EAT A PEACH > The Allman Brothers

Label:POLYDOR,1972
Rating: ★★★★★

They emerged from Live at the Fillmore East as the blistering blues band that knew how to rock-and the meandering explorations of brothers Duane and Gregg Allman were incendiary moments that demonstrated how combustive jamming could be. It was all so perfect: a rural/regional band hoisting the flag for intellectual musicianship.

And then Duane Allman’s motorcycle slid under a truck, leaving remnants of the Brothers scattered and needing to reconvene and clarify the ground already broken.

As the updraft swooped and swept up an exuberant call-to-life with “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” the survivors offered up a reason to believe in the face of chaos. Those who were still here found the means to elevate, celebrate and move on with the knowledge that those left behind must savor what they’re given-and in that, there is enough sparkle to ignite an album that merges the old school blues of Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More” with the extended opus “Mountain Jam.”

It was the essence of what Southern rock could be: jazz-inflected runs, guttural entreaties, rhythmic fields that were far more complicated than the stomp and frenzy implied. Whether it was the percolating take on Sonny Boy Williamson’s trapped-in-the-wrong-place “One Way Out” or the heady romanticism of the almost pastoral “Melissa,” what was possible emerged as thoughtful, in addition to primal.

With the towers of B-3 steam pouring off most of the tracks, Gregg Allman emerged from his brother’s shadow as a genuine force of emotion, while Dickey Betts’ role of understudy guitar player came into a more heightened focus-as a player who could sear or embroider melody as need be, especially on his own winsomely beckoning “Blue Sky.”

Out of the jagged shards of what had been a dream fulfilled, the Allman Brothers found a truth that brought them to another place-and that place ultimately book-ended the Grateful Dead’s rallying reality for what has become the jam band nation. Perhaps more literate, even as it was also more biker and dirt bag, Eat a Peach is a record that delivered then, and delivers now, without shifting one’s filter.