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Idlewild South

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Idlewild South
Idlewild South cover.jpg
Studio album by The Allman Brothers Band
Released September 23, 1970
Recorded February–July 1970
Capricorn Sound Studios
(Macon)
Criteria Studios, Atlantic South
(Miami)
Regent Sound Studios
(New York City)
Genre Southern rock, blues, blues rock
Length 30:48
Label Atco, Capricorn
Producer Tom Dowd
The Allman Brothers Band chronology
The Allman Brothers Band
(1969)
Idlewild South
(1970)
At Fillmore East
(1971)
Singles from Idlewild South
  1. "Revival (Love Is Everywhere)"
    Released: November 1970

Idlewild South is the second studio album by American Southern rock band the Allman Brothers Band. Produced by Tom Dowd, the album was released on September 23, 1970, in the United States by Atco Records and Capricorn Records.

Following the release of their 1969 debut, the Allman Brothers Band toured the United States extensively to promote the album, which had little commercial success. Their performances, however, did create positive word of mouth exposure that extended to more famous musicians, such as Eric Clapton, who invited group leader Duane Allman to contribute to his 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

As a result of the band's relentless touring schedule, Idlewild South was recorded gradually over a period of five months in various cities, including New York, Miami, and Macon, Georgia, the band's home. Tom Dowd had previously been sought to record the group's debut but had been unavailable. The material presented on Idlewild South was written during this period and tested out on the road at shows. The album's title comes from the band's nickname for a rustic cabin the band rented out and used for rehearsals, as well as parties. Idlewild South contains two of the band's best-known songs, "Midnight Rider" (later a hit for various artists) and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", which became one of the band's famous concert numbers.

The album was released in September 1970 but again failed to achieve significant success. Sales began to grow, however, due to over 300 shows the band put on in 1970, setting the stage for their artistic and commercial breakthrough with 1971's live follow-up album, At Fillmore East.

Background[edit]

By August 1969, the Allman Brothers had recorded their self-titled debut, which was released that November.[1] The record received a poor commercial response, selling less than 35,000 copies upon initial release.[2] Executives suggested to the band's manager and Capricorn president, Phil Walden, that he relocate the band to New York or Los Angeles to increase their exposure. "They wanted us to act "like a rock band" and we just told them to "fuck themselves," remembered Trucks.[3] For their part, the members of the band remained optimistic, electing to stay in the South. "Everyone told us we'd fall by the wayside down there," said Gregg Allman,[3] but the collaboration between the band and Capricorn Records "transformed Macon from this sleepy little town into a very hip, wild, and crazy place filled with bikers and rockers."[4] In March 1970, Oakley's wife rented a large Victorian home on 2321 Vineville Avenue in Macon, which they dubbed "the Big House".[5]

Idlewild South was the band's first effort with Dowd, known for his work with Cream and John Coltrane. Dowd first heard the band rehearsing while visiting Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, asking their name and remarking to Walden, "Get them the hell out of there and give them to me in the studio. They don't need to rehearse; they're ready to record".[6] Dowd was initially scheduled to work with the band on their debut but was called away at the last minute. Initially, the band had asked friend and colleague Johnny Sandlin to produce the album, but as recording inched closer, it became obvious they wanted him to co-produce with Dowd.[6] In one of their first sessions, Sandlin was giving suggestions and acting as a co-producer, though no one had informed Dowd; Sandlin was embarrassed and did not return to the studio.[6]

Recording and production[edit]

They had to get on the road to support themselves. They were working 300 days a year. So they would just blow in and do some songs and blow out. That was it — in and out — just like that.

Producer Tom Dowd[7]

The band moved to Criteria Studios in Miami, where Dowd felt more comfortable producing albums; he viewed the then-new Capricorn studio as still a work-in-progress and unfit to record in.[8] The band was constantly on the road while Idlewild South was developed, leading to a fractured recording process completed in fits and stops. They reconvened with Dowd during short breaks from shows.[9] In addition, group leader Duane Allman still received invitations to play as a session musician elsewhere; on the "rare instances when [the band] could return to Macon for a short break", Allman would hit the road for New York, Miami, or Muscle Shoals to contribute to other artists' sessions.[7] On days that the band would be available, manager Walden phoned Dowd to inform him; he would often catch their show and spend the rest of the night in the studio.[9] After nearly half a year and over three different recording studios, production wrapped up by July 1970.[10]

Instead of using multitrack recording (which was quickly gaining popularity), the Allman Brothers Band opted to cut most of Idlewild South live, with all of the musicians performing together.[7] On rare occasions would they go back to overdub sections that weren't up to standard. "The idea is that part of the thing of the Allman Brothers is the spontaneity — the elasticity. The parts and tempos vary in a way that only they are sensitive to", said Dowd.[7] Duane often left a song alone for more work and testing out on the road.[9] "They would record maybe five songs. Then they might say, 'I don't think that song was good enough,' or, 'I don't think that song was ready to record,", remembered Dowd.[9] Joel Dorn, predominantly a jazz producer for Atlantic, stepped in to produce one song on the album, "Please Call Home". (More songs were recorded, but only "Please Call Home" was released).[11] The band were in New York at the time and Dowd was unavailable.[12]

Following the recording process, Duane was invited to join Eric Clapton and his new group Derek & the Dominos on the recording of their debut album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.[13] Clapton later formally invited Allman to join the group, but he reluctantly declined, expressing loyalty to the members of the Allman Brothers and musical concept that had birthed it.[14]

Composition[edit]

"Midnight Rider" came together when Gregg Allman and a roadie broke into the studio late one night to record it.[15]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Revival" initially took shape as an instrumental, with lyrics as an afterthought.[8] "An instrumental has to be real catchy and when you succeed it's very satisfying because you have transcended words and communicated with emotion," said Betts.[8] The song takes on a decidedly gospel flair midway through, accentuated by "old-fashioned church-like hand clapping."[16] The Gregg Allman-penned "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" follows, featuring Duane on slide guitar and Oakley's friend Thom Doucette on harmonica.[17] "Midnight Rider" developed quickly and featured lyrics contributed by roadie Robert Payne, who threw out a suggestion to Gregg Allman while together at their equipment warehouse.[15] Unable to gain a key to the nearby Capricorn Sound Studios, the duo broke in and recorded a quick demo with Twiggs Lyndon on bass and Johanson on congas.[15] Duane eventually laid down acoustic guitar tracks for both "Revival" and "Midnight Rider", as he was quicker to record and more technically savvy due to his session work in Muscle Shoals.[18]

"In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" was inspired by a woman Betts was involved with in Macon, the girlfriend of musician Boz Scaggs.[8] "She was Hispanic and somewhat dark and mysterious—and she really used it to her advantage and played it to the hilt," said Betts.[8] To cloak her identity, the song is named after a headstone Betts saw at the Rose Hill Cemetery, where band members often ventured in their early days to relax and write songs.[8] Considerable legend developed about the song's genesis, much fueled by a put-on interview Duane Allman gave Rolling Stone.[19] The song is Betts' first composition recorded by the band.[20] "Hoochie Coochie Man" was the band's rearrangement of a Muddy Waters tune culled from bassist Berry Oakley and Betts' days performing the number in their earlier band the Second Coming.[18] Featuring Oakley in his only studio vocal, it is nearly twice as fast as Waters' original.[21] "Please Call Home" was cut in New York with jazz producer Joel Dorn in two takes, with Johanson switching from brushes to a mallet on the second, final take.[22] "Leave My Blues at Home" contains hints of funk and an extended fade out of the band's signature twin lead guitars."[21]

Title[edit]

The album's title came from a nickname of a rented cabin the band shared, the "Idlewild South".

The album's title came from the band's nickname for a $165-a-month cabin it rented on a lake outside of Macon early in its days there, the busy comings and goings at which reminded them of New York City's Idlewild Airport.[23] Idlewild South was the home of rehearsals and parties, and was "where the brotherhood came to pass," according to roadie Kim Payne; "There was a pact made out there around a campfire—all for one and one for all. ... Everybody believed [in the band] 100 percent."[23] Much of the material presented on the album originated at the cabin.[23]

Scott Boyer spoke on the cabin's history in the 2008 book Skydog: The Duane Allman Story:

It was like a hunting cabin. The back of the house had a porch that was built out over a manmade lake that was maybe five or six acres. It was a cabin made out of old pinewood, and it had been there for a long time. ... The Allman Brothers used it as a rehearsal facility — that and a place to go maybe to consume a little something that wasn't quite legal. There were parties out there."[24]

Release and reception[edit]

Idlewild South was issued by Atco and Capricorn Records on September 23, 1970, less than a year after the band's debut album.[23] It sold only "marginally better, in spite of the band's growing national reputation, and included songs that would become staples of its repertoire—and eventually of rock radio."[25] While the album did help boost the band's popularity, the Allman Brothers' name really grew in fame due to their live performances.[26] Walden doubted the band's future, worrying whether they would ever catch on, but word of mouth spread due to the band's relentless touring schedule, and crowds got larger.[25]

Rolling Stone's Ed Leimbacher wrote that Idlewild South "augurs well for the Allmans' future," calling it "a big step forward from the Allmans' first" but considered the second side of the LP a disappointment.[27] Robert Christgau at The Village Voice gave the album a "B+" and considered it a companion piece to Duane Allman's work on Layla, noting that "a lot of people think that Duane Allman is already a ranking titan of the electric guitar."[28] A retrospective five-star review from Bruce Eder at Allmusic deemed it "the best studio album in the group's history, electric blues with an acoustic texture, virtuoso lead, slide, and organ playing, and a killer selection of songs."[29]

Accolades[edit]

Rolling Stone listed it among the most "groundbreaking" albums in 2014, covering its impact on Southern rock: "On their second album, the Allman Brothers transmogrified from mere blues-rockers to an assemblage creating an entirely new kind of Southern music."[30]

Year Publication Country Rank List
2014 Rolling Stone U.S. * The 40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time[30]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Gregg Allman, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Revival"   4:05
2. "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'"     3:31
3. "Midnight Rider"  
  • Allman
  • Robert Payne
3:00
4. "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed"  
  • Betts
6:56
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Hoochie Coochie Man"   4:57
6. "Please Call Home"     4:02
7. "Leave My Blues at Home"     4:17

Personnel[edit]

All credits adapted from liner notes.[32]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
position
Billboard Top LP's[33] 38

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Freeman 1996, p. 59.
  2. ^ Paul 2014, p. 64.
  3. ^ a b Paul 2014, p. 65.
  4. ^ Paul 2014, p. 66.
  5. ^ Paul 2014, p. 71.
  6. ^ a b c Paul 2014, p. 72.
  7. ^ a b c d Poe 2008, p. 144.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Paul 2014, p. 73.
  9. ^ a b c d Poe 2008, p. 143.
  10. ^ Poe 2008, p. 150.
  11. ^ Poe 2008, p. 147.
  12. ^ Poe 2008, p. 148.
  13. ^ Paul 2014, p. 82.
  14. ^ Paul 2014, p. 89.
  15. ^ a b c Paul 2014, p. 74.
  16. ^ Poe 2008, p. 151.
  17. ^ Freeman 1996, p. 72.
  18. ^ a b Paul 2014, p. 79.
  19. ^ Patterson, R. Gary (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-4423-0.  pp. 42–43.
  20. ^ Freeman 1996, p. 73.
  21. ^ a b Poe 2008, p. 153.
  22. ^ Paul 2014, p. 75.
  23. ^ a b c d Paul 2014, p. 92.
  24. ^ Poe 2008, p. 154.
  25. ^ a b Paul 2014, p. 94.
  26. ^ Freeman 1996, p. 74.
  27. ^ Ed Leimbacher (December 24, 1970). "Reviews: Idlewild South and Layla". Rolling Stone (New York City: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.) (73): 51. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  28. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 11, 1971). "Consumer Guide (16)". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  29. ^ Bruce Eder. "Review: Idlewild South". Allmusic. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "The 40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). December 5, 2014. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c "Allman Brothers Band's Second Album, Idlewild South, Marks 45th Anniversary With Remastered CD, Two-CD Deluxe, Three-CD and Blu-Ray Super Deluxe Versions" (Press release). Los Angeles. PR Newswire. November 11, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2015. 
  32. ^ Idlewild South (liner notes). The Allman Brothers Band. US: Atco. 1970. SD 33-342. 
  33. ^ The Allman Brothers Band - Awards - AllMusic. AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2014.

References[edit]

  • Paul, Alan (2014). One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-250-04049-7. 
  • Freeman, Scott (1996). Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-29452-2. 
  • Poe, Randy (2008). Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-939-8. 
  • Allman, Gregg; Light, Alan (2012). My Cross to Bear. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-211203-3. 

External links[edit]