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Music Review: The Allman Brothers – Seven Turns

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It had been nearly eight years since The Allman Brothers had played together. They reformed during 1989 and promptly embarked on a well received and commercially successful tour. During April of 1990 they went into the studio and six months later released Seven Turns. It would mark the beginning of the third phase of their career, which continues down to the present day.

Four original members of the band were joined by three new ones, which made them a seven-man band. Organist/vocalist Gregg Allman, guitarist/vocalist Dickey Betts, and drummers Jaimoe Johanson and Butch Trucks were all back. New members included guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody, and keyboardist Johnny Neel. Haynes would be the key addition as he is now recognized as one of the premier guitarists in the world. He and Betts would quickly become a formidable duo. Not to be overlooked was Neel, as his piano playing complemented Allman and returned the group to the two-keyboardist styling’s of the Chuck Leavell era.

The other old friend whose name appears in the album credits was producer Tom Dowd. He produced most of The Allman Brothers best work and has been honored as one of the premier producers and engineers in rock history. Dowd proved to be the final piece of the puzzle as Seven Turns ranks among their best albums.

“Good Clean Fun” is the album’s first track and immediately announces that the Allman Brothers are back and in fine form. It is a rocker with Betts and Haynes making their debut as guitar partners, and it is spectacular. Gregg Allman’s voice is in fine form as well and fits the song perfectly.

Warren Haynes also proved to be a capable songwriter as he co-wrote several of the better songs. “Gambler’s Roll” is probably the album’s strongest track. It is a haunting song and Haynes was smart enough to allow Gregg Allman to provide the lead vocal. His performance is almost painful as it perfectly captures the essence of the blues. “Shine It On” was written with Betts and goes in a different direction as it returns the band to their southern rock roots.

Betts and Haynes also composed another excellent Allman Brothers instrumental. “True Gravity” goes in a jazz direction and while it may not be as well-known as some of Betts’ previous instrumental creations, it remains a fine song in its own right. Another highlight is Betts’ title track; he provides some nice slide guitar on this country/rock tune.

Seven Turns was a fine comeback for The Allman Brothers. It would initiate the modern period of their career, which continues today. If you like The Allman Brothers or their brand of rock, you can’t go wrong with this album.

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