Gregg Allman – Laid Back

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  • An astounding “Triple Triple” (A+++) copy that blew away every other pressing in our recent shootout
  • We were surprised at how well recorded the album is, dramatically better than the Allman Brothers album from the same year, Brothers and Sisters
  • Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is the sound we love at Better Records
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Recorded in the same year as the Brothers and Sisters album, this solo debut release is a beautiful amalgam of R&B, folk, and gospel sounds, with the best singing on any of Gregg Allman’s solo releases.”

This ’70s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 45 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Laid Back

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a ’70s Pop/Rock record.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than any of the other copies we played in our shootout.

  • Immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Midnight Rider
Queen Of Hearts
Please Call Home
Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing

Side Two

These Days
Multi-Colored Lady
All My Friends
Will The Circle Be Unbroken

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Recorded in the same year as the Brothers and Sisters album, this solo debut release is a beautiful amalgam of R&B, folk, and gospel sounds, with the best singing on any of Gregg Allman’s solo releases. He covers his own “Midnight Rider” in a more mournful, dirge-like manner, and Jackson Browne’s “These Days” gets its most touching and tragic-sounding rendition as well. Although Chuck Leavell and Jaimoe are here, there’s very little that sounds like the Allman Brothers Band — prominent guitars, apart from a few licks by Tommy Talton (Cowboy, ex-We the People), are overlooked in favor of gospel-tinged organ and choruses behind Allman’s soulful singing.

More Reviews

Laid Back received glowing reviews from music critics at the time of its release. Rolling Stone reviewer Tony Glover said “Laid Back isn’t quite what you’d expect from Gregg’s work with the Brothers Band. Instead, it’s a moody LP, often tinged with grandeur, and maybe just a little too rich and one-colored in spots. But on the whole, a moving look at another side of a finely charismatic singer/writer.”

Billboard named it a “Spotlight” pick among its Top Album Picks in November 1973, with the reviewer deeming it “a masterpiece of a set … featuring exceptional displays of vocal and instrumental talent in many musical areas.”

The album has continued to receive positive attention in the years since its release. In 2006, Tom Moon of NPR reviewed the album as a part of his “Shadow Classics” series, calling it “amazing stuff, deep and intense yet nowhere near the decibel levels of his work with the [Allman Brothers] band. … But he’s equally compelling — maybe even more so — in a quieter space, when he’s less fired up.”

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