Out today (September 8) is Southern Blood, the anxiously awaited final album from the late Gregg Allman.
Recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the 10-track set features mostly covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Little Feat, Tim Buckley and more, including a rendition of Jackson Browne's "Song For Adam" with Browne himself guesting.
Allman died May 27 from liver cancer, and Southern Blood producer Don Was tells us that mortality was definitely a theme for the project:
"We traded songs for a long time. I'd overheard a conversation that I wasn't supposed to hear...where I knew he wasn’t gonna be around long. And he and I never once discussed it, but I knew that he knew and that the record was gonna reflect that somehow. So the way we discussed it was through the choice of material; You send a guy in that position (Dylan's) 'Going Going Gone,' you know what the point is, and I know why he liked it."
Was adds that despite the dire prognosis, Allman seemed adamant about soldiering on for as long as he could:
"I don't think he was talking about it, really, with anybody...I think he was in 100 percent denial right up until the end, or just a sense he knew he was sick, but I think he thought he was just gonna last, like it wasn't gonna stop him. But there was definitely a sense that this was his last record."
Allman co-wrote "My Only True Friend" with his longtime band guitarist Scott Sharrard, one of two originals on the album.
...Meanwhile, deluxe CD and vinyl editions of "Southern Blood" contain a special portrait of the late Rock and Roll Hall of Famer -- painted using Allman's own blood, as well as blood from his children.
The portrait was commissioned by Allman himself to surrealist artist Vincent Castiglia, who based it off a 70s photo by Neal Preston.
Allman gave Castiglia some vials of his blood to use, while the children donated theirs after. The painter calls it "the single most important work I've ever painted."
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.