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Gregg AllmanGregg Allman
Album: No Stranger In The Dark - Gregg Allman (The Best Of)
Label: Floating World
Tracks: 15

Gregg Allman, or to use his real name, Gregory LeNoir Allman was born in December 1947. An American musician, singer and songwriter, he is probably best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, before relocating to Daytona Beach, Florida. He and his brother, Duane Allman, developed an interest in music in their teens, and began performing in the Allman Joys in the mid-1960's. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hour Glass, releasing two albums for Liberty Records. In 1969, he and Duane regrouped to form the Allman Brothers Band.

This latest album charts some of the original band's music and the subsequent solo career of Gregg during the late 80's and 90's and is a wonderful compilation showcasing the music of one of America's most influential artists.

As is fitting for a true rock star, Gregg's life story and its ups and downs will one day make a superb film. The phrase, "been there, done that and got the T shirt" could have been written for Gregg and possibly is the reason that his voice has this amazing mix of sadness, emotion and drive. His music is a rare coming together of hard rock and genuine blues delivered with a noticeable Southern drawl, once described as a mournful growl, and all supported by some amazing musicianship.

On some of the images on the CD cover, Gregg bears an uncanny resemblance to another supremely gifted star of music in Rick Wakeman.

Like many music lovers of my generation, I was aware of the Allman Brothers without them ever really becoming a real influence on my musical tastes or entering my consciousness. Now listening to this album, I realise what I missed!

The first two tracks "I'm No Angel" and "Island" amply demonstrates Gregg's ability to change from Rock to pure Blues. Listening now to Gregg, it is interesting to note that he was not the original lead singer for the Allman Brothers Band, brother Duane did that, despite Gregg having a voice that is perfectly suited to that role. "Island" is a song written about his daughter which shows the soft side of the man that many will regard as being a "hard man" of music.

He has written or co-written many of the tracks on this CD showing that he is also an accomplished songwriter as well as an amazing and influential performer. Take a listen to "Demons" which is a life story wrapped up in a Blues number and which Gregg states is kind of biographical. His voice certainly suits this type of number. He can also do slow and thoughtful, "Ocean Awash The Gunwale" being a fine example of this. I am not sure that I have ever seen the word Gunwale used in the title of a song before either.

Jackson Browne's "These Days" is included here as a Live version and is a previously unreleased track. Gregg's voice and version of this song does Jackson's writing proud.

As is almost inevitable with a release of music for an earlier era, some of the music sounds slightly dated but this to my mind is its attraction. It comes from a time when the music was hard, ballsy, melodic and meaningful. An uncommon trait in the current music industry!

By now you will have arrived at the conclusion that I absolutely love this compilation. If you are not quite sure if you will do so, just listen to the first two tracks and you will be hooked. A musical gift from a truly remarkable man and musician!

Rory Stanbridge