You can't keep a good bluesman down.
Gregg Allman, frontman for the Allman Brothers Band, has released "Low Country Blues," his seventh solo album and his first in 14 years.
The release of the new CD was originally scheduled for last year but was held up by Allman's successful liver transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida last June, which followed his long battle with chronic Hepatitis C.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is currently on the road with a solo tour, which includes a date at Penn's Peak in JIm Thorpe Saturday night, which was rescheduled from Dec. 28. Show time is 8 p.m.
"Low Country Blues" was issued on Rounder Records and showcases Allman's take on some traditional blues giants, ranging from Muddy Waters and BB King to Buddy Guy and Magic Sam.
The album, recorded last year at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles, was produced by Grammy Award winner T Bone Burnett and features a sound that differs on the surface from the mix of rock, blues, jazz and country that is the Allman Brothers Band trademark but is still at the root of it.
Between his touring with ABB and the 2002 death of his long-time producer Tom Dowd, Allman hadn't focused much on studio work, which changed after a meeting with Burnett in Memphis. Allman's commercial peak as a solo artist came in 1987 with "I'm No Angel."
The album features accompaniment by the core band of Burnett and Doyle Bramhall II on guitars, bassist Dennis Crouch and drummer Jay Bellerose, and has a spare feeling to the arrangements, which works to the songs' favor.
Allman's singing sounds laid back and relaxed in his trademark bluesy with a taste of soul style. He also plays his Hammond B-3 organ and guitar as well. Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack adds some of his New Orleans piano playing as well.
Reportedly, many of the vocals used by Burnett were the first takes Allman recorded.
While the album is mainly blues covers, it does include an Allman original, "Just Another Rider", co-written by ABB guitarist Warren Haynes, that picks up on the imagery of some of his best work. This is familiar territory and Gregg is very much at home here.
"Floating Bridge," a tune by Sleepy John Estes, kicks off the album and is acoustic blues with a forboding feel.
"Little By Little" by Junior Wells would be at home with ABB, with Gregg's organ carrying it until "Night Tripper" Dr. John hits the ivories.
Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman" has Gregg riding the haunting guitar riff as he ponders whether he'd be better off with or without his lady.
Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied" is gently rollicking, riding the piano medley with some blues guitar licks mixed in. "I Believe I'll Go Back Home" is in a similar vein.
Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Blind Man" has some horns added to the mix to heighten the drama.
"Tears, Tears, Tears" from Amos Milburn, opens with organ licks before Gregg brings in the horns to punctuate his blues mood.
"Please Accept My Love", a BB King number, has an early rock and roll feel, with Gregg once again accompanied by the horn section.
"Checking on My Baby", an Otis Rush song, is low down and dirty drinking blues, with the guitar solo leaping out behind Gregg's "woe is me" wail.
The traditional "Rolling Stone" brings the album to its conclusion, with Gregg heading out on the road once again.
"Low Country Blues" is a masterful addition to Gregg Allman's recorded repertoire and one that suggests a fruitful direction to follow when he has time to stray from his day job with ABB.
Gregg Allman will perform at Penn's Peak on Saturday, Jan. 22. Doors open at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m. Tickets are $37 for the Pit (standing room only) and $32 for reserved seating. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com, at Ticketmaster outlets, including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, and at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies' Restaurant. For more information, call 1-866-605-7325.