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Playin' Up a Storm
The Gregg Allman Band

Capricorn CP 0181
Released: May 1977
Chart Peak: #42
Weeks Charted: 12

Gregg AllmanThe first thing you got to do with this record is to forget that the Allman Brothers Band ever existed and at one time was the best best that America had to offer. Forget any comparisons between the Gregg Allman Band and the Allmans.

Except for the first cut, that is. "Come and Go Blues" was a powerhouse on the Wipe the Windows album, a laconic but rolling blues. Gregg wrote it so I guess he can do what he wants with it, but his new version seems halting and...well, sissified. Delicate. It's such a good song, though, and Gregg is still such a good singer that I don't mind it a whole lot.

The Gregg Allman Band - Playin Up a Storm
Original album advertising art.
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As a symptom, though, it points to the flaw of the album: Allman's seeming lack of confidence in his own material, his solo career and even his vocals. The two new Gregg compositions here, "One More Try" and "Bring It On Back," are both cliché-laden laments that beg some unnamed person to come back. Neither is convincing, musically or lyrically, and both suggest overwhelmingly that he has got to work this kind of crap out of his system before he gets enough confidence back to be the kind of performer he should be. The one time he comes close to really opening up here is with Ray Charles' "Brightest Smile in Town." Whatever Gregg's musical ambitions may be -- and he offers few clues on Playin' Up a Storm -- I suspect that they lie close to that kind of torchy blues. More power to him.

The Allman Brothers are dead. Long live the Allman Brothers.

- Chet Flippo, Rolling Stone, 7-28-77.

Bonus Reviews!

Hyperbole is about average here; Gregg Allman and company don't play up a storm so much as they play up a lazy breeze, just enough to suggest they will be a dandy band if and when they find some tunes that interest them (or you, or me, or anyone else). The producers are listed as Lenny Waronker and Russ Titleman, and they're two of the best, but I suspect Allman did mostly what he wanted to do, as that's the only way to explain why the album starts with an inferior-grade rehash of "Wasted Words," tries to out-Ray-Charles Ray Charles, and repeatedly comes up with a tempo changer about one song too late. But mostly I blame Allman's songwriter's ego for including several rather weak tunes. Allman's history with the structure of bands, incidentally, has been interesting. From the outset the Allman Brothers was a two-drums, two-lead-guitar band (Allman alumnus Dickey Betts now has his own two-drums band), and this one is a two-keyboards (three in this album, counting Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack) and three-guitars band. But it sounds better than it reads; it's never as busy as all that. What it needs to be, and isn't very, is spontaneous. Maybe with better material it will be. Allman's singing continues to be very good technically, but on Playin' Up a Storm it takes on the same kind of uptown civility as the band. It too needs a few songs with a speck or two of dirt on them.

- Noel Coppage,Stereo Review, 11/77.

One expected the new band to cook, but the spiced-up formulas are a surprise -- and the timing, grit, and passion of Gregg's singing simply astonishing. My wife thinks Cher must be the first woman ever to make him feel something, while I suspect a sibling rivalry is brewing with Dickey. First round to (Cher) (big brother). B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

There's weaker material here, but the playing and singing more than compensate. * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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