Win, Lose or Draw (album)
|Win, Lose or Draw|
|Studio album by The Allman Brothers Band|
February - July 1975 |
Capricorn Sound Studios, Macon, GA and The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
|Genre||Southern rock, blues rock|
The Allman Brothers Band
|The Allman Brothers Band chronology|
Win, Lose or Draw is the fifth studio album by American rock band the Allman Brothers Band. Produced by Johnny Sandlin and the band themselves, the album was released in August 1975 in the United States by Capricorn Records. The band had previously released their fourth record, Brothers and Sisters, in 1973 to critical and commercial success. The band toured the following year, attracting large crowds and earning substantial amounts of money, all while internal tension grew between the members. Vocalist Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts released solo albums — The Gregg Allman Tour and Highway Call, both issued that fall — which prompted speculation on the band's unity. It was the last album to feature bassist Lamar Williams and pianist Chuck Leavell.
When the band regrouped to work on Win, Lose or Draw, unresolved issues arose in rehearsals. The band was particularly critical of Allman's decision to move to Los Angeles, as well as his tabloid relationship with pop star Cher. With miscommunication and anger at an all-time high, the band pieced together the album over a period of several months, in stark contrast to their usual recording methods. Band members often could not be present in the studio at the same time.
Reviews of the album were negative, commenting on a lack of energy, formulaic songwriting, and indifferent sound. The album reached #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart based on their previous popularity. The record had been highly anticipated a year earlier, but now the Allmans' moment was passing.
Brothers and Sisters, the Allman Brothers Band's fourth studio album, was released in August 1973 to substantial commercial success. The band began playing arenas and stadiums almost exclusively as their drug use escalated. By 1974, the band were regularly making $100,000 per show, and were renting the Starship, a customized Boeing 720B used by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones. The band toured from May to August 1974 for 25 shows, but took a break following its completion due to growing tensions. The band received nearly $150,000 for their spot at the Georgia Jam in June, playing alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band. The band also performed their first overseas concerts, in London and Amsterdam.
In August, Betts released his first solo album, the country-flavored Highway Call. Having wanted to focus on his musical roots, he employed a Southern gospel group, the Rambos, on background vocals, as well as Vassar Clements on fiddle and John Hughey on steel guitar. The album eventually climbed to number 19 on Billboard’s Top Pop Albums chart. Meanwhile, Allman began to orchestrate a large solo tour to support his solo album Laid Back, which visited all major cities for 35 shows in the fall. To promote the tour, he decided to release a second solo album, titled The Gregg Allman Tour, a live record composed of recordings made at Carnegie Hall and the Capitol Theatre in New Jersey. For the two musicians, it became somewhat of a sibling rivalry, as rumors began to rise regarding the band's unity. For the tour, Allman brought along Jaimoe and Leavell, which incensed Betts. Drummer Butch Trucks was also offended, as he now had no one to play music with. "The whole thing seemed to frustrate everyone—and it didn't help that we were all taking our turns with whatever drugs happened to be around," said Allman. By the new year, Allman was spending considerable time in Los Angeles and was dating pop star Cher, whom he married in June 1975. Their relationship was oftentimes tabloid news, as Allman became "more famous for being famous" than for his music.
Recording and production
Producer Johnny Sandlin
Win, Lose or Draw was recorded from February to July 1975, in sessions that were described as "noncohesive." Tensions had risen to all-time highs within the group. Allman arrived a day late to a rehearsal early on in the recording process, leading the other members to "pummel" him with inquiries about his future with the group and decision to move to Los Angeles, as well as his relationship with Cher. In truth, the tension stemmed not from his relationship or relocation to Los Angeles, but from his and Betts's respective solo albums. The tension was amplified by numerous drugs the band were constantly using. “In the end I probably did spend too much time out in California,” Allman said. “But at that point it was easy to run; those sessions were the worst experience I ever had in a studio.” Sandlin flew to Los Angeles to record Allman's vocals at the Record Plant.
Sessions typically began at 9pm, and oftentimes barely started because band members would not show up. Previous Allman Brothers albums were cut live to tape, but Win, Lose or Draw primarily found the members piecing it together. While Jaimoe and Leavell seemed to be in high spirits, the rest of the band members' issues "become out in the open in the studio." Rehearsals typically consisted of just Jaimoe, Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams, who started joking that they should form a band named We Three. Despite their dedication, they sometimes neglected to show up as well, leading Sandlin and Bill Stewart to perform drums on several tracks. Allman later wrote that it appeared as though Betts only cared about his compositions, and tried to "dictate the entire process." In the spring, Allman fell off his motorcycle and broke his right wrist. Betts used this as ammunition, accusing him of injuring himself on purpose so that the Allman Brothers could not tour. In addition, the relationship between him and Trucks had soured. "We'd taken time off, but that had only exaggerated the problems between our personalities. With each day there was more and more space between us; the Brotherhood was fraying, and there wasn’t a damn thing any of us could do to stop it," said Allman.
Sandlin called Win, Lose or Draw the hardest record he ever produced. "It was so weird. It wasn't fun at all. It was rough for me, and it was rough for them. […] It was just sad."
The cover, designed by Twiggs Lyndon, depicts an interior shot of an deserted Old West saloon. "A poker table topped with half-empty whiskey bottles, cards, and chips sits front and center, surrounded by six empty chairs representing the then-current members." Likewise, two empty chairs lean against a table in the background, representing past members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. "I never exactly understood that cover. I've heard a lot of interpretations and each one went deeper and deeper. All I know for sure is it’s kind of alarming," said Sandlin.
|Rolling Stone||(Not Rated)|
|The Village Voice||C|
Win, Lose or Draw did not perform on the same scale as its predecessors, neither critically nor commercially.
The Allman Brothers would dissolve in acrimony the following year, and a late 1970s reunion attempt notwithstanding, would not reclaim their spot in the American musical pantheon until their successful 1989 reformation.
The band has since looked back at Win, Lose or Draw with mixed perception. "The main problem with Win, Lose or Draw is simply that none of us were really into the music," remarked Trucks. "Everyone was into getting fucked up and fucking. We were into being rock stars and the music became secondary. When we heard the finished music, we were all embarrassed." Allman agreed with this sentiment: "Win, Lose or Draw was a perfect reflection of our situation in 1975. It was basically all over with the Allman Brothers Band."
- "Can't Lose What You Never Had" (Muddy Waters) - 5:49
- "Just Another Love Song" (Dickey Betts) - 2:44
- "Nevertheless" (Gregg Allman) - 3:32
- "Win, Lose or Draw" (Gregg Allman) - 4:45
- "Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John" (Dickey Betts) - 3:45
- "High Falls" (Dickey Betts) - 14:28
- "Sweet Mama" (Billy Joe Shaver) - 3:32
- Gregg Allman — lead vocals, organ, clavinet and acoustic guitar
- Richard Betts — lead guitar, slide guitar, lead vocals and acoustic guitar
- Jaimoe — drums and percussion
- Chuck Leavell — piano, electric piano, Moog synthesizer, clavinet and background vocals
- Butch Trucks — drums, congas, percussion and timpani
- Lamar Williams — electric bass
- Johnny Sandlin — acoustic guitar, drums and percussion
- Bill Stewart — drums
- Produced by Johnny Sandlin and The Allman Brothers Band
- Engineered by Sam Whiteside
- Assistant Engineer - Carolyn Harriss
- Remixed by Johnny Sandlin, Sam Whiteside and Carolyn Harriss at Capricorn Sound Studios
- Paul 2014, p. 230.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 243.
- Poe 2008, p. 234.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 244.
- Paul 2014, p. 234.
- Paul 2014, p. 235.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 250.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 251.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 252.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 253.
- Allman & Light 2012, p. 254.
- Paul 2014, p. 236.
- Eder, Bruce (2011). "Win, Lose or Draw - The Allman Brothers Band | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Glover, Tony (2011). "The Allman Brothers Band: Win, Lose Or Draw : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Christgau, Robert (October 27, 1975). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
- "American album certifications – Allman Brothers – Win, Lose or Draw". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
- Paul, Alan (2014). One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250040497.
- Freeman, Scott (1996). Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316294522.
- Poe, Randy (2008). Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0879309398.
- Allman, Gregg; Light, Alan (2012). My Cross to Bear. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0062112033.