Yesterday, guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks announced their departure from the Allman Brothers Band. Of course, they’ll remain in the line-up until the end of the year, celebrating the band’s 45th anniversary with their annual residency at New York City’s Beacon Theater. Regardless, the announcement is an unexpected and heartbreaking blow — and it’s tough to imagine the band carrying on after their exit.
In light of this news, I decided to round up six essential recordings (either official studio or live albums) that showcase the guitar prowess of this incredible duo. This list could have easily been tripled in size, but at least it’s something. Feel free to mourn (and sound off on your favorites) in the comments section.
6. “Desdemona” (Hittin’ the Note)
This big-hearted ballad, co-written by Gregg Allman and Haynes, is the simmering centerpiece of Hittin’ the Note, touching the same mystical-blues sweet spot as Led Zep’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” And that’s just the first part: Trucks’ shrieking solo might be his finest performance on an Allmans studio album, and ditto Haynes’ ultra-jazzy section.
5. “Rocking Horse” (Hittin’ the Note)
Guitar madness. Highlight: Haynes’ soulful bent-note spree and tremolo frenzy around the three-minute mark.
4. “Firing Line” (Hittin’ the Note)
The opening track from the Allmans’ outstanding comeback LP Hittin’ the Note, “Firing the Line” is a riff showcase of the highest order. The solos and fills are exceptional, of course, but the main riff is the true beauty: Those cascading notes during the “hellhound on your trail” section are…wow.
3. “Instrumental Illness” (No Way Out)
This Grammy-nominated instrumental showcases the two guitarists’ distinctive styles: Haynes’ notes are resonant and filled with Betts-ian grace; Trucks, meanwhile (and in particular during his early solo) sounds like a malfunctioning dial-up modem. Riveting, visceral, explosive rock and roll magic.
2. “Dreams” (No Way Out)
Haynes’ extended solo is jaw-dropping, touching on Indian and jazz scales. I could listen to that man play that solo over that two-chord groove all day long.
1. “Whippin’ Post” (No Way Out)
Haynes is literally speaking in six-string tongues on this one, and Trucks get ethereal in a full-body rush of slide noise around the four-minute mark. Breathtaking.