OK, the Allman Brothers... this isn't. Considering the circumstances, this isn't really a bad CD. Duane especially might have hated it, but he did good work here (when did he ever not?). The bootlegged cancelled 31st of February effort is definitely better, but here we have a true record of what the Hourglass were ALLOWED to put on record. You get a whole 23 tracks, some of which I would rate as pretty damn good, only one or two embarrassing clunkers, resulting from crappy songs overproduced to hide lack of production talent, not performance ability.
Remember, the Hourglass management were much more interested in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and pretty much forbade the Hourglass to even perform live. The producer didn't like Duane and didn't "get" the whole Southern musical heritage the boys were trying to portray. One can only hope fate dealt with him accordingly.
There are some songs here which work extremely well, like "Cast Off All My Fears", "Heartbeat", "Changing Of The Guard", "I'm Not Afraid", "I Can Stand Alone', "Down In Texas", "I Still Want Your Love", and the lovely "I'm Hanging Up My Heart For You". The world would be a much poorer place for their absence, and no excuse need be made for their inclusion here.
There are some great moments in many other tracks, such as "Silently", "Got To Get Away", "Home For The Summer', and "Now Is The Time". I only shudder a couple of times if playing the whole disc, and none of the blame can be placed on the performers.
I often find these tunes running through my mind at odd times, there is a sunny 60's ambience which comes out of all the music here. This was very much a developmental stage in the Allmans' careers (and all band members continued to contribute) and it's nice to have this artifact of that time. I have listened to the LP for over 30 years, and there is always a time and a place to bring these tunes out every now and then.
The Hourglass might have been a bad time for the band themselves, but it brought the Allmans to national attention, Duane picked up slide in California, and it taught them a valuable lesson about the music business (a lesson which did need constant repetition...). And then we have this music. I think it forms a piece with Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and other such bands in their early stages. It shows talented musicians constrained by a label and production team who weren't up to speed with a changing social and music aesthetic. The Monkees these guys weren't.
There is heart and depth and soul here. A signpost to the later mature offerings provided by Duane in the studio, Duane and Gregg in both band and solo performances, and the whole Southern outpouring from Macon and beyond.
It might not have happened without the Hourglass. The mid 60's were a strange time, even mixing desks weren't all that great most of the time. There was a freshness and innocence about the music of that day which belied the actual daily lives of those generating it. None of us knew then what was to come. The music contained in this CD is a product of its time, but little touches of brilliance in Duane's playing and Gregg's impassioned vocals, lift it above the norm. It is well worth paying good money for.