LISTEN: Gregg Allmans’ Sprawling Farewell Album Southern Blood

by Peter Wendel
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GreggAllmanSouthernBloodGregg Allman is gone, but in the final months of his life he returned to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and produced a farewell album worthy of his legendary 50-year recording career – a career that helped forge the completely unique Southern blues-rock sound of the Allman Brothers Band.

(Check out the “first listen” stream below from NPR.)

Gregg’s swan song, aptly titled Southern Blood, features a sprawling array of covers that are, in some way, tied to the artist’s life (and impending death) – like the Grateful Dead’s lonely, end-of-life ballad “Black Muddy River”; Little Feat’s “Willin’” that tells of a drug-smuggling trucker; and Willie Dixon’s self-indulgent “I Love the Life I Live,” which draws on Allman’s heavy blues influence and well-documented recreational excesses.

The only original song on Gregg’s farewell LP is “My Only True Friend,” a ballad that speaks to the artist’s devotion to the road and how that lifestyle can complicate personal relationships. But you and I both know the road is my only true friend…

GreggAllman3WikiThe album’s final track is in honor of Gregg’s older brother Duane, the original leader of the Allman Brothers Band, who died in 1971 at the age of 24. From NPR’s Jim Allen:

Allman ends the album with Jackson Browne’s ode to a fallen friend, “Song for Adam,” an overt evocation of his late brother Duane, who died from a motorcycle crash in 1971 as the Allman Brothers Band was approaching the peak of its popularity. Duane was Gregg’s hero, and it’s impossible to overstate the impact his passing had on his little brother. And in the final verse of this closing cut, Allman reportedly became too overcome with emotion to sing the lyrics: “When I stood myself behind, I never felt so strong / Still it seems he stopped singing in the middle of his song.

Listen to Gregg’s farewell album, Southern Blood, in its entirety here at NPR. The LP’s official release is September 8th.

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including Mountain Jam, The All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at PWendel@SongMango.com.

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