"One Way Out" is an exhaustive oral history by insider Alan Paul of a band which occupies the prime place alongside the Grateful Dead in the annals of American rock. Alan Paul has been an ever present chronicler of the band over 25 years and on the evidence of this book if Greg Allman had spoken to a Greyhound bus driver he would have undertook a follow up interview. This history tracks the band from its early inception when two young brothers, Greg and Duane fought over the only guitar in the house in Daytona Beach in Florida where they had moved following the desperate murder of their father Willis Turner Allman in Nashville. Tragedy stalked the siblings from the outset and went on to define their band. Paul's book sets out there early days as the Escorts, the Allman Joys and lastly Hour Glass. Their record label Liberty wanted the US version of Gerry and Pacemakers but the band eventually opened for the Doors and Buffalo Springfield.
Inevitably in the early part of the story it is the Duane Allman one of the greatest musicians to pick up a guitar who dominates the book. He was already a brilliant session man in his early 20s. In 1969 the classic Allmans line up was formed Duane and Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jai Johanny Johanson. By the time of their third album 1971's legendary "Live at Fillmore East" captured the band in New York as arguably the best live rock act in the world with Duane Allman and Betts leading the guitar frontal assault. The $1,250 dollars they earned per show saw them triangulate that signature sound which Paul describes "as a rock n roll band playing blues in the jazz vernacular...and they tore the place up"
Sadly this line up was struck by disaster shortly after in October 1971 with Duane Allman's death on his beloved motorbike in Macon Georgia which then was followed by the double whammy of Berry Oakley's death in 1972 again in a road accident. It was from here that Dickey Betts essentially became the band leader and forged the way with country rock hits like "Ramblin Man" and "Blue Sky". It was these songs and the great instrumental "Jessica" that brought them wealth and fame but also tore them apart. It is certainly true that Dickie Betts always greatly disliked the term "Southern Rock" to describe the music of a band which had been from the outset a multicultural group and proudly owed its identity to black bluesmen. Yet there is little doubt that 1973s album "Bothers and Sisters" essentially cemented this label. That said the genre's later overt connotations with aspects of Confederate mythology came more with the second wave of Deep South bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.
Paul chronicles the bands descent into drug and alcohol fuelled turbulence. To be fair to him as a band insider he does not shy away from the controversies or pull punches. Gregg Allman's infamous testimony to avoid prosecution against his friend and tour manager, John "Scooter" Herring is laid bare. It led the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia to label Allman a "snitch" and death threats followed. The band broke up and despite attempted reconciliations only properly reformed in 1989 when for the first time Warren Hayes and then latter the brilliant Derek Trucks were added to the line up. Betts alternatively permanently split from the band in 2000 and again Paul highlights the tensions between him and Gregg Allman plus Betts heavy drinking as the contributory factors.
For anyone with a passing interest in rock history "One Way Out" is a goldmine of oral recollections and interviews. It is packed with photos, anecdotes, recriminations, break ups and revivals. The Allman name is essentially a label for a musical brotherhood that as of 2014 is now about to end with the departure of Hayes and Trucks. In this respect the reader would be advised to check out on the internet their brilliant Beacon Theatre residencies in New York not least when old Eric Clapton joined them on stage in 2009 at for once let loose with his most ferocious guitar playing since Cream. And yet it those timeless, magisterial concerts in Bill Graham's "Fillmore" that are the bands true legacy of a sublime musical moment when no one could touch or equal them.
on 12 March 2014
Of course there is only one way out. They know it and we know it. This is a lovely book starting at the beginnings in the sixties. I still remember buying the first album back in 1969. Remember that was the age of Woodstock, CSN etc. Back then it was not considered hip buying southern rock. This book contains a lot of material and inside-interviews. Nobody seems to holding back or anything. All lovers of the ABB will no doubt love this book and read it again and again.
on 10 May 2014
Finally a complete warts and all account of the greatest Southern Rock band in the world.The author mixes narrative with interviews to give a chronological account of the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of theband from 1969-2013.
While I knew a lot about the years up to 1992 it is the subsequent period where this book excels.So you hear about Dickey and Woodys confrontation including the infamous knife incident, Greggs equivocation,how Warren tried to hold everything together until with Woody he tired of it all and left to pursue his Govt Mule project.You hear about how Warrens replacement the great Jack Pearson had to leave because of tinnitis"Jack said he was finding it too loud I said I dont know how long I can stand it but I aint turning down" Dickey Betts.
I coud go on but believe me there is something for everyone and you will read and re read this one.
on 9 October 2014
This will be enjoyed hugely by any fan . I particularly liked the section in which Dickey talks , very eloquently ,about his and Duane's approach to playing together . I also like the fact that his enormous contribution to the ABB is treated with a little more respect than in some other books - including Gregg's . Whatever his issues along the way he is clearly rather more intelligent than some would have us believe - a great read .
on 9 May 2014
The Allman Brothers Band has been together for 45 years, and it is expected that they will finally be calling it a day this year. It is a miracle that they have managed to survive so long, given all the tensions, and the problems with drink and drugs that existed, and particularly because two of the main founding members died within the first couple of years, just as the band was starting to take off.
This book tells the story of the Allman Brothers from the start, right up to the present. It is an oral history, based on interviews with band members, management and crew members. It has been seamlessly put together by Alan Paul, and reads very smoothly. It probably tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the Allmans, and will be of great interest to fans of the band. And, of course, the emphasis is always on the music!