An Anthology

Duane Allman

Island Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Once upon a time, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Duane Allman at number two on their list of The Top 100 Greatest Guitarists, right behind Jimi Hendrix and just ahead of Eric Clapton.

Allman died at the age of 24 in a motorcycle accident in 1971. He is best remembered for fronting The Allman Brothers and for his improvisational guitar work, which propelled the group into one of the premier rock bands in the world during the late 1960s.

An Anthology, originally issued in 1972, remains the best quick introduction to his career. It chronicles not only some of his work with the Allman Brothers but also includes many of the highlights of his session work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As a teenager, he was the lead guitarist for Hour Glass, who issued two albums that were unsuccessful commercially but contained elements that would come to fruition with the Allman Brothers. Contained here is an unreleased demo from the period known as the “B.B. King Medley.” Allman brings a raw excitement and energy to three King Classics.

It was his work as a session guitarist for the Atlantic label that provides the foundation for this album and a learning curve for his early career. Allman does not waste a note as he gets funky on “Hey Jude” with vocalist Wilson Pickett. He is just as good on Clarence Carter’s “The Road Of Love.” A cut below is his work with Aretha Franklin on “The Weight” and his trading of notes with King Curtis on “Games People Play.”

Boz Scaggs had just left the Steve Miller Band; “Loan Me A Dime” was from his first solo album and is a 13-minute extended jam with Allman taking the lead throughout. He may be a little sloppy in places, but the technique is impeccable.

There is a duet with Eric Clapton of the old Walter Jacobs blues piece “Mean Old World,” which is a prelude to a version of “Layla” by Derek & The Dominoes, which finds Clapton and Allman in full rock mode.

The album ends with five songs by the Allman Brothers. The often overlook “Dreams” from their first album finds his guitar work both elegant and refined as it builds and ebbs for seven blissful minutes.

The album ends with the acoustic “Little Martha,” which may have been a thruway piece at the time of its recording but today is a nostalgic look at what might have been.

An Anthology will never replace his classic work with the Allman Brothers but its  patchwork approach presents a guitar genius in a number of settings and remains relevant nearly 50 years after his death.

Rating: B+

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