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Song From A Favorite Son
on September 3, 2013
If you're a fan of Duane Allman and the Allman Brothers, "Song Of The South"is a revelation for several reasons-for years we've been listening to Duane's recordings, and we get to hear from the people who actually recorded him. We're also treated to plenty of never before seen photos and parts of a 1970 interview from the man himself.
This film covers Duane's career from he and his brother Gregg's band the Escorts, and particular attention is paid to his studio work before and during his time with the Allman Brothers Band. Muscle Shoals guitarist Jimmy Johnson is given ample face time, recalling Duane's lead guitar work on Wilson Pickett's version of "Hey, Jude". This was the recording that caught the attention of so many industry heavyweights, securing his stock early in his career. Musicians Paul Hornsby and Pete Carr, respected musicians themselves discuss Duane's growth during this time, and they're still in awe over forty years later.
Narrator Thomas Arnold points out that right around the time rock was feeling the influence of country and R&B, the Allman Brothers appear with their blend of Blues, Rock, R&B and progressive country, due mainly to fellow guitarist Dickie Betts. The meeting of Duane and Eric Clapton is the high point in the film. Footage of Albert King playing "As The Years Go Passing By" shows how his melody influenced the seven note intro to "Layla".
Two authors contribute to the film: Randy Poe ("Skydog") and Scott Freeman ("Midnight Riders") are both astute writers who discuss how Duane led the Brothers onstage counting on musicianship alone to move the audience-no "shaking of asses" or worrying about fashion. Freeman makes the point that the Brothers' third album, the live "Fillmore East" was the real breakthrough for the band. Most groups would not release a DOUBLE live album for only their third offering, but the Allmans' reputation for superior musicianship earned them their first gold record.
Some very rare archival footage shows the band in concert; especially intriguing is watching the band in full flight during Duane's solo toward the end of "Mountain Jam". You have to wonder: just how much video has been stored over the years, and will any of it ever be available to the public?
The most interesting stories were told by recording engineers the Albert brothers, Ron and Howard. Ron tells how the production team would often sit with the band after a take, and with the tape rolling, catch those impromptu moments when the band, not knowing they were being recorded would often put down some gold.
Extras on the DVD include recording history for some of the landmark albums as told by the Alberts. There is also a list of the contributors to this film including Willie Perkins, Carr, Hornsby and many others.These are the people who played, recorded or traveled with Duane and some are still active today. Perkins has written a memoir about his time with the Brothers "No Saints, No Saviors".
Written and directed by Tom O'Dell, "Song Of The South" is a perfect companion piece to the "Skydog Retrospective", or if you're new to Duane, this DVD is a good place to start. Next spring, Galadrielle Allman will release a book about the father who passed when she was only two. All of these projects keep Duane's spirit alive-and that makes them all worth wile.