Picks and Pans Review: Seven Turns

updated 08/13/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/13/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Allman Brothers Band

With all these '70s rock bands regrouping, it gives new significance to the phrase "How can we miss you when you won't go away?"

But this, the first Allman Brothers Band studio album in nine years, is better than we had any reason to expect. It features original members Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts and the drumming tandem of Jai Jaimoe and Butch Trucks, plus new additions Warren Haynes, Johnny Neel and Woody Allen—oops, that's bass player Allen Woody. The recording is produced by Tom Dowd, who produced such classic Allman Bros. albums as Eat a Peach and Live at the Fillmore East and who has more recently worked with Rod Stewart and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Together they bring real sting to the boogie of "Good Clean Fun," with Haynes and Betts trading guitar solos and then twining them together in the Allman signature style of yore. Gregg still has that great, gruff, bluesy timbre to his voice. He sounds just like the title on "Low Down Dirty Mean," a blues number that makes sudden leaps back and forth from acoustic to electric.

Neel is a noteworthy find, livening things up with his barrelhouse piano and tart harp playing. The one big flaw here is uninspired material. Both the songs Betts sings, "Let Me Ride" and the title track, sound tired. Others are formulaic, such as "Loaded Dice" (Haynes's one vocal lead) and "Shine It On," which is further hampered by a tacked-on chorus that sounds like a homework assignment from Songwriting 101.

But for the most part, even the stalest songs are engagingly played and smartly arranged. Southern rock rears its hoary head again. (Epic)

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