Don’t roll back your eyes back! I know what you’re thinkin’! What’s next? Give me a fuckin’ break! Oh.. Mercury must be in retrograde.. The term retrograde comes from the Latin word retrogradus, which literally means “backward step.” retrograde is when a planet appears to go backward in its orbit, as viewed from Earth. Astronomers refer to this as “apparent retrograde motion,” because it is an optical illusion. The opposite of retrograde is direct or prograde motion. Believers in the malevolent power of Mercury retrograde blame the phenomenon for everything from arguments to lost mail or luggage to automobile accidents and warn people to hold back on conducting important business during this time.
All this is hogwash…. The newly released debut album from The Allman Betts Band, titled “Down To The River” is smokin’…. The band consists of the sons of The Allman Brothers Band.. Devon Allman on guitar/vocal… Duane Betts on guitar/vocal and Berry Duane Oakley on base/vocals… It was recorded during Thanksgiving 2018 in Muscle Shoals (same studio the Allman Bros. recorded) and produced by Grammy Awards winner.. Matt Ross-Spang… The album was not recorded digitally… all the songs were recorded with vintage gear using two-inch analog tape.
The Allman Betts Band are a rather heavy white blues group out of the deep south. They look like the post-teen punk band rehearsing next door, and there is little in their music that we haven’t heard before. And both they and their album are a gas. For all the white blooze bands proliferating today, it’s still inspiring when the real Southern Rock Band comes along, a white group who’ve transcended their schooling to produce a volatile blues-rock sound of pure energy, inspiration and love. The Allman Betts Band have learned their lessons well, and they play with the same drive and conviction as their fathers. When I first put this album on the driving instrumental that opens it began the clean, ringing guitar riffs in “Shinin” made that battered 12-bar blues form seem fresh again. It’s almost like the turned air into cottage cheese!
The Allman Betts Band know what they’re doing, and feel it deeply as well, and they communicate immediately. One of the virtues of a simple, standardized form like the blues is that when played right it’s such a comfortable place to return to. It had become the envy of all Brit rock bands. “Down To The River” is like that. You’ve been here a thousand times before, and it feels like home instead of mind-numbing banality because the Allmans Betts Band have mastered the form with rare subtlety, and also because their blues keep you vibrating from one brilliant hard rock interpolation to the next.
The song, “Melodies Are Memories” is where the album just cuts loose… the album’s pinnacle moment for me.. a beautiful, aching blues lament. It begins with a side guitar and pulsing organ and throaty, movingly understated vocal all about a man whose world is crumbling around him. A familiar story, but the way it’s written and delivered by the A.B.B. makes it poignantly realistic and universal. It might seem strange to apply the adjective “lovely” to a heavy-white-blues album, but that is what this record so paradoxically is. Sometimes it sounds like what Led Zeppelin might have been if they weren’t hung up on mysticism. And yes, sometimes it sounds like their Pops; but what it is consistently is subtle, and honest, and moving. We love this album..
A special thanks to “The Godfather” of Press… Peter Noble and Ms. Michaela Sauter