“Eat a Peach” by the Allman Brothers Band (1972)
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Duane Allman established himself as one of the most-sought session guitar players of the era, complementing everyone from Aretha Franklin to Eric Clapton. In his own group, he helped establish a sound and style that still stands at the forefront of Southern rock.
The Allman Brothers Band had broken through commercially and artistically with its third album, “At Fillmore East,” recorded at the famed New York City venue in March 1971 and released that July.
On Oct. 29, Duane was riding his Harley-Davidson in his hometown of Macon, Ga., when a flatbed truck stopped suddenly in front of him. He was thrown from the bike, which landed on top of him, and died shortly afterward.
He was 24 years old.
The Allmans had recorded a few studio tracks with Duane that hadn’t yet been released, and plenty still remained from the Fillmore recordings. The remaining members worked on some more tunes, and the first post-Duane album appeared little more than three months after his death.
“Eat a Peach” – its name was taken from a Duane quote about eating a peach for peace – may appear to be a patched-together project, but the result sounds like anything but. Most of the studio tracks and the shorter live numbers have found their way into Classic Rock radio rotation, and the longer tunes have remained part of the Allmans’ live repertoire to this day.
About those epic recordings, let’s start with the marathon: “Mountain Jam,” which took up two entire sides of the original vinyl. A group composition based on the riff of Donovan’s “First There Is a Mountain,” the Fillmore version clocks in at 33 1/2 minutes on the joined-together CD track.
The song actually segues out of a 22-minute performance of the band’s classic “Whipping Post,” with Duane and fellow guitarist Dickey Betts setting a breezy tone to open. After repeating the theme twice, Duane embarks on a solo about three minutes in, followed by brother Gregg’s turn on the Hammond organ, then Dickey’s fuzz-toned licks. Drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson team up for the spotlight, which wraps up Side Two of the LP.
On vinyl, Berry Oakley starts Side Four with one of the more memorable bass solos in rock history. Then comes a rousing guitar duet between Duane and Dickey before the song returns to its theme.
Also recorded at the Fillmore East – this time at the venue’s final show, on June 27, 1971 – is the definitive reading of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “One Way Out,” which has become a staple of FM radio over the past four decades. The other live track is Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” a version of which the band first did on its debut album in 1969.
In the studio, the three tracks recorded by the five-piece are “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” the lengthy instrumental “Les Brers in A Minor” and “Melissa.” The latter quickly became one of the most beloved pieces in the band’s catalog.
“Eat a Peach” fittingly wraps up with the three remaining studio songs featuring Duane: “Stand Back,” Betts’ classic “Blue Sky” and “Little Martha,” the Allmans’ only tune written solely by Duane. To this day, the song is played over the PA system after every Allman Brothers Band show as a tribute to one of rock’s true legends.