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Music Review: The Allman Brothers – Shades Of Two Worlds

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The Allman Brothers had re-established itself as one of the premier American bands with its 1989 comeback tour and excellent 1990 album, Seven Turns. The group quickly went back into the studio and issued a follow-up album during July of 1991.

Shades Of Two Worlds was a second very good album in a row. It may not have had the consistency of Seven Turns, but it was more diverse and a solid album in its own right.

The band had reduced itself to six members, as second keyboardist Johnny Neel was not asked to return. This meant that Gregg Allman was the sole keyboardist again, and he stepped forward to be one of the keys to the album’s success. It also meant that The Allman Brothers as a group was grounded in a two-guitar sound once more, and the combination of Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes was more than up to the task. They would also combine to co-write four of the eight tracks. The band also asked Tom Dowd to produce the album, marking the sixth time he had served in that capacity.

The album was a return to longer tracks, as had been the norm during most of ita early classic period. The best example is the Dickey Betts solo composition, “Nobody Knows.” At over 10 minutes, it is an epic Allman Brothers track. This is one of those occasions where Betts is smart enough to let Gregg Allman provide the lead vocal on one of his songs, and the results are excellent. In many ways, Allman’s vocal work is some of the best of his career. The dual guitars of Betts and Haynes and the drumming of Jaimoe and Butch Trucks are as good as anything the band would produce.

Betts and Haynes combined to create another classic Allman Brothers instrumental. “Kind Of Bird,” at over eight minutes is as close to true jazz as the band would come. It seems as if every album would contain a memorable instrumental and this track was no exception as Betts and Haynes were a superb combination.

There were a number of other highlights. “End Of The Line” is probably the album’s best known track, as it received considerable mainstream rock airplay in its time. It is a nice rocker written by four of the group members and a good way to begin the album.

“Get On With Your Life” is a Gregg Allman composition and he provides another excellent slow blues vocal. “Desert Blues” is a solid blues/rocker with more stellar guitar work from Betts and Haynes.

The album ends with a cover of blues legend Robert Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen.” Allman’s vocal does Johnson proud and Haynes provides outstanding guitar work.

Shades Of Two Worlds was the Allman Brothers’ second superior album in a row. It proved that the band was truly back and in fine form. Another essential release in the long history of one of America’s legendary rock bands.

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