The Allman Brothers Band: Forum, Inglewood CA

Allmans: hot rockers

LOS ANGELES: “We’re An American Band,” Grand Funk (nee Railroad) inform us each time we switch on the radio over here — but they’re not THE American band at all. That title now rests securely with the Allman Brothers, currently the hottest rock attraction in the States with album sales to match. Right now the Allmans are challenging the British rock supremacy which seems to have reigned here ever since the Beatles made it in 1964.

The Allmans are so typically American in the way they dress, act and make music that it’s no surprise they’re doing so well. Some would put their immense popularity down to the mystique surrounding their mortality rate, but after watching them play for what seemed like hours at the Inglewood Forum last night, I’m inclined to think Dicky Betts’ guitar playing holds the key to their prosperity.

The concert was another in the series of benefit shows for the American Indians and, as such, was a spectacular affair with hours and hours of music, not only from the Allmans, but from Marshall Tucker and Boz Scaggs too. But neither of the supporting bands came close to emulating the sheer power and fluidity of the Allmans: when they’ve cranked up to top gear, they flow like the Thames in flood.

To watch the Allmans in this kind of mood is to discover the basic difference between English and American rock. While the English groups are precise, loud and stylised in their own way, the Allmans are essentially anti-personality, anti star trips and anti gimmicks. They let the music speak for itself as it builds and builds, reaching out in all directions until a particular phrase has been exhausted.

The Allmans are a lesson to all budding rock and roll groups; neither flashy nor weighed down by electronic wizardry. While their style cannot be described as original, their strength lies purely in the music they play, and their inventiveness lies in endless guitar patterns stemming from country/blues origins rather than the futuristic ideas of so many of their contemporaries.

© Chris CharlesworthMelody Maker, 29 September 1973

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