Duane Allman

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective

7 CD’s, 129 track box set

Review from Allmusic.com

It’s difficult to call a guitarist who routinely shows up in the upper reaches of “100 Greatest Guitarists Ever” lists underappreciated, and yet the first impression the towering seven-disc box set Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective makes is that Duane Allman does not receive his proper due. Sure, the Allman Brothers Band are one of the staples of classic rock, a band that carved out the blues-drenched sound of Southern rock while also establishing a template for jam bands to come, and Duane’s contributions were crucial in making Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs Eric Clapton’s finest moment, and that would be enough for a substantial legacy even if Allman hadn’t died in a tragic motorcycle accident at the age of 24, but that was only part of the story. The rest is told on Skydog, a box set that has its origins on a collection Bill Levenson began in the early ’90s, just after he compiled the four-disc Allman Brothers Band box, Dreams, in 1989, which didn’t see fruition until 2013, after years of work by the renowned rock & roll archivist and Galadrielle Allman, Duane’s daughter. Both had their reasons for delivering a testament to everything Duane Allman achieved in his short life, and that dedication pays off wildly on Skydog, as great a box set as has ever been released.

Much of the greatness in Skydog lies in its thoroughness, how it treats Allman’s work outside of the Allman Brothers Band not as a digression but rather a focus. The Allman Brothers Band account for just 21 of the 129 songs here, not popping up until toward the end of disc three, by which time Duane has been heard playing gangly R&B guitar in his teenage R&B band the Escorts, expertly mimicking the Yardbirds in the Allman Joys, marrying psychedelia and blues in the Hour Glass, essaying an early version of “Melissa” in the 31st of February, and, especially, making himself heard on sessions for Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Laura Lee, King Curtis, and Arthur Conley recorded down in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (sessions with Aretha Franklin were cut up in New York). He’d also traded solos with Otis Rush and blazed a trail on Boz Scaggs’ eponymous 1969 LP, sessions that emphasized how his guitar was getting increasingly gutsy and gritty, characteristics that could be heard on the Allman Brothers Band’s 1969 debut. Positioned as it is here, the first Allmans album is not the start of something, but rather a pivotal point in a long journey that continued to unfold long afterward. On-stage, the Allmans improvised with imaginative ferocity, and the back half of Skydog showcases a restless, fearless musician, one who was eager to tangle with his idol Eric Clapton in Derek & the Dominos, rush on-stage with the Grateful Dead, guest with Delaney & Bonnie, and sit in with jazz flautist Herbie Mann. By the end of the set, Duane Allman seems to have had his hand in every kind of music being made in America at the turn of the ’60s, and the depth and scope of his achievement is staggering, especially when you consider that so much of this was recorded in a mere four years. While the records released by the Allman Brothers Band do hint at this range, Skydog tells a story unheard on any other Allman-related albums, including the excellent 1989 box Dreams. This is an epic narrative illustrating how soul, blues, country, psychedelia, jazz, and garage rock melded into modern rock & roll and, in turn, this is a biography of a musician who was instrumental in that evolution, a guitarist whose name is well-known but whose work is still not thoroughly appreciated. Skydog rights that wrong in glorious fashion.

Album Notes

Even if he’d never formed the Allman Brothers Band, Duane Allman would be a major figure in American popular music. Long before his name became known to mainstream audiences, he had already established his credentials as a once-in-a-lifetime guitar visionary, leaving his unmistakable stamp on a broad array of recordings. Rounder Records, a division of Concord Music Group, will release the most ambitious retrospective of Allman’s short but influential career titled Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective.

The deluxe seven-disc collection, carrying a list price of $139.98, contains the guitarist’s best-known and most commercially successful recordings with the Allman Brothers Band and Derek & the Dominos, as well as session work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Ronnie Hawkins, Otis Rush, Laura Nyro, Lulu, the Sweet Inspirations, Laura Lee, Spencer Wiggins, Arthur Conley, Willie Walker, the Lovelles, the Soul Survivors, Johnny Jenkins, John Hammond, Doris Duke, Eric Quincy Tate, Herbie Mann and more.

The set was produced by Galadrielle Allman (Duane’s daughter) and two-time Grammy® winning producer Bill Levenson. Rounder Records’ Scott Billington served as executive producer. Scott Schinder contributed comprehensive historical liner notes, complemented by additional notes by Galadrielle Allman.

In her recollection of her father, who died when she was a young child, Galadrielle writes, “I am very lucky that my father is Duane Allman, an artist who left behind a wealth of incredible music . . . Working on this retrospective, I have gotten closer than I ever have been to understanding my father’s development as a musician and a man.”

Duane Allman, known to his bandmates as Skydog, was born in Nashville in 1946. With Gregg, his only sibling, Duane had his first moment of musical revelation upon witnessing a late ’50s R&B bill that featured B.B. King and Jackie Wilson. By 1960, both Duane and Gregg owned guitars and played in a series of neighborhood garage bands in Tennessee and Florida. Continuing their interest in blues and R&B in the shadow of blues radio station WLAC-AM’s continent-spanning signal, as well as absorbing the influence of the British Invasion, the brothers launched the Escorts in 1965 and the Allman Joys, who recorded a handful of sides in Bradley’s Barn in Nashville in 1966. By 1967, Duane and Gregg signed to Liberty as the Hour Glass and recorded two albums in Nashville and Los Angeles. When the band sought to defy the label and spread its musical wings, they were dropped. The brothers returned to Florida, hooked up with drummer Butch Trucks, and recorded two sides as the 31st of February, and later at Ardent Studio in Memphis as the Bleus.

By this time Duane had developed a reputation as a leading session guitarist. He was on Fame Studio’s A list, his guitar licks coloring hits by Wilson Pickett. Atlantic Records producer and executive Jerry Wexler took note and hired him to perform on Atlantic sessions by King Curtis, Otis Rush, Arthur Conley, the Soul Survivors and Sweet Inspirations. Wexler signed him to a solo Atlantic deal, resulting in a session that contained the raucous original “Happily Married Man” and more. The session, contained on the Skydog set, was abandoned mid-stream. But by then Capricorn Records’ Phil Walden had noticed the rumblings from Muscle Shoals. Duane gathered up brother Gregg, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, Jai Johanny Johanson and others and the Allman Brothers Band was born.

According to reissue annotator Schinder, “The [Allman Brothers Band’s] music was complex and adventurous, yet unfailingly accessible. The subtle and harmonic interplay between Duane and Dickey’s dual lead guitars was matched by the three-man rhythm section’s surging, swinging cross-rhythms, with Gregg’s massively expressive singing and organ playing keeping the music firmly grounded in human emotion.” The band’s profile grew with each release — the self-titled debut, Idlewild South and eventually the band’s breakthrough, At Fillmore East.

Testament to his energy and ambition, Duane still found time for side projects. When bandmates would hole up at home after tours, Duane joined fellow world-class guitarist Eric Clapton on Derek & the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. While not an official member, he quickly emerged as a major contributor to the classic album, his twin guitar interplay with Clapton shaping the hits “Layla” and “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad.” He also worked with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and Laura Nyro between Allman Brothers Band projects.

By then acknowledged as one of rock’s premier guitarists, Duane and the Allman Brothers Band began recording their follow-up to At Fillmore East — Eat a Peach. Tom Dowd, another legendary Atlantic house producer, oversaw sessions at Criteria Studios. Then on October 29, 1971, four days after Fillmore had been certified gold, Duane was riding his motorcycle and swerved to avoid hitting a truck. He crashed and died of internal injuries. He was 24 years old.

The band forged ahead as a quintet on Eat a Peach, which became one of their best selling albums. The Allman Brothers, led by Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks, continue to perform to this day.

Schinder notes, “More than four decades after his death, Duane Allman remains a towering figure whose stature has only increased in his absence. His influence lives on, not only in the multiple generations of guitarists who have been motivated by his input, but also in the legions of listeners who have continued to find inspiration in his vibrant vision of American music, which remains as fresh and truthful today as when it was created.”

“When a musician of my father’s caliber dies, every note he ever recorded becomes even more precious,” writes Galadrielle. “Each song is pressed into the service of telling his story. The longer Duane is gone, the clearer it becomes that there will never be another like him.”

Over seven discs, Skydog tells the Duane Allman story with rare and never-before-heard gems alongside smash hits.

“I hope the celebration of Duane’s life inspires you to live fearlessly and enjoy life,” Galadrielle concludes. “I know that would have made him proud.”

  • 01

    Turn On Your Love Light

    The Escorts

  • 02

    No Name Instrumental

    The Escorts

  • 03

    What'd I Say

    The Escorts

  • 04


    The Allman Joys

  • 05

    Gotta Get Away

    The Allman Joys

  • 06

    Shapes Of Things

    The Allman Joys

  • 07


    The Allman Joys

  • 08

    Mister, You're a Better Man Than I

    The Allman Joys

  • 09

    Lost Woman

    The Allman Joys

  • 10

    Cast Off All My Fears

    Hour Glass

  • 11

    I've Been Trying

    Hour Glass

  • 12

    Nothing But Tears

    Hour Glass

  • 13

    Power Of Love

    Hour Glass

  • 14

    Down In Texas

    Hour Glass

  • 15

    Norwegian Wood

    Hour Glass

  • 16

    B.B. King Medley

    Hour Glass

  • 17

    Been Gone Too Long

    Hour Glass

  • 18

    Ain't No Good To Cry

    Hour Glass

  • 19

    Morning Dew

    31st Of February

  • 20


    31st Of February

  • 21

    Milk And Honey

    The Bleus

  • 22

    Leavin' Lisa

    The Bleus

  • 23

    Julianna's Gone

    The Bleus

  • 24

    -- Disc 2 --

  • 25

    The Road Of Love

    Clarence Carter

  • 26

    Light My Fire

    Clarence Carter

  • 27

    Hey Jude

    Wilson Pickett

  • 28

    Toe Hold

    Wilson Pickett

  • 29

    My Own Style Of Loving

    Wilson Pickett

  • 30

    Born To Be Wild

    Wilson Pickett

  • 31

    It's How You Make It Good

    Laura Lee

  • 32

    It Ain't What You Do (But How You Do It)

    Laura Lee

  • 33

    I Never Loved A Woman

    Spencer Wiggins

  • 34

    Ob - La

    Arthur Conley

  • 35

    Stuff You Gotta Watch

    Arthur Conley

  • 36

    Speak Her Name

    Arthur Conley

  • 37

    That Can't Be My Baby

    Arthur Conley

  • 38

    A Lucky Loser

    Willie Walker

  • 39

    I'm Coming Today

    The Lovelles

  • 40

    Pretending Dear

    The Lovelles

  • 41

    The Weight

    Aretha Franklin

  • 42

    It Ain't Fair

    Aretha Franklin

  • 43


    Soul Survivors

  • 44

    Tell Daddy

    Soul Survivors

  • 45

    Got Down On Saturday

    Soul Survivors

  • 46

    Hey Joe

    King Curtis

  • 47

    Foot Pattin'

    King Curtis

  • 48

    Games People Play

    King Curtis

  • 49

    The Weight

    King Curtis

  • 50

    Get A Little Order

    The Sweet Inspirations

  • 51

    -- Disc 3 --

  • 52

    Twice A Man

    The Barry Goldberg Blues Band

  • 53

    Goin' Down Slow

    Duane Allman

  • 54

    No Money Down

    Duane Allman

  • 55

    Happily Married Man

    Duane Allman

  • 56


    Otis Rush

  • 57

    Reap What You Sow

    Otis Rush

  • 58

    It Takes Time

    Otis Rush

  • 59

    Going Up The Country

    The Duck and the Bear

  • 60

    Hand Jive

    The Duck and the Bear

  • 61

    Finding Her

    Boz Scaggs

  • 62

    Look What I Got

    Boz Scaggs

  • 63

    Waiting For A Train

    Boz Scaggs

  • 64

    Loan Me A Dime

    Boz Scaggs

  • 65

    Don't Want You No More

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 66

    It's Not My Cross To Bear

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 67

    Black Hearted Woman

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 68

    Trouble No More

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 69

    -- Disc 4 --

  • 70

    Every Hungry Woman

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 71


    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 72

    Whipping Post

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 73

    One More Night

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 74

    Will The Circle Be Unbroken

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 75


    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 76

    Down In The Alley

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 77

    Who Do You Love

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 78

    Marley Purt Drive


  • 79

    Dirty Old Man


  • 80

    Mr. Bojangles


  • 81

    Sweep Around Your Own Back Door


  • 82

    I Walk On Gilded Splinters

    Johnny Jenkins

  • 83

    Rollin' Stone

    Johnny Jenkins

  • 84

    Down Along The Cove

    Johnny Jenkins

  • 85

    Voodoo In You

    Johnny Jenkins

  • 86

    Shake For Me

    John Hammond

  • 87

    Cryin' For My Baby

    John Hammond

  • 88

    I'm Leavin' You

    John Hammond

  • 89

    You'll Be Mine

    John Hammond

  • 90

    Ghost Of Myself

    Doris Duke

  • 91

    -- Disc 5 --

  • 92

    Comin' Down (demo)

    Eric Quincy Tate

  • 93

    Hoochie Coochie Man (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 94

    Midnight Rider

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 95

    Dimples (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 96

    I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 97

    Soul Shake

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 98

    Beads Of Sweat

    Laura Nyro

  • 99

    Don't Keep Me Wonderin'

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 100

    A Woman Left Lonely

    Ella Brown

  • 101

    Touch Me

    Ella Brown

  • 102

    More Than Enough Rain

    Bobby Lance

  • 103

    I Am Yours

    Derek & The Dominos

  • 104

    Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad

    Derek & The Dominos

  • 105

    Have You Ever Loved A Woman

    Derek & The Dominos

  • 106


    Derek & The Dominos

  • 107

    Mean Old World

    Eric Clapton & Duane Allman

  • 108

    -- Disc 6 --

  • 109

    Me And Bobby McGee

    Sam Samudio

  • 110


    Sam Samudio

  • 111

    Goin' Upstairs

    Sam Samudio

  • 112

    Don't Tell Me Your Troubles

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 113

    Sick And Tired

    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 114


    Ronnie Hawkins

  • 115

    Gift Of Love

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 116

    Sing My Way Home

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 117

    Statesboro Blues (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 118

    In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 119

    Sugar Magnolia (live)

    Grateful Dead

  • 120

    One Way Out (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 121

    Push Push

    Herbie Mann

  • 122

    Spirit In The Dark

    Herbie Mann

  • 123

    What'd I Say

    Herbie Mann

  • 124

    -- Disc 7 --

  • 125

    Come On In My Kitchen (live)

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 126

    Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 127

    Poor Elijah / Tribute To Johnson (medley) (live)

    Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

  • 128

    You Don't Love Me / Soul Serenade

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 129

    Please Be With Me


  • 130

    Stand Back

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 131

    Blue Sky

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 132

    Blue Sky (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 133

    Dreams (live)

    The Allman Brothers Band

  • 134

    Little Martha

    The Allman Brothers Band