Allman Brothers – Eat A Peach…Desert Island Albums

This is my sixth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

https://slicethelife.com/2020/09/02/2020-album-draft-round-6-pick-9-the-allman-brothers-eat-a-peach/

I was going to pick the At Fillmore East live album but I also wanted some studio tracks…you get both with this one. This is the last album that Duane Allman worked on before a motorcycle crash took his life. He died a few weeks into making the album. The album also included live tracks that were not used on At Fillmore East like One Way Out, Trouble No More, and a 33 minute “Mountain Jam” that was built off a riff from a Donovan song “There is a Mountain.”

They had some sort of chemistry live that was incredible. I’m usually not a fan of long endless live songs but they keep intensity up…plus with this album you get the best of both worlds.

25 years ago I would not have picked this album…I’ve learned more about them in the past few years and have become a huge fan of the classic lineup. When I listen to the Allman Brothers I listen to the music as a whole more than just the songs. They clicked so well as a band that they blended perfectly when at their best.

Their best albums to me are At Fillmore East, Eat A Peach, and Brothers and Sisters. They have been labeled and credited as starting “Southern Rock” but they were totally different than most of their peers. The Allmans were more blues/jazz oriented who happened to be from the south.

The two guitar players were Duane Allman and Dickey Betts…two of the best around at the time. They also had two drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson (Jaimoe) (who played with Otis Redding). Their bass player was from Chicago…Berry Oakley (who would die in a motorcycle crash a little over a year after Duane) who was amazing. Gregg Allman would write and  sing lead on many of the songs and as he said…pushed the gravy on the meat…he added texture with his Hammond Organ.

They started to work on this album in September of 1971 and laid down the basic tracks to for “Blue Sky,” “Stand Back” and “Little Martha.” Duane Allman died on October 29, 1971. So those tracks have Duane playing on them and of course all of the live material features him on guitar. After he died the band went back to the studio and recorded the rest and it was finished in December.

The album was released on February 12, 1972 and it peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100 and #12 in Canada. The original name was going to be “Eat A Peach for Peace.”

The opening song is my favorite one on the album. Ain’t Wasting Time No More…it was Gregg Allman’s song working through the grief of his brother’s death and about soldiers coming home from Vietnam. Last Sunday morning, the sunshine felt like rain,the week before, they all seemed the same

Blue Sky is a Dickey Betts song that I never get tired of. The soaring guitars and the few verses that it has are happy and upbeat. Betts initially wanted the band’s lead vocalist, Gregg Allman, to sing the song, but guitarist Duane Allman encouraged him to sing it himself… “Man, this is your song and it sounds like you and you need to sing it.” Dickey Betts wrote this about his Native Canadian girlfriend, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig.

Melissa is probably the most remembered song off of this album. It’s a great song that Greg had written years before…he couldn’t think of the right woman’s name until he heard a lady in a grocery store yell for her daughter… Melissa.

One Way Out is some of the live feel  that I wanted with Fillmore East and I get it on this album along with the above studio cuts. One of their best known songs.

I thought the island needed a southern touch so the Allmans will do just fine. I’ll just sit back with soul food, listen to Allmans, and watch the tide.

  1. Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
  2. Les Brers In A Minor
  3. Melissa
  4. Mountain Jam
  5. One Way Out
  6. Trouble No More
  7. Stand Back
  8. Blue Sky
  9. Little Martha
  10. Mountain Jam Cont’d.

Allman Brothers – Melissa

This was Duane Allman’s favorite song that his brother Gregg wrote….but it was also one of the first songs the band recorded without Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident about four months before it was released. Eat A Peach was dedicated to Duane. At Duane Allman’s funeral in 1971, Gregg Allman played this song on one of Duane’s old guitars. At the service, Gregg said, “This was my brother’s favorite song that I ever wrote.”

The song peaked at #86 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. The song didn’t chart too well but it remains a staple of classic radio.

Gregg actually taught Duane how to play the guitar, who quickly became a virtuoso. They played together until 1969 when Duane assembled what would become the Allman Brothers Band. Gregg was reluctant to sign on having already been accepted into college to be a dental surgeon. He soon did and they played together until Duane’s death in 1971.

From Songfacts

Gregg Allman spoke at length about this song in an interview with the San Luis Obispo (California) Tribune on November 30, 2006: “I wrote that song in 1967 in a place called the Evergreen Hotel in Pensacola, Florida. By that time I got so sick of playing other people’s material that I just sat down and said, ‘OK, here we go. One, two, three – we’re going to try to write songs.’ And about 200 songs later – much garbage to take out – I wrote this song called ‘Melissa.’ And I had everything but the title. I thought (referring to lyrics): ‘But back home, we always run… to sweet Barbara’ – no. Diane…? We always run… to sweet Bertha.’ No, so I just kind of put it away for a while.

So one night I was in the grocery store – it was my turn to go get the tea, the coffee, the sugar and all that other s–t… and there was this Spanish lady there and she had this little toddler with her – this little girl. And I’m sitting there, getting a few things and what have you. And this little girl takes off, running down the aisle. And the lady yells, Oh, Melissa! Melissa, come back, Melissa!’ And I went, ‘Oh – that’s it.’ I forgot about half the stuff I went for, I went back home and, man, it was finished, only I couldn’t really tell if it was worth a damn or not because I’d written so many bad ones. So I didn’t really show it to anybody for about a year. And then I was the last one to get to Jacksonville – I was the last one to join the band that became the Allman Brothers. And my brother sometimes late at night after dinner, he’d say, ‘Man, go get your guitar and play me that song – that song about that girl.’ And I’d play it for him every now and then.

After my brother’s accident, we had three vinyl sides done of Peach, so I thought well we’ll do that, and then on the way down there I wrote “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” I wrote that for my brother. We were all in pretty bad shape. I had just gotten back from Jamaica and I was weighing at about 156, 6-foot-1-and-a-half – I was pretty skinny. So we went back down there, got in the studio and finished the record. And the damn thing shipped gold.”

This was first recorded in 1968 by the 31st Of February, one of Gregg and Duane Allman’s first bands. Duane’s version of this with the 31st Of February is the first recording of him playing the bottleneck slide guitar, a technique he became famous for.

Steve Alaimo, who was operating the studio where The Allman Brothers recorded this song, received a songwriting credit on this track along with Gregg Allman. Alaimo had a few Hot 100 entries as a singer in the ’60s and early ’70s before moving into production work.

The part of the song that begins: “Crossroads, will you ever let him go” is probably a reference to Robert Johnson, a blues legend who supposedly went to a crossroads and sold his soul to the devil.

Gregg Allman told Esquire in 2013 that thanks to ready access to biphetamines, he had been awake for about two days when he wrote this song. He was working like crazy on another song, but when he played it for his brother, Duane said, “What you have here is a new set of lyrics to an obscure Rolling Stones song.” Said Gregg: “That’s discouraging as s–t, right there. And just as I was about to say f–k it, I wrote ‘Melissa.'”

The Allman Brothers performed this on the last episode of the syndicated Dennis Miller Show on July 25, 1992.

This was used in a commercial television advertisement campaign for Cingular/AT&T Wireless.

Melissa

Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah
The gypsy flies from coast to coast
Knowing many, loving none
Bearing sorrow, having fun
But, back home he’ll always run
To sweet Melissa
Mmm, hmm

Freight train, each car looks the same, all the same
And no one knows the gypsy’s name
And no one hears his lonely sighs
There are no blankets where he lies
Lord, in his deepest dreams the gypsy flies
With sweet Melissa
Mm, hmm

Again, the mornin’s come
Again, he’s on the run
A sunbeam’s shinin’ through his hair
Fear not to have a care
Well, pick up your gear and gypsy roll on
Roll on

Crossroads, will you ever let him go? 
Lord, Lord
Or will you hide the dead man’s ghost?
Or will he lie, beneath the clay?
Or will his spirit float away?
But, I know that he won’t stay
Without Melissa
Yes, I know that he won’t stay, yeah
Without Melissa
Lord, Lord, it’s all the same