimentation, Back to the Basics of Love has all the energy and urgency of a debut from a band that’s 20 years younger. It’s a record that sounds like it could’ve come out in the 1990s, the 2000s, or the 2010s, but that couldn’t have existed at any point other than now.

Je Suis France – House Style – from the album Back To The Basics Of Love

Atlanta misfits, The Black Lips join forces with independent record label Fire Records revealing first track ‘Odelia’ from new album coming early 2020.

Twenty years into their career the exuberant quintet are currently touring across the US and head over to Europe for an extensive tour this November.
A powerhouse of angst wrapped in traditional melodies, it’s a wild rumble fusing their musical journey from garage rock, punk and psychedelia into a mind-blowing hybrid of cosmic broken country, fragmented Paisley Pop and heart-on-the-sleeve back porch reportage, all delivered with vengeance in their eyes.

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What Black Lips do so well is tease the horror out of wholesomeness and recast golden-age rock’n’roll in a strange, discomforting light” Pitchfork

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Returning to their roots, Black Lips headed into Laurel Canyon’s newly reopened legendary Valentine Recording Studios recording studio, and with the help of engineer and co-producer, Nicolas Jodoin, they recorded direct to 2″ tape. New single ‘Odelia’ will be available digitally from 17th October with news of their ninth studio album to be revealed imminently.

released October 17th, 2019

Iconic alternative rock band R.E.M. has shared a previously unreleased song, “Fascinating,” an unreleased song from R.E.M. out  with all proceeds going benefit global organization Mercy Corps’ Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Band members Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe recorded “Fascinating” in 2004 at Nassau’s Compass Point Studios

“Fascinating” was originally recorded for the 2001 album “Reveal”, but “it made the record too long… and something had to go,” Mike Mills says. This 2004 version — an ornate ballad with twinkly electronics, an oboe and flute arrangement and a psychedelic climax — was made at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas.

In fact, was singer Michael Stipe’s favorite song from the Reveal sessions (according to guitarist Peter Buck’s recollection, as chronicled in David Buckley’s R.E.M. biography, Fiction). The song was produced by Pat McCarthy and engineered by Jamie Candiloro. “It’s really beautiful,” bassist/keyboardist Mike Mills told Buckley. “It has a flute, oboe arrangement, but it made the record too long… and something had to go.” R.E.M. rerecorded the track in Nassau for 2004’s Around the Sun, but the lush ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album. Now this poignant outtake finally finds its fitting moment, as a means to aid the country where R.E.M. enjoyed over two months of creative retreat.

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“We first became aware of Mercy Corps around the time of Hurricane Katrina, and we supported their efforts to help in that situation,” says Mills . “I spend a lot of time every year in the Abaco Islands, which was literally ground zero for this disaster. I know a lot of people who lost everything — their homes, their businesses, literally everything they own is gone.”

“I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there,” Mills continues. “It breaks my heart to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian. Please help us and Mercy Corps do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by this catastrophe.”

The B-52’s were ’70s punks molded not from the syringes and leather of New York City, but from the campy detritus you might have found in the thrift stores and garage sales of their home of Athens, Ga.: bright clothes, toy pianos, old issues of Vogue, tall wigs and discarded vinyl. They channeled spy soundtracks, exotica, surf music, long-abandoned dance crazes and garage rock — music that was gathering dust by their 1979 self-titled debut LP. Much of it (alongside their obsessions with Yoko Ono and the Velvet Underground) would reveal itself as bedrock of alternative culture years later.

The B-52’s were a clash of sounds that help bring punk to the suburban kids more likely to watch “Saturday Night Live” than visit CBGB: Fred Schneider’s sing-shout poetry, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson’s alien girl-group harmonies, Ricky Wilson’s tricky guitar riffs and Keith Strickland’s art-funky drums. Even demographically they were nothing like the new world of new wave being built by Talking Heads and Devo: 40 percent female, 60 percent Southern, and 100 percent fun.

“We didn’t have a goal of what we wanted to sound like when we started out,” says Keith Strickland, the multi-instrumentalist behind some of the B-52’s’ biggest hits. “We just knew we wanted it to be fun.”

Since springing out of Athens, Georgia, in the mid-Seventies, the group has always been the quintessential party band. Songs like “Rock Lobster,” “Dance This Mess Around” and “Love Shack” are indeed fun, thanks to singer Fred Schneider’s hilarious recitatives, fellow vocalists Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s heaven-reaching harmonies, and the fusion of beach rock, Motown, girl groups, and ebulliently experimental jamming that Strickland and founding guitarist Ricky Wilson whipped up. They were improbable hit-makers, scoring Top Five singles and gold and platinum plaques while waving a flag for gay pride and singing the silliest lyrics possible. “Why don’t you dance with me? I’m not no limburger,” goes “Dance This Mess Around,” while “Rock Lobster” finds Pierson and Cindy going full Yoko Ono while making up sounds for jellyfish, narwhal, sea robins and bikini whales.

This summer, the B-52’s have been celebrating their history on tour, both solo and as part of a package with Culture Club and the Thompson Twins. Although the lineup has changed over the years – Ricky Wilson died of AIDS in 1985, shaking the band to its core, and Strickland retired from the road in 2012 – they’ve never lost the party spirit that defined the group when it was straddling punk and New Wave in the early Eighties. They haven’t put out an album since 2008’s Funplex(and likely won’t do another) but they know what their fans want from a B-52’s concert.

“We just have to play ‘Rock Lobster’ and ‘Love Shack,’ ‘Planet Claire’ and ‘Roam,’” the perennially redheaded Pierson says. “For our own benefit, we’ve added [Bouncing Off the Satellites] ‘Wig’ to the lineup, and we’ve never had so much fun playing that. Sometimes that’s a song people don’t know as well, but people seem to really enjoy it.”

The four surviving B-52’s took some time to reflect on the wild times that fueled their early success. Here’s an oral history of how the band, which formed after a night of drinking “flaming volcanos” at an Athens Chinese joint in 1976, took off.

Keith Strickland: Ricky and I had known each other since high school. When I met him, he had a 4-track tape recorder and had already recorded some songs just on guitar. They were amazing. He’d learned folk guitar. Then he and I started playing together. When we got more serious, I moved to drums.

Kate Pierson: Fred and Keith used to get stoned and do poetry and play. And I had been in a band in high school, and Cindy was singing with Ricky. So we all had sort of played with each other. One night we just started jamming after going out and drinking these flaming-volcano drinks, and that became the template of the band. Most of our songs came from jamming together.

Fred Schneider: We liked all music: James Brown, Motown, the Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono, the Beatles, Perez Prado mambo – we played everything, especially anything to dance to. Our goal, I guess, was to be a dance band, so we didn’t really have ballads in the beginning.

Strickland: We were listening to really campy sci-fi soundtracks. Fred is a vinyl collector. He’d find these great, old records. Ricky and I were really into Captain Beefheart. We also loved Joni Mitchell. You wouldn’t hear it, but she was a big influence on us, at least in terms of open tunings and the harmonies and chords she’d use. Our feeling was if it sounds good, it is good. So we put that freedom into writing. We felt like we could do anything.

Pierson: The inspiration for our vocal harmonies was sort of Appalachian. It’s sort of at weird intervals and it almost has an Appalachian kind of feel to it. The harmonies were really spontaneous. And the way we jammed, we would just get into a trance. Almost like automatic writing, this collective unconscious would take over and sometimes we’d be singing all at once. We’d listen back to the tape and seek out the best parts and patch them together in a collage. I might be doing the high part and Cindy does the low part, but then we would switch. On “Roam,” we crossed over in the highs and lows

Cindy Wilson: Ricky and I were living together at one point after he came back from hitchhiking all around Europe. We were working at a luncheonette counter [laughs]. I came to work one day, and Ricky was playing music on his guitar, just snickering. He played me the riff that turned out to be “Rock Lobster,” and it was hilarious. He was just trying to be funny. His guitar style made it moodier and it really is a driving song, but it does have that funny humor to it.

Schneider: I went to this disco in Atlanta called the 2001 Disco. Instead of a light show, they had pictures of puppies, babies, hamburgers and lobsters on a grill. And I thought, “Rock Lobster,” that’s a good idea for a song and probably no one else would.” I told everyone I had the idea, and we started jamming on it. The lyrics got weirder and weirder. I used to live on the Jersey shore, because I’m from New Jersey, so you would constantly hear “Pass the butter, please” on the radio, which was tanning butter [laughs]. I would do that and the gals came up with those wild fish noises. Cindy let loose with her tribute to Yoko.

The B-52’s’ debut single would remain their biggest hit until they invited everyone to the “Love Shack” a decade later. The ’79 smash is an unlikely blend of twangy Mosrite guitar, blooping Farfisa, beach-party-on-acid lyrics and an aquarium’s worth of creature noises. Cindy Wilson  said that she remembered her brother snickering and saying, “I just wrote the stupidest riff.”

Wilson: We tried to have these song paintings. It took a lot of work and a lot of rehearsal, because we weren’t reading music. It was very intricate. There were a lot of stops and starts and changes and weird harmonies that we came up with. When we do the shows, it sounds like we’re just having fun, but it really is labor intensive.

Strickland: We’d listen back and pick out different vocal parts for Kate and Cindy, and the lyrics they were singing. Ricky and I would write the music, and then Fred, Kate and Cindy would jam on top if it and we would record it. Then we’d piece it together.

Schneider: We would jam for hours. It would sometimes take a month or two to come up with a song. We’d record everything on reel, and Kate and Ricky would take them home and go through it and pick out parts. That’s why “Rock Lobster” was originally six minutes and 47 seconds long.

Pierson: I remember being in the house me and Cindy had rented in Athens and working on that song and “Planet Claire” and just jamming on fish sounds. Little did we know that the song would have the life and spark it had. That’s one of my favorite songs to perform, because we can still experiment. We can still jam on it live. It’s very spontaneous.

Strickland: Fred told his friend, Julia, that we had a band – and we didn’t really have a band yet – but she was having a Valentine’s Day party, and she said we could play at her party.

Pierson: There weren’t really places to play in Athens, so we had to play a party. There was a folk club, and it was kind of hippie music. The clubs were just emerging. We were just sort of an aloof group of artistically oriented friends, and we would crash parties together and drink beer and dance really crazy. We’d usually drive people off the dance floor .

Strickland: When we played the Valentine’s party, we were doing a different kind of music from the stuff everyone listened to – R&B like James Brown; Junior Walker and the All Stars; Earth, Wind & Fire – but it still had a backbeat. So we played this party and our friends loved it. We had so few songs that when we were done, they said, “Well, play them again.” We just repeated it all the way through and everybody kept dancing. We thought it’s pretty good if our friends liked it, because they’d be the first to say, “You suck.”

Pierson: We had to borrow the sound system. We placed it on a bookshelf. It was in this little house, and it shook. We wore these fake fur wigs that I found; it was this crazy pocket book made of fake fur and we turned them upside down. They were white, and made white Afros. Cindy and I wore those and we wore black and had some Barbie dolls on the ceiling. Keith wore this little red wig he dyed. We had five or six songs. I know we did “Planet Claire, “Devil in My Car,” “52 Girls,” “Rock Lobster,” “Lava” and maybe “Strobe Light.” Our friends loved it so much. They just danced so hard. The speakers were just rocking.

Strickland: So the tape had some conga, maybe some bass tones from the Farfisa organ and some second guitar; that we could play guitar with it and I played the congas. I wasn’t even playing drums.

Schneider: We all had jobs we didn’t like in the beginning. At the time, I was the mail delivery coordinator. Ricky worked at the bus station. Cindy worked at the Whirly-Q luncheonette. Kate worked at a local rag [the Athens Banner Herald]. So it was a hobby. We had to save up money to play anywhere.

Strickland: We started the band just to entertain ourselves.

Strickland: We had some friends in Atlanta who played in a band. They started playing New York at CBGBs and said, “You guys should play New York.”

Pierson: We sent a tape up there and CBGBs said no, but Max’s Kansas City said sure. So we drove up from Georgia, and it was like a 20-hour drive. We had this car we called Croydon, Cindy and Ricky’s parents’ station wagon. We’d stopped playing along with the tape by then.

Schneider: We were paralyzed with fear, because we had never played before anybody except our friends. I think only 17 people showed up. It was a Monday night in December, and I think two of the Cramps were there, Lux and Ivy. The curtain didn’t open, so I had to throw it open and all the other bands were dressed in black and we were like a rainbow congregation. We forgot to even ask if they wanted us back.

The B-52’s and the New York psychobilly brooders the Cramps both self-released their debut 7-inches in 1978 — the original recording of this beach blanket boogie served as the B-side to “Rock Lobster.” Together, the two bands were among the first to mix surf into the world of punk rock.

Pierson: On the first night, we didn’t have many songs. We didn’t realize it was kind of an audition night, and there were a lot of other bands on the bill. They asked us to cut the set short. We drove all the way from Georgia, and they said, “Can you play a couple of songs?” We played like 20 minutes or something and immediately left the stage. We put our stuff in the station wagon and drove straight back. But they called us and said they wanted us back.

Strickland: We were listening to the Talking Heads, Patti Smith, the Ramones and, of course, the Sex Pistols at the time. We didn’t really consider ourselves punk, but we knew that we were going to be a part of that. We didn’t really call ourselves “New Wave.” I remember we got called that when we started playing the clubs in New York for bands like us and the Cramps, because people were moving a little bit away from the punk thing and were just making songs [laughs].

Pierson: We blazed the path between Athens and New York for months. Each time we’d come back, we’d write more songs, rehearse like crazy and go back up. At one point, CBGBs said, “You can’t play both here and Max’s.” Then we started playing the Mudd Club and the Loft. I remember at the Loft, there was a huge line outside and Ricky looked out the window and said, “What’s that line out there?” We didn’t have any idea that the line around the block was for us. The place was so jammed and crowded. Ricky drank a lot because he was very nervous and shy. He was not gonna be able to play but [after he drank] he was on fire. He played great.

Strickland: So this thing was happening in New York and we were in the right place at the right time. A friend of ours, Danny Beard, created a label called DB Recs and we recorded our first single for him – “Rock Lobster” and the B side was “52 Girls” – and that sold really well, like 20,000 copies. So the labels got interested in us.

Pierson: We’d had a friend, who was our first manager, and she started getting offers from Red Star Records, and Virgin and Warner Bros. were interested. And she said, “Y’all, I don’t know what to do.” So we met our manager, Gary Kurfirst, through Tina [Weymouth] and Chris [Frantz] from the Talking Heads. He brokered the deal for us with Warner Bros. and Island Records.

Strickland: Our manager used to play that we were shy and he would do all the talking. We were rather quiet then. We’re all introverts except for Kate; Fred sometimes can be very shy. But when we get up onstage, we just go for it.

Wilson: I was shy, but Ricky was even shyer, until he got to know you. I think the music helps you get out of yourself.

Schneider: In the beginning Ricky would turn around onstage a lot. The band sort of looked at me to be the frontman, so I would tell bad jokes or I started a thing where I would get the audience to do a call-and-response thing. We became more outgoing over time. Plus, we smoked pot . That might have made us a little paranoid.

Pierson: We probably kept our mouths shut because we didn’t really know the music business. We thought, “It’s better to just not say much.” I don’t think we were shy so much as we were terrified. Especially when we did Saturday Night Live on live TV. We looked really animatronic because we were scared, but it came off as being this alien sort of attitude, which served us well, because people were like, “Whoa, this is so weird.” But we were just shy and terrified.

Schneider: Saturday Night Livewas nerve-racking. I was so sick to my stomach, but it went really well, and it put our record back on the charts. Eventually, it went platinum. Finding the Love Shack – “When You Opened the Door, It Was a Wild Band Playing”

Wilson: When Ricky passed [in 1985], it was just a horrible time. It was like an atom bomb going off. I think Keith dealt with the shock by doing music every day.

Strickland: After about two years, I told Cindy and Kate I had some music I had been working on and played it for them and then we started discussing the potential of working together again. And then we called Fred and said, “Do you want to do it?” He said, “Sure.”

Wilson: We got a rehearsal space in Manhattan in the Wall Street area. We were very serious about it. We would work for four days a week, and it came together pretty quickly. It was all about nostalgia. It was looking back at the good times we used to have in Athens, so it was a wonderful, healing record.

Schneider: The music became a little more funk, I guess. We wrote much faster.

Pierson: Keith would write the instrumentation and we would jam on that. We’d all get together and pick out parts and paste them together, then we would learn the parts. Sometimes we’d just play acoustic guitar and try out the parts and make a library. We’d use a double cassette player and make little edits.

Strickland: It took about a year to write Cosmic Thing. We spent a lot of time just talking, and we needed that. We were our own support group after Ricky’s passing, which was a very traumatic thing for all of us and, in particular, for Cindy.

Schneider: I had the idea for “Love Shack.” There was a place outside of Athens called the Hawaiian Ha-Le. It was an African-American club that had a lot of good shows. It looked like a shack, you wouldn’t expect it to be what it was, and when you opened the door, it was a wild band playing.

Wilson: It used to be this funky building with a tin roof that was old and rusty. They would have Soul Train lines. They just put a condemned sign on it, so it’s closed down.

Strickland: The funny thing about “Love Shack” is that we had decided what songs we wanted to do when we were meeting producers. We had already decided we were going to work with Nile Rodgers and Don Was. We played Don Was our demos, and he said, “Do you have anything else?” I said, “Well, we have this one other song, but it’s not finished.”

Pierson: We actually had a whole different version of it, and I remember Keith saying, “It’s not ready to put on the record.” Fred and I were like, “No, it’s gonna be a hit. We love it.”

Strickland: We almost didn’t play it for him, but we did and it was still rambling. Don said, “This is great. Just repeat this one part.” The part was, “The love shack is a little old place where we can get together … love shack, baby.” That had occurred only once in the original structure. So as soon as he picked that out, we thought, “That’s the chorus.” It’s like, “Voila.” It almost didn’t happen.

Pierson: That Motown feel really made it a party anthem, a regular hit at all your weddings and bar mitzvahs. It’s just got his infectious beat and you can’t help but dance to it.

Strickland: Another funny thing is we were recording the song at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, and there was a big electrical storm outside, and all the electricity went out. We were like, “No, no, no.” When we listened back, we had an awesome take, but it was only halfway done but it got cut off in the breakdown, kind of over a dropout. So we just picked it up right there and took the rest from a second tape. That song is all live except for one splice. We didn’t know if it was a hit when we finished it, but we felt there was something special about it.

Pierson: The radio [programmers] weren’t really enthusiastic about the song. Fred worked a lot of the indie stations promoting it, Loretta Lynn–style, like “My record is in the garbage can.” Then college radio really embraced it. Thank God for college radio.

Strickland: There was something magical about that album, how it all came together. We sequenced it in a way that we felt told a story. I don’t know if anybody’s ever noticed it, but one song leads into the other in a nice way. It tells a story from beginning to end.

The B-52s - The B-52's

The B-52’s Released Their Eponymous Amazeballs Debut LP 40 Years Ago, on 6th July 1979 a totally weird looking combo out of Athens, Georgia called THE B-52’s released their amazing self-titled debut long player. A wacky mix of retro dance-pop and surfy funk twisted upside down and wrapped up brilliantly as the new chic back then and still sounding damn hip today! A solid gold masterpiece, a bona fide classic.

Rolling Stone wrote: “The debut by the B-52’s sounds like a bunch of high school friends cramming all their running jokes, goofy sounds and private nicknames into a New Wave record. It turned out nobody could resist the band’s campy, arty funk, or the eccentric squeals and bouffant hairdos of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson

Even in the weird, quirky world of new wave and post-punk in the late ’70s, the B-52’s’ eponymous debut stood out as an original. Unabashed kitsch mavens at a time when their peers were either vulgar or stylish, the Athens quintet celebrated all the silliest aspects of pre-Beatles pop culture — bad hairdos, sci-fi nightmares, dance crazes, pastels, and anything else that sprung into their minds — to a skewed fusion of pop, surf, avant-garde, amateurish punk, and white funk. On paper, it sounds like a cerebral exercise, but it played like a party.

The jerky, angular funk was irresistibly danceable, winning over listeners dubious of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s high-pitched, shrill close harmonies and Fred Schneider’s campy, flamboyant vocalizing, pitched halfway between singing and speaking. It’s all great fun, but it wouldn’t have resonated throughout the years if the group hadn’t written such incredibly infectious, memorable tunes as “Planet Claire,” “Dance This Mess Around,” and, of course, their signature tune, “Rock Lobster.” These songs illustrated that the B-52’s’ adoration of camp culture wasn’t simply affectation — it was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture. It’s difficult to imagine the endless kitschy retro fads of the ’80s and ’90s without the B-52’s pointing the way, but The B-52’s isn’t simply an historic artifact — it’s a hell of a good time.

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Despite coming up in a Georgia scene that also spawned R.E.M. and the Black Crowes, and spending time on the road touring with Neil Young and Soul Asylum following the release of their successful 1991 album Fly Me Courageous, Drivin N Cryin are generally overlooked in the discussions of Southern rock. As this new vinyl reissue makes clear, they certainly deserve to be part of the conversation. The LP is a sparklingly remastered and renamed version of the group’s 1997 self-titled album, originally released on the little-known Ichiban International label. And what it reveals is a band that is comfortable working in the vein of cowpunk (“Paid In Full,” a stomping cover of John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane”), jangling power-pop and dreamy psychedelia as they are in muscular barroom rock. Beneath it all, front man Kevn Kinney’s bruised lyrical sensibilities prove to be the true heart of the group, capturing the desperation, thrills and weathered spirit of a born romantic.

Drivin N Cryin proved much more resilient than many of their peers as well, as the band is still going strong today and still releasing quality music. It’s well past time catch up with these rock lifers.

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released July 27th, 2018

The Allman Brothers Band an American rock band formed in Macon, Georgia, in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman (founder, slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, keyboards, songwriting), as well as Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson (drums). The band incorporated elements of blues, jazz, and country music, and their live shows featured jam band-style improvisation and instrumentals.

The group’s first two studio releases, The Allman Brothers Band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970) (both released by Capricorn Records), stalled commercially, but their 1971 live release, At Fillmore East, represented an artistic and commercial breakthrough. The album features extended renderings of their songs “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, “You Don’t Love Me” and “Whipping Post”, and is considered among one of the best live albums ever made.

Group leader Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident later that year – on October 29th, 1971, and the band dedicated Eat a Peach (1972) to his memory, a dual studio/live album that cemented the band’s popularity and featured Gregg Allman’s “Melissa” and Dickey Betts’s “Blue Sky”. Following the motorcycling death of bassist Berry Oakley exactly one year and 13 days later on November 11th, 1972, the group recruited keyboardist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams for 1973’s Brothers and Sisters.This album included Betts’s hit single “Ramblin’ Man”. These tunes went on to become classic rock radio staples, and placed the group at the forefront of 1970s rock music.

Their career began slowly, before At Fillmore East finally showed what the band could do. A wonder of power, precision and improvisational genius, the album changed the Allman Brothers Band’s profile forever.

In fact, the Allman Brothers Band scored their first and only ever No. 1 hit in the years following that tragedy. But 1973’s Brothers and Sisters was also their last platinum-selling project. The group broke up once, got back together and then began a lengthy hiatus in the early ’80s.

The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band (1969): 

This might be the best debut album ever delivered by an American blues band, a bold, powerful, hard-edged, soulful essay in electric blues with a native Southern ambience. Some lingering elements of the psychedelic era then drawing to a close can be found in “Dreams,” along with the template for the group’s on-stage workouts with “Whipping Post,” and a solid cover of Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More.” There isn’t a bad song here, and only the fact that the group did even better the next time out keeps this from getting the highest possible rating.

The group’s most overtly jazz-influenced song “Dreams” was part of a long string of early compositions Gregg Allman offered his fledgling bandmates . In fact, he was a dozen songs in before the Allman Brothers band decided “Dreams” would work. Unusually, Gregg Allman composed the song on the Hammond organ, instead of the preferred guitar or piano. Drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson’s library of old jazz records helped shape their approach, as they turned Allman’s blues haiku into a waltz-time meditation that traced the same musical lines as “All Blues” from Miles Davis’ groundbreaking Kind of Blue.

“When we were first putting a group together,” Duane Allman once said, “we were listening to Jefferson Airplane and the [Grateful] Dead’s records. We were all kicking around down South, buying records out of the Kmart and taking them home and digging them. And [Jaimoe] comes along and says, ‘Well that’s cool  good, but check out what I got over here, this collection.’ They just turned us all around. We heard with them cats were doing. Knocked us out.” “Dreams” is also the rare classic-era Allmans song featuring just one guitarist, as Duane offered a pair of brilliant solos over the band’s two-chord vamp.

The Allman Brothers Band - Idlewild South

Idlewild South (1970)

If you’re going to listen to the Allman Brothers, make sure you have the first four records. The band made The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, At Fillmore East, and three-fourths of Eat a Peach with its original lineup, before Duane Allman’s fatal motorcycle accident in 1971. The Tom Dowd-produced Idlewild South, their second album, comes off with a little less ferocity than their debut which is perhaps the result of reaching for new sounds the second time around. “Revival,” the album’s opener, introduces Dickey Betts as a composer. The countrified flavor of his songs gives an indication of where the band will head in the post-Duane era. Betts’ other contribution to Idlewild South is the instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” a centerpiece of the Fillmore East recordings. Gregg’s “Please Call Home” and “Midnight Rider” are built around piano and acoustic guitar, respectively, and have a different feel than the band’s usual twin Les Paul-and-Hammond sound. That sound is showcased in the balance of Gregg’s tunes, however: the funky blues of “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” (with Thom Doucette on harmonica) and “Leave My Blues at Home.” The album is also notable for the rollicking version of Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man,” with the only vocal bassist Berry Oakley (who died in a motorcycle accident one year after Duane) ever recorded with the group. Though overall it packs less punch than The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South is all the more impressive for its mixture of chunky grooves and sophisticated textures.

The first in a string of strikingly inventive instrumentals from Dickey Betts, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” quickly became one the group’s most recognizable songs. Betts was inspired by a doomed romance with a woman whom he was secretly meeting in a local graveyard. The guitarist liked to go there to compose, and that’s where he saw a headstone bearing the title of this moving, minor-key song. Betts had actually been playing in the same style for some time, working in a symbiotic fashion with the Allmans‘ late original bassist. “Berry Oakley and I inspired each other’s improvisational creativity while we were in Second Coming, the band that presaged the Allman Brothers,” Betts later told Guitar World. “One of our favorite things to do was to jam in minor keys, experimenting freely with the sounds of different minor modes. We allowed our ears to guide us, and this type of jamming served to inspire the writing of songs like ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.'” The track is driven by these brilliantly harmonized guitar lines, a sound that came to define the Allman Brothers Band. Betts’ interest in that approach didn’t come from listening to jazz, but instead to the Western swing of Bob Wills. By the way, he wrote “Blue Sky” in the same cemetery.

The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East

At Fillmore East (1971)

Whereas most great live rock albums are about energy, At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians’ interaction and playing. The great thing about that is, the original album that brought the Allmans so much acclaim is as notable for its clever studio editing as it is for its performances. Producer Tom Dowd skillfully trimmed some of the performances down to relatively concise running time (edits later restored on the double-disc set The Fillmore Concerts), at times condensing several performances into one track. Far from being a sacrilege, this tactic helps present the Allmans in their best light, since even if the music isn’t necessarily concise (three tracks run over ten minutes, with two in the 20-minute range), it does showcase the group’s terrific instrumental interplay, letting each member (but particularly guitarist Duane and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg) shine. Even after the release of the unedited concerts, this original double album remains the pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy.

“Whipping Post,” like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” had been earlier featured on Allman Brothers Band studio recordings but both found new meaning in this live setting. In fact, the 23-minute take from At Fillmore East is not only the definitive version, it’s the moment when Gregg Allman’s composing genius is confirmed. Still, this is truly a band triumph. Oakley completely rearranged the song which started out as another slow blues – into an unusual 11/8 meter that provides plenty of musical space for his bandmates to fill.

Dickey Betts and Duane then soar through another ribbon of harmonized, totally off-the-cuff guitar lines. (At one point late in the proceedings, Betts impishly quotes the children’s song “Frere Jacques.”) “We have rough arrangements, layouts of the songs, and then the solos are entirely up to each member of the band,” Duane once explained. “The naturalness of a spur-of-the-moment type of thing is what I consider the most valuable asset of our band.” And perhaps nowhere more so than on “Whipping Post,” which – quite fittingly – took up the entire closing side of the original Fillmore East vinyl release.

The Allman Brothers Band - Eat a Peach

‘Eat a Peach’ (1972): “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”

Inspired by the tragic death of his brother, Gregg Allman’s album-opening “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” offered a sturdy paean to perseverance. Betts – who Duane once praised by saying, “I’m the famous guitar player, but Dickey is the good one” seemed to be of a similar mindset as he stepped in on Allman’s preferred slide. The idea on Eat a Peach was to mix newly recorded songs like this one with some of Duane’s final recordings, making it both tribute and last testament to his genius. And for awhile, it sustained his heartbroken bandmates. “The music brought life back to us all,” Gregg said in his 2012 autobiography My Cross to Bear, “and it was simultaneously realized by every one of us. We found strength, vitality, newness, reason and belonging as we worked on finishing Eat a Peach.” Still, the prospect of touring nearly broke the band. Ultimately, they decided to go out as a five-piece. No one could replace Duane. Gregg and Oakley introduced the songs, which had also been his role. “We were playing for him,” drummer Butch Trucks said in One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, “and that was the way to be closest to him.” Oakley, who never got over the loss, died in a similar motorcycle crash a year later.

A tribute to the dearly departed Duane, Eat a Peach rambles through two albums, running through a side of new songs, recorded post-Duane, spending a full album on live cuts from the Fillmore East sessions, then offering a round of studio tracks Duane completed before his death. On the first side, they do suggest the mellowness of the Dickey Betts-led Brothers and Sisters, particularly on the lovely “Melissa,” and this stands in direct contrast with the monumental live cuts that dominate the album. They’re at the best on the punchier covers of “One Way Out” and “Trouble No More,” both proof of the group’s exceptional talents as a roadhouse blues-rock band, but Duane does get his needed showcase on “Mountain Jam,” a sprawling 33-minute jam that may feature a lot of great playing, but is certainly a little hard for anyone outside of diehards to sit through. Apart from that cut, the record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it’s hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of “Little Martha” conclude the record, since this tribute isn’t just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.

The Allman Brothers Band - Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and Sisters (1973)

Released a year after Eat a Peach, Brothers and Sisters shows off a leaner brand of musicianship, which, coupled with a pair of serious crowd-pleasers, “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica,” helped drive it to the top of the charts for a month and a half and to platinum record sales. This was the first album to feature the group’s new lineup, with Chuck Leavell on keyboards and Lamar Williams on bass, as well as Dickey Betts‘ emergence as a singer alongside Gregg Allman. The tracks appear on the album in the order in which they were recorded, and the first three, up through “Ramblin’ Man,” feature Berry Oakley their sound is rock-hard and crisp.

The subsequent songs with Williams have the bass buried in the mix, and an overall muddier sound. The interplay between Leavell and Betts is beautiful on some songs, and Betts‘ slide on “Pony Boy” is a dazzling showcase that surprised everybody. Despite its sales, Brothers and Sisters is not quite a classic album (although it was their best for the next 17 years), especially in the wake of the four that had appeared previously, but it served as a template for some killer stage performances, and it proved that the band could survive the deaths of two key members.

Dickey Betts had no intention of giving this country-rock gem to the Allman Brothers Band. But something about its searching narrative spoke to them in that moment. “I was going to send ‘Ramblin’ Man’ to Johnny Cash,” Betts told Guitar World. “I thought it was a great song for him. But everybody in our band liked that song.” Smart move: “Ramblin’ Man” became the only Allman Brothers Band single to reach the Billboard Top 10, streaking all the way to No. 2. The song also heralded a shift, both in leadership and musical style, toward Betts. The Allman Brothers Band somehow found a way to carry on, but not without help. Les Dudek guests on “Ramblin’ Man,” allowing the group to replicate their signature harmony leads. “We got into the studio and got into that big long jam at the end with all those guitar parts and everything, and we forgot about how country the song was,” Butch Trucks later said “then wouldn’t you know it — it becomes our only hit single.” That they would never be the same was reflected in the decision to expand their official lineup with pianist Chuck Leavell as a second soloist, rather than another guitarist. “Ramblin’ Man” was also the last song recorded with Berry Oakley.

  • The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
  • Idlewild South (1970)
  • At Fillmore East (1971)
  • Eat a Peach (1972)
  • Brothers and Sisters (1973)

Rose Hotel is not a hotel at all. It’s a band. But that doesn’t mean that their tunes won’t make you dream, with their lo-fi, bedroom indie-pop sound.

Rose Hotel, aka Atlanta-based musician Jordan Reynolds, specializes in dream pop that won’t put you to sleep. “Write Home,” an enchanting bedroom piece that quickly evolves into a spacey, twang-tinged jam, was the third and final tune to arrive before the record, and it’s perhaps the most arresting. It’s a miraculous mix of psych-rock, pop and jazz that shouldn’t work, but Reynolds and her band (made up of other ATL aces from groups like Material Girls, Neighbor Lady, Karaoke and Palm Sunday) knit them all tightly together for a full, bold sound. The warped guitars and hurried drums sound like Aussie psych; the relaxed trumpet and pedal steel like a fusion of early blues and jazz.

Rose Hotel’s debut full-length record “I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes” is out May 31st, 2019

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Tyler Lyle’s new record. The Native Genius of Desert Plants is a three-and-a-half year introspection that triumphantly sought out a level of understanding in the face of adversity. The album reflects not just on how to make sense of the trials and tribulations we face in life, but on those magic moments that manage to persevere suffering to make life not just livable but an enviable state of being.

In 2011 Tyler Lyle self released his indie-folk debut The Golden Age & The Silver Girl, which NPR’s World Café named one of the top 10 albums of 2011. ‘The Golden Age & The Silver Girl’ was a singular statement written as an effort at catharsis for Tyler over a break up that conjured up a lot of questions that he had not previously been forced to deal with. Fittingly, as Tyler cTyler’sompleted this effort at coming to terms with an event that had fundamentally changed him, he boarded a plane for Los Angeles the next day to start a new phase of his life.

If The Golden Age & The Silver Girl was about reckoning with one’s sadness, Tyler’s follow up, The Native Genius of Desert Plants, is about finally transitioning from dark to light. In contrast to the whirlwind period writing and recording his debut, Tyler was able to take his time to really find his voice on the new album, for which he wrote over 90 songs over four years. Now whittled down to 12 songs, the album maintains an element of eclecticism while speaking from a universal voice of hope and self-discovery.

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Ingrained in this record is the change in perspective that Tyler has developed during his time in Los Angeles. The darkness and cynicism that were largely present in the 25-year-old that moved out west in 2011 has largely dissipated in the 29-year-old man that will be releasing The Native Genius of Desert Plants. In  words “I found a story to tell. It can be read as dialectic, told from three different lenses, or as a narrative from darkness to light. It can also be read as one single question – one that I ask in earnest and I ask expecting an answer:

I’ve loved this song since it was introduced to me way when I first heard it back in 2017 as part of the first installment of his monthly Secret Lair project (it was then called “Floating Empire”, and it was good, . It was just Tyler and his acoustic guitar on that version, and this version adds only a few small, delicate, perfect touches and flourishes to what was already one of my favorite songs of his. We don’t know when his next full-length is coming, but it’s on the horizon and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it. This is a truly beautiful song and I wish I had something more poetic or profound to say about it. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Tyler’s carefully crafted lyrics speak for themselves.

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“When you find that you can neither go backwards nor forward…when you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird. The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were to busy searching elsewhere to realize it.” -Henry Miller
Another great song that highlights Tyler Lyle’s amazing talent as a singer, songwriter, lyricist. Apparently this is the acoustic version of the same song which will be on The Midnight’s next album.
Released February 20th, 2019