If you think that The Allman Brothers Band would be hurting without Dickey Betts, I have two answers to that situation that most people felt was detrimental to the band, a guitar player named Warren Haynes and a new album called Hittin’ The Note.
Not only is the music food for though, so is the cover of the album. A small child stands in amazement at a mushroom growing out of barren dry land with a herd of elephants coming straight at him. The boy seems unaffected by what is coming his way because he is so amazed with the mushroom. Can you imagine having that much focus? There is a lot of meaning behind this image and when you open the case and pull the CD out of the tray there is an picture of several giant mushrooms with a large crowd paying tribute to them (which is obviously a concert crowd with mushrooms superimposed onto the image).
This has to be the best album that this band has recorded in 20 years. It absolutely floored me. I listened to this CD several times while shaking my head wondering where this band has been all these years. When the first few notes of "Firing Line" strike an iron into the fire and Gregg Allman starts singing, "You have been raisin’ hell since you were a child," you know without a doubt that the Allman Brothers are back in big way. Allman has not lost anything in the vocal department and Warren Haynes plays some of nastiest and meanest slide guitar on the planet, not to mention summoning up some of the most commanding and seasoned vocals in rock music. This is a band igniting their entire set of spark plugs at the same time. They have regained the quintessential spirit that drove them to great heights from 1969-1972.
"Instrumental Illness" is a remarkable flexing of their musical muscles. Songs like that display the kind of talent that they have at their disposal. Haynes and Allman alone are quite a combination, and then you have Derek Trucks on slide guitar and Butch Trucks behind the drum kit to kick up the energy level another few notches. "Desdemona" has some tight riffs weaving a colorful quilt of rock-blues and a peppering of jazz, which may surprise some of you long time fans. There is not a song under four minutes on this entire album, it harkens back to their heyday when album oriented rock was at its peak. Even their cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Heart of Stone" is good, and that usually does not work out very well when a band does a song so far out of character, once again, it proves out their tremendous resilience and talent. Some of the runs during the longer tracks are reminiscent of when Duane Allman was with the band and when Eric Clapton got together with him to make some of the most memorable blues-rock music ever recorded with Derek and the Dominoes. I do not think I could give this album a better compliment than that.
This is Southern Rock at its very best; it does not get any better than this, period. Half the year is gone and I already know that this album will make my top ten of 2003 without a problem. This music will bring a tear to your eye and offer some of the most distinctive bone-chilling guitar you will ever hear. If there is one album that is a ‘must have’ this year it is this one, get it.