Duane Allman’s Daughter Galadrielle and the Skydog Box Set
Photo by John Gellman
INTERLUDE: DISC TWO 1968 – 1969
The second disc of Skydog is brimming full of classic Duane Allman performances from his period as a session man in Muscle Shoals, AL. It’s not just Duane’s playing that’s so captivating – it’s the range of his playing and all the different styles he easily melds with. These handpicked FAME Studio sessions are as much studies in Duane’s ear and attitude as they are his abilities.
BR: Again, it’s easy to lose track of how old Duane was back then. He was an in-demand session man at the age of what – 22? Forget the talent: how many people have the sort of maturity required to exist in an ever-changing situation like that?
GA: It’s true. And these things were usually cut in one or two run-throughs … with people he’d just met that day. Boz Scaggs told me that the session they did [when the classic “Loan Me A Dime” was recorded] was the first time they’d met – about an hour before they started to play! Which is incredible, because the music sounds so personal and developed.
Duane had the gift of being able to just walk into the room, shake hands with everybody, set up, and then let it rip! (laughter)
It’s humbling to me … I just don’t know where that comes from, that kind of confidence.
I think Duane was the greatest horn man that ever played a guitar.
(laughs) That’s a great way to put it. Much of his inspiration came from jazz horn players, for sure. And I think Jaimoe was the one who brought that music out of him.
When my father was playing at FAME, Jaimoe came down to check him out and see what all the buzz was about. They started jamming in whatever room wasn’t being used at the studio. Berry was there, also – they became a trio … a tiny seed of what became The Allman Brothers Band.
This has nothing to do with the music, except I believe it was a photo taken at FAME. On page 43 of the Skydog booklet, there’s this great shot of your dad – it’s black and white, but I’m guessing that’s a pretty wild-colored print on his shirt, which might have clashed with the pattern on his guitar strap … (laughter) … and a big ol’ honkin’ neckerchief and a pair of massive studio headphones clamped to his head. It’s the expression on his face that I love: his eyes are squeezed shut and his mouth is wide open as he digs into a note – a look of sheer bliss.
(laughs) I’ve actually had it for quite a while and you’re right: it is a great picture. Stephen Paley took that – a lot of the photos in the book are by him. He really did capture some incredible moments. I bet [Allman Brother archivist] E.J. Devokaitis knows what session that was and who he was playing with that day – just by tracking his clothes.
Oh, I bet. (laughter)
INTERLUDE: DISC THREE 1968 – 1969
Disc Three of Skydog documents Duane’s brief stint as a solo artist, along with more Muscle Shoals session work – including the soul-wrenching “Loan Me A Dime” recorded by Boz Scaggs in May of 1969. It ends with the opening tracks off The Allman Brothers’ self-titled debut.
BR: The solo tunes “No Money Down” and “Happily Married Man” are good-time romps and the vocals fit the mood … they’re just plain goofy and fun. But “Goin’ Down Slow” has some fine, fine blues singing by Duane.
GA: Absolutely. It’s interesting, as I think he got teased a lot for his singing voice, but he had really great phrasing and emotion … that’s a very moving performance. In the early bands, he and Gregg traded off singing a lot. And Gregg also played guitar … eventually it became clear who did what the best, I guess.
That one-two punch of “Don’t Want You No More” into “It’s Not My Cross To Bear” was the world’s introduction to the Allman Brothers on record. What do you feel when you listen to it today?
Oh, I love those two songs so much – and how they move into each other. I’m pretty sure from talking to Butch that those are the first songs they worked up together – in their first jams before they were even a band. The pairing of those two songs is interesting: a blues standard with their own spin on it blended with a song that Gregg had written. It’s a nice start to the vision of what they wanted the band to be.
No question about it: a few moments in, you know this is more than just another blues band.
I feel like even coming out of the Boz Scaggs material on that disc – which is incredibly strong and powerful – there’s something about the Brothers that you can really feel … how they’re free to stretch out and how they’re supporting each other to explore and create this new and different sound.
Between the end of Disc Three and the beginning of Disc Four, you have the debut album in its entirety, which is a great move, I think.
It’s powerful music. Gregg wrote the originals in one big creative explosion.
INTERLUDE: DISC FOUR 1969
Even after The Allman Brothers formed, Duane still made time for session work, as documented on Disc Four. From the raw-boned rockabilly soul of Ronnie Hawkins to the packaged pop of Lulu, Duane Allman found his place in every session and contributed to each song’s soul. His work on John Hammond’s “Southern Fried” album is a window into what could have been a great musical pairing in years to come, had fate allowed it.
BR: The cuts with Ronnie Hawkins are a hoot. He’s like a character out of a big ol’ rock ‘n’ roll comic book or something.
GA: (laughs) It’s true. I’m sure that was a big, fun rocking session.
I’d never heard the Lulu material before.
I was surprised at how well those held up, actually. It would be easy to think of them as novelties, but there really is some incredible playing there that captures the mood of the times, you know?
It’s so easy to imagine that Duane and John Hammond would’ve done a lot of projects in the years to come if the opportunity had been there. The two of them were naturals together.
I believe that’s true. The two of them were so well-suited to each other. Duane spent some time with John at his home just before he died; I think they definitely would’ve made some more music.
They had the same love of the music … I don’t think Duane loved anything more than to hang out with players who felt that same way – to exchange ideas and feed each other.