on 17 March 2013
The 129 tracks contained in this 7 cd box set cover such diverse musical genres as garage, psych, rhythm and blues, blues, blues rock, dead on rock and roll, jazz rock, soul, anything remotely related to the blues or rock is to be found in the track listing. Duane's daughter Galadrielle was in charge of licensing and she did an absolutely perfect job. Not only is Duane's work with The Allman Brothers, and AB precursor groups The Alllman Joys, Hour Glass and 31st of February included, but his session work at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL, where he played on sessions with r&b legend Wilson Pickett, The Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, super producer King Curtis, Chicago blues guitar legend Otis Rush, former Steve Miller Band member Boz Scaggs and Ronnie Hawkins, as well as Criterion Studio, Florida based post-Blind Faith Eric Clapton band Derek and the Dominos, and the list goes on and on. All of this accomplished before his untimely death in 1971 at age 24. Well over 8 hours of absolutely amazing music contained within the 7 discs. The box set, due for official release on 19 March, 2013, arrived from The Allman Brothers website on 13 March, which offered the set at a discounted price of $99.99 plus shipping and handling. I got set #132 of the 10,000 numbered sets available and was fortunate enough to get my order for a second set processed before the bands website ran out. Rounder Records, the label which was in charge of release sold out their copies on pre-order and I don't know how many copies Amazon.com or Amazom.co.uk had available. It appears that Amazon.co.uk sold out their available copies prior to release date despite a hefty price of 160 pounds sterling, about $260US. The 72 page booklet includes two essays and complete track annotations as well as many previously unseen photos and 9 previously unreleased tracks. The only thing that keeps this retrospective from being Bear Family quality is the length of the booklet and it not being hardbound. The sound, remastered by Paul Blakemore, is crisp and clean. It is obvious that extensive searches were performed to obtain the absolute best sound sources. After giving the set extensive listening I have yet to find a weak link in the track listing or the sound quality. The highlights here are far too many to mention, but standouts are Fenton Robinson's blues gem "Loan Me A Dime" recorded at Muscle Shoals for Boz Scaggs' first solo album, a live version of "Blue Sky" recorded with The Allman Brothers only a month before his tragic death, a cover of the Steppenwolf classic "Born To Be Wild" recorded during a Wilson Pickett session at Muscle Shoals, and a cover of The Band's classic "The Weight" coming from a Muscle Shoals session with Aretha Franklin. If you are reading this review and haven't already ordered your copy of "Skydog" I wish you luck as I fear the 10,000 copies are all spoken for at this point. But I'm sure there will be copies available from Amazon drop shippers, I just wonder what the asking price will be. I could go on, but I think I've already conveyed how essential this set is to any collector of classic music of the 1960s and 1970s, especially if you have even a passing interest in the art of playing slide guitar or Southern rock or gorgeous lead guitar lines or tasteful, never overplayed, guitar solos. The box even contains Duane's rare vocal efforts, on St. Louis Jimmy Oden's blues classic "Goin' Down Slow" and Duane's self-penned "Happily Married Man." Fact of the matter is Duane's voice sounds pretty nice, but he rarely utilized it, preferring to stick to his amazing guitar performances. "Skydog" is absolutely chock full of those performances. As is inevitably the case there may be the odd track here and there that one would have liked to be included in the set, but short of a true Bear Family, all inclusive endeavor, this is as close as its gonna get. My rating of this retrospective? The scale ends at 5 stars, so 5 stars it is, although "Skydog" rates 5 stars plus. My recommendation? Get this retrospective in whatever manner possible or you will forever live with regret.
on 9 December 2013
I have the Duane Allman anthology albums Vol 1 and 2 on vinyl and was intent on getting them on cd, then this came out. It gives a far more definitive insight into the genius of Skydog. There were a few very pleasant surprises in some of the additional material. One such song was " One More Night" by Ronnie Hawkins. When I first heard it I thought it was a Dickey Betts outtake, it sounded so similar. Allman's ability to adapt to any style of music is astounding, I can't think of any guitarist with such a wide range. I was happy to see "You don't love me/Soul Serenade" from a radio broadcast included, the improvisation is first class, incorporating one song into another. Although the price will deter any non fans from investing in this reelease, its a must for all fans of great guitar work. In my humble opinion Duane Allman is the best and most under rated guitarist ever