Saturday, December 27, 2014

Liberty Records: Power of Love

Before the Allman brothers were the Allman Brothers, they first The Allman Joys and then later The Hour Glass. Based out of Los Angeles, Gregg and Duane Allman (from The Allman Joys) and Pete Carr, Johnny Sandlin, and Paul Hornsby (of the Men-its) formed this pop band with a slight edge.

Through connections with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who were under contract with one of Transamerica’s labels, United Artists, The Hour Glass were signed to another Transamerica subsidiary, Liberty Records. The band released two albums, “The Hour Glass” and “Power of Love,” and six singles – four of which were credited to Gregg Allman and Hour Glass.

In order to fulfill the band’s contract with Liberty, Gregg Allman recorded an album of material with session musicians that, outside the two single “A” sides, was shelved until some of the recordings were released the 1990s. Eventually all of this material, along with outtakes from the bands’ two official LPs, was released on CD by Acadia Records as “Southbound.”

While the originating two bands had both performed blues covers, Liberty attempted to mold The Hour Glass into a soul/pop band. Unfortunately, The Hour Glass never achieved the status they deserved and when they split in 1968, Duane and Gregg formed the Allman Brothers Band. The other three members headed back to Alabama where they became session musicians Fame Studios, one of the two prominent recording studios located in Muscle Shoals.

“Power of Love” was written by two Alabamans who also spent a great deal of session time at the studios in Muscle Shoals and later in Memphis: Dan Penn and Dewey “Spooner” Oldham. Penn and Oldham had coauthored a number of songs including “Cry Like a Baby” for The Box Tops and “I’m Your Puppet” for James and Bobby Purify. By the time “Power of Love” was written, Penn was already an established songwriter and producer.

Oldham had a plethora of hits under his belt having played organ on Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man,” and Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” He was a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section that was nicknamed The Swampers along with Hour Glass alumnus Pete Carr. Oldham has played with numerous artists and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a sideman in 2009.

“Power of Love” features Gregg Allman on organ and lead vocals and Duane Allman on lead guitar. While it doesn’t measure up to the brothers’ later material, it is a decent enough recording. Unfortunately, it never charted and hence is truly a bubbling (way) under selection.

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