NEW ALBUMS: Gregg Allman, "Southern Blood;" Neil Young, "Hitchhiker"
Release date: Sept. 8
Review: In 1976, Neil Young walked into a Malibu recording studio, armed with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, and laid down a bunch of tracks in a single session.
They sat unreleased for more than 40 years until now.
Dubbed "Hitchhiker," the 10-track archival release is a treasure trove for Young fans with two previously unreleased songs and intimate renditions of some of his best loved tunes.
One of those, "Powderfinger," takes on a much more haunting tone than when it was officially released in 1979 with the full force and weight of Crazy Horse's electric mayhem behind it. Two other songs that also later showed up on 1979's "Rust Never Sleeps" get an early run-through here: "Ride My Llama" and "Pocahontas."
No studio versions of "Hawaii" or "Give Me Strength" — a standout on "Hitchhiker" that Young has occasionally performed live — have made it out of the vault before.
Young has written that he was "pretty stony" the night he recorded the "Hitchhiker" songs. Maybe that's why he was reluctant to put it out until now.
It was worth the wait.
Release date: Sept. 8
Genre: Southern rock
Review: Gregg Allman's farewell album veers deeply into parting sentiment, but it also reminds us of what a singular talent we just lost when he died in May.
With "Southern Blood," Allman serves notice one last time that he earned his place in the count-them-on-one hand set of white singers who could belt the blues from within.
Produced with tender care by Don Was, the album soars with arrangements built to spotlight Allman's singing. On the finale, Jackson Browne's "Song for Adam," Allman chokes up when he sings, "It still seems that he stopped singing in the middle of his song." Was said Allman thought then of his brother, Duane Allman, who died at 24 at the peak of his power.
Maybe so. But he could have been mulling his own fate, too — and the knowledge, proven with gusto on his last recording, that he still had plenty to give.
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