On the heels of lifesaving surgery, Gregg Allman releases his first solo album in 14 years.Last summer, Gregg Allman was all set to release his first solo album in more than a decade when he got the call: The rocker, who has long battled chronic hepatitis C, was a candidate for a liver transplant, and surgery was imminent.
Just weeks later, Allman was back on the road playing solo shows and gigs with his long-running Southern rock institution, the Allman Brothers Band. “I told the doctors, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got to make up for lost time. I’m hot to trot,’ ” Allman says.
The 63-year-old is reinvigorated and ready to roll out Low Country Blues (Rounder, $19), an old-school exploration of the music long at the heart of his art. The disc was helmed by the prolific Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnett, who, along with Allman, pored over thousands of old blues songs as source material, eventually settling on a mix of obscure numbers (chestnuts by Sleepy John Estes and Amos Milburn) and more familiar fare (tracks by Muddy Waters and Skip James). Burnett assembled a group of backing musicians, including New Orleans piano master Dr. John, an old friend of Allman’s, and Texas guitar slinger Doyle Bramhall II. With so many pros, the process didn’t take long.
“I’ve never done a record so quickly,” says Allman, who ended up cutting 15 sides in 11 days. “I had so many clothes left over when I got on the plane heading home.”
In the end, Allman says he’s thrilled with the finished album — and that’s no easy feat. “It takes a whole lot to blow my dress up,” he says. “Age has a lot to do with that. You get more picky over time. But that’s a good thing. If I had done this record when I was 26, I don’t think it would be half of what it is.”