Hittin' the Note
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
If you're a fan of the Allman Brothers
Band, you already have this album, and you love it more than you
love your grandchildren and your hiking boots. Plus, you're probably
an Allmanomaniac, so you're going to be pissed off that we haven't
given this a 7 out of 5 and said "this album is so good that
you will literally barf all over yourself and then not clean it
up for days" or something like that.
if you are that guy, then my apologies, etc. But I'm not talking
to you: I'm talking to people who don't necessarily own Eat
a Peach on plutonium vinyl and have a tattoo of St. Duane
taking up their entire back. For people like that, let's put this
into context: the Allmans were great precisely because they took
blues and rock and country and put them together, and then added
a twist: the jazz of John Coltrane. No, I'm not kidding—the
major influence on Duane and Gregg and Warren Haynes were the
mid-period Coltrane solos that went on forever in a modal mode.
In their prime, every member of this band could solo for like
a half an hour and only lose half the audience to the bathrooms
or the pot dealers in the lobby.
They've taken some time off, but are now
back together, with Haynes (late of Gov't Mule) back in the fold,
sharing lead guitar duties with star-in-his-own-right Derek Trucks,
whose uncle Butch is one of the drummers in the group (Jaimoe
Johanny Johansen still holding down the other kit); Gregg has
recovered enough from his marriage to Cher to sing and play keyboards
again—it's like the last 30 years never happened!
And this record is pure vintage Allmans:
long-ass blues-rock jams with those incredible Coltrane solos!
funky double-drum jams (Oteil Burbridge on bass adds A LOT to
this band, and Marc Quiñones' congas don't hurt one damned
bit)! Yeah, they sound a little clearer now thanks to modern technology,
and Derek brings some additional spunk and sting to the group.
The guitar work here is simply stunning, even better than it has
a right to be; the soloing on "Rockin' Horse" alone
will probably make you just die. This here is 75 minutes' worth
of brand-new vintage old-school/new-school ABB.
Which you might or might not like. "Desdemona"
is a long slow one that turns into a great boogie jam. "The
High Cost of Low Living" is kind of a boring country song
that turns into a great boogie jam. They cover the Stones' "Heart
of Stone" so they can turn it into a pretty good boogie jam.
"Instrumental Illness" eschews lyrics altogether in
favor of a 12-minute be-bop-jazz-odyssey boogie jam. Et freakin'
cetera. You want to hear great band interplay the way it used
to be? You stop here and listen awhile, and you'll understand.
So what's wrong with that? Well, nothing,
unless you want your music to take chances or bring something
new to the table. There's nothing here indicating that these guys
really care if you can't tell the difference between "Who
to Believe" or "Firing Line"—it's all just
pretext, because they're probably gonna stretch each of these
out to 20 minutes or so live anyway.
I like this CD, but if you want things to be a little more hip
or cool, you're gonna hate this. So be warned, all you techno/housey/power-poppers
and punk/funk/prog/hoppers—stay the hell away from Hittin'
the Note. But if you like a bit of the good old rock and
roll, this is a nice safe comfy disc that happens to contain some
of the damnedest hottest best guitar solos you'll hear this year
or any year.
liked Hittin' the Note...
Firing Line Listen Listen
2. High Cost of Low Living Listen Listen
3. Desdemona Listen Listen
4. Woman Across the River Listen Listen
5. Old Before My Time Listen Listen
6. Who To Believe
8. Rockin' Horse
9. Heart of Stone
10. Instrumental Illness
11. Old Friend