The Allman Brothers released Hittin’ The Note, March 18, 2003. It was their first studio album in nearly nine years and a lot had changed for the band. Guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody had left to form Gov’t Mule. They were replaced by bassist Otiel Burbridge and guitarist Derek Trucks. Next, Dickey Betts was fired from the band he helped to form. Allen Woody passed away and Haynes decided to rejoin the band. Finally they added conga player Marc Quinones as a third percussionist. If your keeping track, The Allman Brothers now consisted of Haynes, Trucks, Burbridge, Quinones plus original members, keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman and drummers Jai Johnny Johanson and Butch Trucks.
Allman and Haynes were now the dominant members of the band and they formed a surprisingly adept songwriting combination and here they co-wrote five of the eleven tracks. Allman’s voice is in fine form and his keyboards are more front and center than in the past. Haynes co-wrote an additional 3 tracks with other partners for a total of eight, plus acted as co-producer for the release.
Trucks and Haynes now occupied the twin guitarist’s role and they brought the band into the 21st century. How they are compared to the classic combination of Betts and Duane Allman is up to the listener, but I tend to take them on their own terms, and their quality is very high. All four guitarists made the Rolling Stone Magazine list of the Greatest Guitarists of all Time. While I miss Betts and his country leanings, Trucks brought a bluesy sound to the band which was a nice change.
One of the positive attributes was the album was basically recorded live in the studio. There were a few overdubs after the fact, but what they played is basically what you get.
There is a lot to like about this album. “Firing Line,” “Maydell,” and “High Cost Of Living” are all very good rock/blues pieces. “Desdemona” at over nine minutes, gives both Trucks and Haynes a chance to provide solos.
“Instrumental Illness” was a Haynes/Burbridge instrumental composition, which will always be compared to the Betts catalogue of instrumentals. It was more solo oriented and not as melodic as the Betts material, but did receive two Grammy nominations. At over 12 minutes, both Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes string together a series of solos that are both creative and memorable.
Hittin’ The Note is a fine modern day Allman Brothers album. The songs are well written, the band tight, and the musicianship is exemplary. It remains an excellent listening experience and a treat for fans of the band