The Road Goes On Forever

The Allman Brothers Band

Capricorn Records, 1975

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Because I get so wrapped up in trying to listen to new artists (as well as trying to shear down the size of the "to be reviewed" pile in the Pierce Memorial Archives' inbox), I often find that I've been neglecting some artists whose work I've collected over the years and I still enjoy listening to. I could easily take a day, dig out all the albums from one particular group, and just wallow away the sunshine with my music, a big bag of Cheetos and a two-liter of Pepsi. (Advertising graft from the brand names previously mentioned graciously accepted.)

One such group I haven't listened to in a long while is The Allman Brothers Band. I remember the sheer joy I experienced when I listened to their box set Dreams for the first time, and how I quickly discovered there was more to this band than just their classic album Eat A Peach. Regrettably, I don't have the time or the bag of Cheetos to indulge a complete review of their discography, so we'll settle for their out-of-print best-of from 1975, The Road Goes On Forever.

A compilation of 17 tracks (only one of which was a certified "hit" on the radio at that time), this two-record set is an excellent primer for someone who is interested in discovering who The Allman Brothers Band were in the first half of the '70s. While numerous other greatest hits packages have come out in recent years, this collection could be the best thought-out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Pretty much staying in chronological order, The Road Goes On Forever allows the listener to hear the progression of Gregg and the late Duane Allman from a heavy blues influence to a country rock band of the highest caliber. While there is sure to be debate over why certain songs were not included on this set ("In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" comes to my mind), there is something for everyone on this set.

One listen to the bass line on "Dreams" and its step-like rhythm and you'll have a hard time getting it out of your head. Berry Oakley (the second member of the band to die under tragic circumstances) was a premier bassist who knew both his role in the music and how to make the most out of every note. (No disrespect meant to the family of the late Lamar Williams, who took over the bass after Oakley's death in a motorcycle accident.) The interplay between Gregg Allman's keyboard work and vocals, as well as the guitar work of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, is something that you can appreciate almost immediately.

The inclusion of live material from The Allman Brothers At Fillmore East is a nice treat, and proves to the listener how good this outfit was onstage in their heyday. The renditions of "Statesboro Blues," "One Way Out" and "Stormy Monday" (which might have been left off a CD reissue - bad move) are powerful testaments to the band.

The best moments for me on The Road Goes On Forever - besides hearing "Ramblin' Man" for the umpteenth time and not getting tired of it - are some of the more gentle moments the band produced. "Blue Sky" is still a favorite of mine, while "Jessica" is an instrumental that will have your foot tapping so hard it will look like you're having muscle spasms. But the true moments of glory come on "Melissa" (which is delivered tenderly by Gregg Allman) and the instrumental "Little Martha", which closes out the album. This last track is a poignant reminder of the talent the world lost in 1971 with Duane Allman's death, and I could not think of a finer tribute to him than allowing this guitar duet to close the album.

At last count, there are about a half dozen "best-of" sets for the Allman Brothers Band examining several incarnations of the band, but The Road Goes On Forever sticks out as the first, and quite possibly, the best of the bunch. This is a record you're going to have to do some searching for, but you'll know it's worth it as soon as you drop the stylus onto the vinyl.

Rating: A

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capricorn Records, and is used for informational purposes only.