Monday, September 04, 2017

Kat's Korner: Gregg Allman's final secession

Kat: Early this year, Gregg Allman passed away.  Some tried to make it into a moment of national mourning.

Of what?

The slow death of a limited talent?

"I can't bear to think that this might be the end, but you and I both know, the road is my only true friend."

Gregg sings that and actually managed to write it -- well, co-write it, with Scott Sharrad, who wrote all but one verse of lyrics.  It's the only original song on next week's SOUTHERN BLOOD album.

Yes, it's another album of covers from a man well past his prime that we're supposed to treat as amazing and lie to ourselves while we insist it really says something.

What it really says is that Gregg Allman had nothing to say.

And that's a statement that people began repeating in the early seventies.

As a 'summation' of a career that's so notable for being nothing, the album may work as conveying just how worthless and unimportant Allman is and was.

In what's no doubt supposed to evoke a soulful sound, the song ends up instead sounding like Vegas faux soul.  In that, it's entirely like Allman -- fake from beginning to end.

He's the rebel, right?

That's one of the lies about Gregg.

But as early as the pre-Allman Brothers days, he'd already sold out while brother Duane flipped the bird at Liberty Records.  Not Gregg.  No, he was the little suck up who stayed behind.

He'd continue to sell out throughout what passed for a career (try "embarrassment").  That includes turning snitch to save his own drugged out ass.

We're not even going into his personal life here -- young girls -- girls, not women -- littered throughout.  A suicide here, a destruction there.  No surprise, not one cover on the album was written by a woman.  His sexism wasn't just personal, it was professional (and explains ALLMAN & WOMAN -- the credit used for TWO THE HARD WAY, the album he recorded with then wife Cher in 1977).

Duane went on to hone his talent -- his work on Laura Nyro's "Beads of Sweat" remains a standout.

But Gregg stayed behind, unwilling to risk anything for the success he knew was coming -- success that never really came.

The reality is that Lynyrd Skynyrd was a southern band that was a super group and The Allman Brothers were nothing.

It's Lynyrd Skynyrd that had the multi-platinum albums and the hit singles.

The band, as did The Allman Brothers, benefited from the macabre -- deaths increased sales for both bands.  But Lynyrd has left a lasting imprint on music.

The Allman Brothers never really got there.

As even CRAPAPEDIA acknowledges, "'Ramblin' Man' became the band's first and only hit single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973."

As a solo artist, he's even more disappointing.

CRAPAPEDIA tells you he had a number one hit with "I'm No Angel" and that the album of the same name was certified gold.

How fitting that this should be his claim to fame.

"I'm No Angel" failed to make it into BILLBOARD's top forty.

It did land at the top position of BILLBOARD's top forty Album Rock Tracks.

How fitting indeed.

No woman made it to the top of that chart.  No African-American.

How fitting that the poser White guy trying to'sound Black' would make it to the top of a sexist and racist format in the same week that, on the real charts -- the BILLBOARD Top 100, where his song failed to make the top forty, Jody Watley would be at number two with "Looking for a New Love," Prince would be at number six with "Sign 'O' The Times" and Aretha Franklin and George Michael would be at number 10 with "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me."  Elsewhere in the top forty, you could find Atlantic Star with "Always," Janet Jackson helping out Herb Albert on "Diamonds," Kool & the Gang's "Stone Love," Lionel Richie's "Se La," Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "Head To Toe" and Smokey Robinson with "Just To See Here."

Gregg couldn't crack the top forty on the real chart.  But on the dwindling Album Rock Tracks, where African-American males and women of all races weren't welcome, with all those barriers to progress, there Gregg could make his last stand.

Gregg didn't write the song, of course.

He was a writer in title only, really.

I'M NO ANGEL, the album, did sale.

At $3.99, it sold.

The album came out in February 1987, made it to number 30, and did nothing.

But CDs were the 'new' and 'hot' thing at the time.

So from 1987 to 1990, you could find Gregg's failed album everywhere -- at every grocery store, every discount chain, anywhere they stocked albums that didn't sell.

In a bin with other failed product, it would be there with a $3.99 sticker slapped on the front and a hole drilled through the case to note that it was a reject.

And as a result of these sales, in November of 1990, nearly four years after it was released (three months shy of four years), it was certified gold.

He can't point to sales.

He can't point to influence either.

Supposedly, he's a great singer.

But no man ever had more intonation problems -- problems never addressed as he destroys Tim Buckley's "Once I Was A Soldier."

Lowell George's "Willin'" also suffers from Gregg's muzak blues.  Linda Ronstadt long ago laid down the definitive version of this song.  But Gregg slurs his way around notes without ever actually appearing to hit one while he 'interprets' the song with all the skill of an eight-year-old boy preening in front of the mirror while he sings into his mommy's hair brush.

Can it get worse?

It does on Jackson Browne's "Song For Adam."

One of Jackson's early my-friend-died songs, some reviewers want you to know that Gregg couldn't sing two lines of the last verse.  He was too moved, apparently.  What they leave out is that he may omit the two lines but goes right into the final chorus.

They also forget to tell you that no one, not even Gregg himself, has ever sang flatter.

I don't understand this project.  It's being pimped as autobiographical despite the fact that he only wrote one verse on the entire album.  It's one (bad) cover after another.

If anything, the album won't make you appreciate Gregg Allman, it will make you miss the best soundtrack album that never was.

For the last forty or so years, most people are introduced to Tim Buckley's "If I Was A Soldier" via Jane Fonda's COMING HOME.  That film has an amazing soundtrack: Aretha's "Save Me" and "Chain of Fools," Big Brother & The Holding Company's "Call On Me," the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time" and "Ruby Tuesday," Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," Richie Haven's "Follow," etc.  COMING HOME never had a soundtrack released on vinyl, tape or CD.

But even only via the film, that soundtrack has made more of an impact than Gregg Allman's final release ever will because SOUTHERN BLOOD is about as embarrassing and realistic as one of those monuments to the Confederacy.