My brother and I were recently debating the whole “Southern Rock” thing as we drove through Brooklyn record shopping. His tastes run along the classic, laid back chill rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker band typify; I run more Little Feat (basically give me anything with Lowell George). But one band we could both agree on was The Allman Brothers, and when it came to naming an album we both immediately agreed on Brothers and Sisters. With one foot firmly planted in southern country there’s enough blues and rock to keep anyone happy, even if “Ramblin’ Man” wasn’t on it.
I think “Ramblin’ Man” is probably the song that comes to most people’s minds when they think of The Allman Brothers, but what surprised me on re-listening to Brothers and Sisters for this project was how strong the rest of the album is. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the shine’s come off “Ramblin’ Man” a bit, at least until the extended solo sequences between Dickey Betts and Les Dudek take a stranglehold on me. But the combo of “Come and Go Blues” and “Jelly Jelly” are fantastic; blues-packed and soulful thanks to Greg Allman’s vocals. The second side of the album kicks off with another rocker in “Southbound” before jumping into perhaps one of the most recognizable instrumentals in rock history. Unlike “Ramblin’ Man” I can still get 100% behind “Jennifer” with its harmonized melodies and extended breaks into the heavens of rock and roll.
I had always been familiar with the Allman Brothers from classic rock radio as a kid, but I don’t think I really invested any time into them until watching the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous. There was a short documentary on the DVD about Cameron Crowe’s music choices for the film, and he talked at length about Brothers and Sisters (as well as Joni Mitchell’s Blue, another incredible album we’ll get to at some point). Soon after watching that I picked up the remastered CD and the album’s been a semi-constant companion for me ever since.