duane-allman-M-Review-No25DUANE ALLMAN

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective 


Just how prolific was Duane Allman in his few years? Amazingly so. From the time he first recorded and performed publicly in the mid-’60s until his death in 1971 at the age of 24, Duane—older than brother Gregg by a year—was one busy fellow. Attempts have been made through the years to chronicle the work of “Skydog,” as he was called, both within and outside of the Allman Brothers Band, but never as comprehensively as on this seven-disc collection. What’s most remarkable is the consistency of Allman’s playing. Even in the early garage-style recordings he made with pre-ABB bands the Escorts, the Allman Joys and the psychedelic-era Hour Glass, Allman was already displaying a full command of soul and rock guitar, exhibiting an individualistic style—especially on slide—that endeared him to producers and led to work on dozens of sides by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Rush and King Curtis. Once the Allman Brothers Band kicked into high gear in 1969, Duane could have easily lessened his workload, but instead, he kept at it, adding licks to recordings by Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie, and Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominos—whose “Layla” remains a high-water mark of both guitarists’ oeuvres. While Skydog features some previously unreleased tunes, some of them nice surprises, this package isn’t necessarily aimed at hardcore collectors. Rather, it exists to finally gather up all of the stray tracks and place them in context alongside the cornerstones of the Allman discography. It accomplishes that flawlessly. –Jeff Tamarkin


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