MAY 1977 (35 YEARS AGO)
The Gregg Allman Band: Playin’ Up a Storm is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Playin’ Up a Storm is an album by The Gregg Allman Band released in May, 1977 on the Capricorn Records label. It peaked at number 42 on the U.S. Pop Albums charts in 1977.
A year before, Gregg testified against Scooter Herring, his personal road manager, who charged with dealing narcotics. Herring was subsequently sentenced to 75 years in prison. Allman’s action, the others said, betrayed the fraternal loyalty that had sustained them: They vowed never to work with him again.
The members pursued separate but at times intertwining paths. Betts formed Great Southern, duplicating the original Allman Brothers line-up with two guitars, two drums, bass, keyboards, and vocals. The group’s first album charted in the Top 100. After Allman’s disastrous duet LP with Cher, he regrouped the Gregg Allman Band, with no help from any former Brothers, and put out “Playin’ Up a Storm”.
Allman brought in some top musicians for “Playin’ Up a Storm,” including Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, Bill Payne, George “Red” Callender, Milt Holland, Victor Feldman, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, and Venetta Fields.
Alas, in 1978, the Allman Brothers Band regrouped for the first time. After Allman, Trucks, and Johanson joined Betts and Great Southern onstage in New York in 1978, Great Southern guitarist Dan Toler and bassist Rook Goldflies also joined the new Allman Brothers Band. “Enlightened Rogues” (#9, 1979) was gold within two weeks of its release.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
The first thing you got to do with this record is to forget that the Allman Brothers Band ever existed and at one time was the best best that America had to offer. Forget any comparisons between the Gregg Allman Band and the Allmans.
Except for the first cut, that is. “Come and Go Blues” was a powerhouse on the Wipe the Windows album, a laconic but rolling blues. Gregg wrote it so I guess he can do what he wants with it, but his new version seems halting and…well, sissified. Delicate. It’s such a good song, though, and Gregg is still such a good singer that I don’t mind it a whole lot.
As a symptom, though, it points to the flaw of the album: Allman’s seeming lack of confidence in his own material, his solo career and even his vocals. The two new Gregg compositions here, “One More Try” and “Bring It On Back,” are both cliché-laden laments that beg some unnamed person to come back. Neither is convincing, musically or lyrically, and both suggest overwhelmingly that he has got to work this kind of crap out of his system before he gets enough confidence back to be the kind of performer he should be. The one time he comes close to really opening up here is with Ray Charles’ “Brightest Smile in Town.” Whatever Gregg’s musical ambitions may be — and he offers few clues on Playin’ Up a Storm — I suspect that they lie close to that kind of torchy blues. More power to him.
The Allman Brothers are dead. Long live the Allman Brothers.
~ Chet Flippo (July 28, 1977)
“Come and Go Blues” (Gregg Allman) – 4:48
“Let This Be a Lesson to Ya'” (Gregg Allman, Malcolm Rebennack) – 3:42
“Brightest Smile in Town” (Ray Charles, Barry DeVorzon, Bob Sherman) – 3:06
“Bring It on Back” (Gregg Allman) – 4:49
“Cryin’ Shame” (Beckmeier, Steve Berlin) – 3:44
“Sweet Feelin'” (Clarence Carter, Daniel, Hall, Candi Staton) – 3:37
“It Ain’t No Use” (Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, Florence Kaye) – 3:54
“Matthew’s Arrival” (Neil Larsen) – 3:50
“One More Try” (Gregg Allman) – 3:53