http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/91a9ccc2e0fb98d3637ed11eb9c90abff29f9d48.jpg Idlewild South

The Allman Brothers Band

Idlewild South

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
December 24, 1970

Idlewood South is a big step forward from the Allmans' first — that combination of Santana and Led Zeppelin, with the Led finally weighing everything down — but its second side disappoints. Layla, on the other hand, sustains itself pretty well throughout, but we've heard a lot of it before.

The Allmans offer briefer, tighter, less "heavy" numbers this time around. "Revival" gets things off rousingly, with tambourine and gospel chorus abetting the Duane Allman / Dick Betts multi-guitared attack. The catchy tune suggests a strong single — "people, can you feel it, Love is everywhere!"

Then it's back to the blues for the bubbling slide guitar of "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'," followed by three rhythmic treats, with drummer Butch Trucks and conga-man Jai Johanny Johanson driving hard: "Midnight Rider" overlays acoustic and electric guitars effectively, while "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" resounds like Santana with guts. The twin guitars play tandem, then explode apart (Duane taking the upper register, I think). Brother Greg's comping organ and the rhythm trio set a high-rolling tempo, then, and it just goes and goes for a stupendous, and unnoticed, seven minutes.

Finally, blues with a feeling, as bassist Berry Oakley takes on the vocal to "Hootchie Coochie Man" with a vengeance. Never thought I'd like this tune again, but the band unleashes a charge of energy that leaves the phonograph wires smoking. A powerhouse cut.

The rest is silence — or should be. "Please Call Home" and "Leave My Blues at Home" add nothing, sounding respectively like a Buddy Miles parody and an Allman Brothers first-album reject. Let the first five suffice.

When we turn to Derek and the Dominos, we find . . . Duane Allman again. Plus some confusion as well. Duane and Eric play twin leads on the expected to join the group's album, and Duane was also American tour. But no cut-by-cut credits help the listener differentiate ("You should be able to tell;" sneer the musicians; "It's all Eric," babble the fans) — and the tour has gone ahead without Duane.

At least Layla survives to tell the tale. As for whose guitar is playing what, Duane provides most of the bottlenecking (but not all, I'll wager), while Eric continues in his recent vein of sharp, stinging, high-pitched, harmonic-overtones picking. Behind them, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, and Carl Radle demonstrate again and again that Booker T. and the MG's no longer have a corner on the Memphis-tight rhythm market.

A double album means you can expect some filler. Among the weak cuts: "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out." "Tell The Truth," "Bell-Bottom Blues," "Have You Ever Loved A Woman," and "Thorn Tree In the Garden." Happily, what remains is what you hoped for from the conjunction of Eric's developing style, the Delaney and Bonnie styled rhythm section, and the strengths of "Skydog" Allman's session abilities. And Clapton's singing is always at least adequate, and sometimes quite good. Among the high points:

"I Looked Away" — relentless rhythmic cooking and guitars spread up and down the scale; should be a single.

"Keep On Growing" — Jim's drum-fire, while Eric and Bobby drive each other, trading the vocal back and forth.

"Anyday" — the full-tilt crashing intro, Duane slippin' and a-slidin', the chorus shouting "Anyday, anyday, I could see you smile," the sparks of energy spit throughout; a cut even great than the sum of its parts.

Broonzy's "Key to the Highway," the celebrated walking blues for nine straight and solid minutes — some early echochamber effects but, most amazing, the incredibly complex machinations of Eric and Duane: pushing and prodding. picking and cutting, trading insults and inspirations. (It's just unfortunate they tried it again a side later as "Have You Ever Loved a Woman.")

Hendrix's "Little Wing" — surges of Bolero-like chording, a strangled and mournful vocal.

"It's Too Late" — slide work set so high as to alter your mind, a forceful rendition of Chuck Willis.

And, at last, "Layla" — another powerful opening, a strange Bobby Blandish chorus ("Layla, you got me on my knees; Layla, I'm beggin' you, please"), a streaming and churning mid-section, and a lengthy piano solo (by Bobby?) edged by almost-unheard guitars that becomes an extended fade a la Nicky Hopkins.

Idlewild South augurs well for the Allmans' future. And as for Layla, forget any indulgences and filler — it's still one hell of an album. Clapton's not God, but him and Skydog and the Dominos together do make for an hour or so of heaven. Maybe critics, audience, and musicians can agree, just this once.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Wake Up Everybody”

    John Legend and the Roots | 2010

    A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

    More Song Stories entries »