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Music Review: The Allman Brothers – Where It All Begins

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Where It All Begins was the third of three comeback studio albums The Allman Brothers released during the first half of the 1990s. While it may be the weakest of the three, it is still a very solid release, as it contains nothing bad but nothing really outstanding as well. Still, it remains very listenable today.

The band’s personnel remained intact for the second album in a row. Gregg Allman was getting clean and sober and his performances are some of the album’s highlights. He became more of a presence than he had been in the past. Guitarists Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes were together for their third, and last, studio album. They were the second of three great guitar combinations that would grace The Allman Brothers Band.

The rhythm section of bassist Allen Woody and drummers Jaimoe and Butch Trucks was as proficient as ever. Tom Dowd returned to produce his sixth album for the band, which added to its stability.

The sound may have been a little more mainstream than in the past, plus the improvisation was less than usual. On the positive side, it was the group’s usual mixture of southern rock and blues.

Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts share the principal writing chores. Allman co-wrote four of the tracks and Betts wrote or co-wrote five more. Betts would compose no more songs with another band member, which may have looked ahead to his leaving the band he had been with since its beginnings.

“Sailin’ Cross The Devil’s Sea” is an Allman, Haynes, Woody, and Jack Pearson composition and has a nice funky feel to it. It is Dickey Betts’ slide guitar that provides the highlight. “Temptation Is A Gun” was written by Allman, John Friga, and former Journey member Neal Schoen. It contains a wonderful and bluesy vocal by Allman.

Dickey Betts goes in a more rock direction than in the past. “Back Where It All Begins” clocks in at over nine minutes, which gives ample time for both Betts and Haynes to weave their guitar magic both by themselves and together. “No One To Run To” and “Mean Woman Blues” may not be the best songs Betts ever wrote, but they have a nice hard edge.

Where It All Begins would be a steady seller and eventually receive a gold record sales award. With the release of this album, the Allman Brothers would move confidently into the future. The band would remain a concert attraction as one of the best live bands in the business.

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