Thursday, October 3, 2019

#1 Allman Brothers (+ Paw bonus)

And we're officially underway! Card number 1, here we go.

While the SuperStars set is mainly comprised of pop acts of '91, it kicks off with a 25-card subset of Legends (some who were still active at the time, and some not), heavy on classic rock.


As we'll see on the blog going forward, many acts have multiple MusiCards. I'll do my best to let you know if that's the case in each post, as well as mentioning if the card has any variations I'm aware of.

But this is the only Allman Brothers card. Features a nice outdoor shot of the band hanging out in front of a gate. Looks like it was a contemporary photo, rather than one from their 70s heyday.


They get the honor of being card #1 in the set, though that has more to do with them coming first alphabetically rather than Pro Set saluting the band. The set is more or less comprised of subsets, with the acts in each subset being in alphabetical order.. but we'll take a closer look at the checklist's quirks another time.

The Allman Brothers are beloved today by old-timers, though I don't know if young people are discovering them very often these days. I think my father-in-law would call them his all-time favorite band. One year for Christmas, I bought him The Allman Brothers Band: Live at Beacon Theatre on DVD. Another year, for a stocking stuffer, I downloaded and burned for him a bootleg live DVD of some various Allman Brothers performances. I watched it to make sure the quality was good enough, and I enjoyed it, and if you asked me if I like them, I'd say yes. But honestly I've never gotten all that into them. The only Allman Brothers Band song I can name off the top of my head is "Ramblin' Man". I realize that's similar to somebody saying they like Nirvana but can only name "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and true ABB fans would roll their eyes at me.

As for a condensed bio of the band: they formed in 1969 out of Jacksonville, Florida. The brothers at the heart of the band were Duane Allman (founder, slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, keyboards, songwriting). Their 1971 live release, At Fillmore East, was their breakout album. Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident later that year, but the band continued on, on-again/off-again for many years. As the back of the card alludes to, they had recently reformed in 1989 after several years on hiatus, and in fact would continue as an active band from then all the way till playing their final concert on October 28, 2014. Gregg Allman passed away from cancer in 2017 at the age of 69. Check their Wikipedia entry for a more in depth write-up.

Ok, so I kinda also know another Allman Brothers song, "Whipping Post", which I was thinking was maybe Skynyrd, I'm embarrassed to admit. I would imagine they get mentioned in the same breath with Lynyrd Skynyrd a lot, both being southern rock legends of the 70s that lost key members early into their run. (We'll cover Skynyrd when we eventually get to card #263, in the Legends subset of Series 2.)

Let me know your favorite Allman Brothers songs in the comments and I'll check them out.

But for now I'm gonna just take the easy way and stick with "Ramblin' Man" as the featured song here...

Allman Brothers - "Ramblin' Man"

Sure it might be overplayed at this point, a staple of classic rock radio, but gotta admit it's a hell of a song. The ending seems to go on forever but still you never want it to stop. Such a nice riff. I have a memory of sitting alone in my car in the early '00s listening to this song on a hot summer afternoon between classes at SDSU, and while I had heard it many times before, the stars aligned and it struck a special chord with me in that peaceful moment. Sometimes when I hear the song now, it takes me back to that warm, easy-going day in the sparsely populated parking lot.


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This is the part of the post where we pivot from the subject of the card onto an act that doesn't have a card in the set, and I whip up a custom MusiCard for them. Sometimes it will be a band from that era that didn't get a card for whatever reason, and sometimes it will be a more recent favorite band of mine that wasn't even around in 1991.

Paw custom 1991 MusiCards-That-Never-Were

When I think of the Allman Brothers Band, one of the first things I think of is the song by the band Paw called "Remora" that includes a clip from an ABB live album near the end.

Paw - "Remora"

Paw is a rock band from Lawrence, Kansas who formed in 1990. So technically they could have been included in the 1991 MusiCards set, though it would have been a stretch as they were still a garage band at the time. They didn't gain popularity until their 1993 alt-rock hit "Jessie" about a kid who runs away and his dog that follows him. The style of music could probably be described as southern grunge. I love how they mix chunky guitar riffs with soft acoustic sections in some of their songs. Really keeps the tunes interesting. The lyrics are sometimes furiously yelled, and other times it's like gentle bedtime storytelling.

Like I said, they formed in 1990 and put out a couple early 7" singles. Then when Nirvana got huge, record labels were looking for new bands with a similar sound, and Paw signed to A&M Records, releasing their first album Dragline in 1993. Singles "Jessie", "Couldn't Know", and "Sleeping Bag" got moderate play on alternative radio and MTV. The band toured with Tool and got some of their songs used in the popular Road Rash video game.

Paw - "Jessie"

Their sophomore album, Death To Traitors, came out in 1995. Sales were down and the band was dropped by their label. In '98, they self-released a rarities CD entitled Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself. They rallied for a solid mini-album (longer than an EP, but not quite a full album) called Home Is A Strange Place in 2000 before parting ways. They've done a half-assed reunion stint once or twice since, but that's it.

Frontman Mark Hennessy has been in other bands post-Paw which are pretty good too, but not quite on the same level as Paw. He's recently started calling one of these new bands "Paw" even though he's the only original member. Us fans'll be curious to see what this Paw version 2.0 ends up doing. New album? Touring?

AS FOR ME...

I fell in love with the band after hearing "Jessie" on 91X (San Diego's alternative station at the time) a couple times in mid '93. My friend Chris got the Dragline CD from the BMG music club (you know.. buy 1 cd and get 5 for free or whatever semi-scam they peddled) and let me borrow it. I loved it and eventually traded him for it (though I can't remember what for.. possibly some baseball cards or a couple cans of soda). The same friend scored an advance promo copy of the next album a couple years later and hooked me up with it. Gotta say I thought Death to Traitors was a massive disappointment at the time, though I've since come to regard it as a solid album, even if not on the same level as the debut. Whereas the first album blended hard and soft elements into the same song, the second album was more straightforward with those dynamics.. so there were rocking songs, and there were mellow acoustic songs, but no songs that were hybrids, so to speak. And that was a bummer for me.

In '98 or so, I bought the rarities album Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself from the band's website. While I would have rather gotten a completely new album, it did have a few great previously unreleased tracks on it, so I was happy about that. Made in limited quantities, KTLBFY is somewhat of a collector's item these days, rarely popping up for sale, and commanding a high price when it does.

Then one day in 2000, I was in Lou's Records in Encinitas, CA perusing the sections for my favorite bands, mainly looking for import CD singles that might have rare b-sides I needed to hear. It was a huge shock when I found a brand new Paw CD among their older albums. I hadn't heard anything about it before then, so it was an extremely pleasant surprise. And when I popped in Home Is A Strange Place for a listen, I thought it was a terrific return to form. (Yes, the "hybrid" songs were back!) At only 7 tracks long, it leaves you wanting more, but that would turn out to be the band's swansong.


In 2002, I created a Paw fansite-- it's moved once or twice over the years, but it's currently located at defgav.com/paw. Back in the '00s, making and maintaining fansites for bands I liked was one of my favorite pastimes. (I wasn't collecting cards at the time, and my lovelife was nonexistent and I spent most of the decade lonely and unemployed, so I had plenty of free time for shit like that.) The site was basically an exercise for me to research the band's discography (including stuff like rare singles and known live recordings) and put all my findings in one place. I don't do anything with the site these days, but it's still up as a resource for Paw fans. I was a little surprised to find that they've still got a strong, active following on their Facebook page these days.

Sadly, I never saw the band live, as their days of gigging outside their local area were done by the time I was actively going to concerts. I've got a couple dozen live recordings of varying quality, so although I haven't actually seen them live, I've got a pretty good idea what their shows were like. They seemed pretty fun.. like often passing around a bottle of whiskey for the audience to share. And Mark would sometimes rif cover song lyrics while the band jammed ("Gold Dust Woman" by Fleetwood Mac was a common one).

One highlight of my fandom was when Grant, Paw's guitarist, emailed me through my fansite with details regarding one of their brief reunions; I think it was back in 2008. Another little claim to fame for me in the Paw community is that I played a big part in uncovering rare demos the band recorded prior to the second album. They weren't circulating amongst fans, but I heard a rumor about a guy who had it via digital audio tape (a relatively obscure format), managed to track down the guy, and was persistent in my friendly pestering him to convert the DAT, which he eventually did and together we shared the songs (many of which were unreleased and never heard by fans up to that point) to many happy Paw fans. Oh, and then I was contacted by the guy who played bass on the recording and he gave me some more details about it, so that was pretty cool.

Paw -  "Year of the Locust"

This is probably my favorite of those unearthed tracks.

As far as collectable Paw stuff in my collection, I've got the aforementioned Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself cd, plus their two early 7" singles-- on sweet-ass colored vinyl! Think I've still got the advance promo cd of Death To Traitors, too.


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Here's a segment where I put myself in a hypothetical conundrum of imminently being stranded on a desert island and I'm only allowed a self-curated "best of" playlist of the band to bring with me, trying to limit it to 20 or so songs.

Paw - desert island disc
1. Gasoline
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Jessie
4. The Bridge
5. Couldn't Know
6. Pansy
7. Lolita
8. Dragline
9. Veronica
10. One More Bottle
11. Sugarcane
12. Hard Pig
13. No Such Luck
14. Max The Silent
15. One Handed in the Red Room
16. Blow Wind
17. Home Is a Strange Place
18. Remora
19. Kid Cotton
20. Street Justice (Twisted Sister cover)
21. 30 Days
22. Year of the Locust
23. Goodbye Dress

(1-12) Dragline in its entirety. My least favorite song here is "Pansy" but only because I think it should have been titled "Jack Knife" instead.
(13-14) My two favorite songs from Death To Traitors.
(15-17) Highlights from Home Is A Strange Place. Ideally I'd include all 7 tracks if I had room.
(18-21) Some choice non-LP tracks from Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself.
(22-23) A pair of unreleased songs from the DTT Demos. (Attn: baseball fans, "Goodbye Dress" mentions Willie Mays.)

Tried to keep it to 20 songs, but had to squeeze on a couple more (and "Kid Cotton" was a last minute addition I couldn't in good conscious leave off). Yeah, I could give this compilation a lot of plays and not get sick of it. Honorable mention to their Cheap Trick cover of "Surrender" that was released on the S.F.W. soundtrack (never saw it) and their "School" Nirvana cover that often closed their live shows (to remind themselves that being a rock star is supposed to be fun).

COVER TIME
Here's a half-assed acoustic cover of "Jessie" I just recorded for this post: Fiberoctopus-Jessie.mp3
I think this is the only Paw song I know how to play somewhat. I taught myself a bastardization of it back in the early 90s and have continued to rock it out from time to time when messing around on guitar.

Ok, that'll do it for now. Don't expect all posts on this blog to be so long, but I guess I just had a lot to say about the Allman Brothers and Paw.

Coming up next is someone who was a bandmate of Duane Allman in the short-lived band Derek and the Dominos: none other than Eric Clapton.

12 comments:

  1. I lived in JAX for 36 years, right in the heart of Southern Rock.
    I'll also take "Ramblin' Man."

    I'll have to assume that The Eagles were still around in 1991, and, as for today, I like to listen to a good song from Pistol Packin Annie's.

    I think I became follower #1, and I look forward to reading your posts every day.

    Congratulations!

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    1. Much appreciated, John! I'll be sure to give you a bonus contest entry to being the first follower, but don't forget to post on the Intro post for the main entry.

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  2. I’m not a big Altman’s (Allmen?) guy—I tend to go for short songs, not long jams—but my favorite by them is “Revival (Love Is Everywhere)”.

    You mention Duane Altman’s death in a motorcycle accident, but another member of the group, Berry Oakley, died in a similar accident a year later. Tragic.

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    1. Yeah, fate can be cruel. Great talents cut down in their prime. Can't help but wonder what could have been.

      Checking out "Revival" now.. good song!

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  3. I respect the Allman Brothers quite a bit, even though they're not quite in my wheelhouse. Though, when you compared them to Nirvana, my biased showed because I instantly thought, "The Allman Brothers" are a waaaaaay bigger deal than Nirvana!" But that's just when I grew up.

    My favorite Allman Bros. song is probably "Melissa". I like their mellow stuff (Surely you've heard another of their "female name songs," Jessica. Play it and I think it'll be instantly recognizable).

    Never heard of Paw and in 1993 I knew like EVERY alternative rock group.

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    1. Listened to "Melissa".. pretty song. That name is a conflicting one for me. My first best friend as a lil tyke was named Melissa (Missy). Now today, I work closely with an.. um, "abrasive" woman with that name. LOL.. doesn't quite fit the song.

      Also just listened to "Jessica".. honestly, wasn't familiar to me other than being somewhat reminiscent to "Ramblin' Man".

      That's funny you hadn't heard Paw though were into that scene at the time. Guess they didn't get picked up by your local station.

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  4. I'm not that familiar with the Allman Brothers... although I do remember Ramblin' Man. I'll have to dig through the collection of albums my brother gave me to see if I own any.

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  5. I love classic rock, but southern rock was never a big pull for me. Still can't deny the Allman Brothers put out some great music. My favorite is probably "Whipping Post" - the soul-churning blues tune just hits you. Great first "official" post to kick this series off!

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  6. Not a huge fan, but I saw Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts both as solo acts and I thought they were outstanding. Gregg had a song called "I'm No Angel" that I liked. Baseball trivia -- in recent years, Derek Trucks was a member of the band. He is related to 1950's pitcher Virgil Trucks.

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  7. What a great post! (Found via the fb PAW page) Here's some ABB/Paw-related trivia for you: ABB alum, Warren Haynes (wrote a latter period Allman classic song, "Soulshine") started his own band, Gov't Mule in the mid or late 90s. Gov't Mule played at a Lawrence, KS, venue, The Bottleneck on that first tour. And guess who opened for them? Peter & Grant's band, Palomar. (Opened the Lawrence show only; they weren't touring with Gov't Mule.)

    So sorry you didn't get to see Paw live. What a treat!

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  8. Aside from Ramblin' Man, I'm mostly familiar with Jessica through my They Might Be Giants fandom as they did a cover of it for a b-side. Definitely a very technically proficient band.

    I somehow missed Paw even though they are right in my '90s indie wheelhouse. I just watched the Jessie video (I'm sure I've seen it multiple times before but for whatever reason it just didn't register) and I kind of love that they're some dudes singing about a dog instead of something gross that you'd probably find from a band later in that decade.

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    ReplyDelete