Thursday, June 12, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "One Way Out" by Alan Paul (Guest Post)

The Inside History of the
Allman Brothers Band
- Alan Paul -
St. Martin's Press (2014)

I'm honored to introduce
and welcome Craig Ruskey, 
the latest "Guest Writer" on
The Show Biz Guru. Craig 
and I share a passion for
books and music, and I
hope that he will become
a frequent contributor. 

It's been long overdue; a once-and-for-all, no-holds-barred history of The Allman Brothers Band as told from the inside. While it's true that there's been no shortage of books dedicated to them over the years, including pictorials, a lengthy discography, an unauthorized band biography, one biography dedicated almost entirely to Brother Duane Allman, Gregg's autobiography, and a pair of readers from two longtime road warriors (one a roadie - the other from a former manager), all of them combined still didn't quite quench the thirst to hear the story as told by band members, both past and present.

Well, the wait is over and it's an overwhelming success. Author Alan Paul goes far beyond the reaches of his eBook of a few years ago and offers up a 400-plus page tome that finally reaches the very core of this incredible band and the unerring vision that founder Duane Allman had.

Breaking out of the Deep South (Macon, GA) in 1969, the Brothers delivered notice with their first album by blending a heady mix of hard-edged blues, touches of jazz and a bit of psychedelia that was quite unlike anything else of the time. The band's second and third albums went even further and brought the group some well-deserved acclaim before tragic accidents took the lives of guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley.

As much as previous books about the Allmans had landed on these still-exposed nerves in the past, it's safe to say that none of them quite reached the pit of devastation the outfit felt over two consecutive years. Alan Paul's One Way Out wonderfully turns countless hours over years of interviews into first-hand accounts from band members that finally tell what it truly was like to reach the peak of rock music's mountain, overcome gut-wrenching tragedies, land on top of the charts and later decline into years of drug and alcohol abuse, then hit the top again two decades later, winning over new fans and reclaiming those who were around at the beginning.

Craig Ruskey and Mama Louise Hudson, former co-owner 
of the H&H Restaurantin Macon, GA. "Mama L" fed the 
Allman Brothers Band members free of charge when
they were just starting out and couldn't afford to eat.
By transcribing a massive number of interviews, the author allows the story to be told by founding members Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson (Jaimoe), as well as those who joined in later years, Tom Doucette, Chuck Leavell, Warren Haynes, Allen Woody, Johnny Neel, and a cast of others. And it doesn't stop there, with additional and very enlightening quotes from many more who were there at the outset and beyond: Kirk West, Linda Oakley, Willie Perkins, Joseph "Red Dog" Campbell and Kim Payne, this effort is as close as we'll ever get to sitting on the porch listening to everyone reminisce about all that's transpired over the decades of music and history. The fallouts, the friendships, the downs and the ups, the low and high points are all here, but it's not a trash-talking tell-all of embarrassment. Instead, it's been thoughtfully woven together to give the reader the inside scoop. Trust and great interview skills obviously played a major role in the author getting to the heart of the stories, and those stories are many.

For many, The Allman Brothers Band is a group that not only transcends time, but transforms lives, and much like the band itself, Alan Paul's One Way Out will transcend time and become as timeless as the brilliant music created over the past 45 years. Beautifully done!

A full five thumbs up!

-Craig Ruskey
(June 2014)

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