Brotherhood has always been at the heart of the Allman Brothers Band. This is stupidly self-evident (it’s in the band’s name, for God’s sake), but I think it’s important to pay tribute to it now, soon after the band’s last concert, which they played on October 28th.
The Allmans formed around brother Gregg and Duane, and it was their interplay that fueled the band. They’re both right here at the beginning of “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” off of 1972’s Eat a Peach. Gregg’s piano is quickly answered by Duane’s slide guitar, and the two remain in lockstep for the rest of the track, splitting time in the spotlight more or less 50/50. Gregg naturally sings lead, but Duane’s solos from 1:57-2:25 and from 3:08-3:35 function as his voice, and he expresses himself with as much sentiment and subtlety as his brother.
Both men are able to summon different tones from their instruments throughout the song—Duane alternates between the mid-heavy, gluey tone that you hear at his entrance at 0:06 and a more pure, glassy tone, which you hear best at 1:18 to 1:25. In his phrasing and note choice too there is a duality: some of the licks are straight out of Elmore James’ playbook, while others exhibit modal characteristics indebted to Indian music.
Gregg, for his part, manipulates volume and range to get his different tones. His powerful delivery on the first part of the line “We’ll raise our children in the peaceful way we can,” overloads the mic in such a way that for just a split second he sounds like Duane.
Duane’s untimely death (every piece written about the Allmans has to mention it—did you know that? It’s a law.) ended the brotherhood in the most literal sense. But any band, particularly one as long lived as the Allmans, is bound by a sort of fraternal bond. They are families and teams, and they fall out and they make up and they find success and they make mistakes, but they are always drawn back together, as the Allmans were, by an invisible but inescapable bond. As Gregg sings:
“It’s up to you and me brother/to try and try again/Well hear us now, we ain’t wastin’ time no more.”