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Reach for the Sky

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Album Review

Water was being tread ever so slightly here, but there's still enough impressive musicianship and (to a lesser extent) interesting songwriting to qualify this as a solid artifact of the Allmans Mach 2 period (although the occasionally jarring use of synthesizers, rather than the band's usual organ/piano sound, has dated a bit). The standout track is clearly "From the Madness of the West," the sole song here where the twin guitars of Dickey Betts and Dan Toler recall earlier band classics like "Jessica." Also noteworthy is a stomping barrelhouse rocker, "I've Got a Right," sung by Gregg Allman with his usual gruff bluster, and the catchy mean-woman blues "Angeline," which became a minor radio hit.

Customer Reviews

"From The Madness Of The West" is worth having.

Although 1979's "Enlightened Rogues" did not set the world on fire, it was a solid album with several songs that were keepers, and could in no way prepared The ABB faithful for what would come next. That was this thing, 1980's Arista Records' "Reach For The Sky", that in all fairness should have been entitled, "Gonna Make You Cry". Largely lighter fare, with the guiding hand of the record company pushing the band in more of a pop music direction, that was suppose to make them more accessible to the masses, and get the 'Holy Grail' of record companies, radio airplay. Aside from "Angeline", the single from the album, it did not work out very well. If "Enlightened Rogues" and "Reach For The Sky" are played back to back, it is stunning what Arista Records was able to do to the band in short order. While it is true the band was floundering, they were still vital prior to this record. And that really is to say, vital in the studio, because on stage they have always had great players, put on excellent shows, and been a vital live act. Knowing that comparisons to the early 1970's line up, or even 1990's line up are inevitable, perfectly decent live recordings from the "Reach For The Sky"/Brothers Of The Road" era of the band exist, and are absolutely fine. Which just adds to the insult of the studio offerings made at the time. Certainly if just two things, the talent and the musicianship, are considered here, it is almost mind numbing what some heavy handed guidance by record company people can do to a legendary band. Off of this album, "Angeline" is not great, but is okay, as far as cute little singles go, but not really a song in The ABB style at all. "Keep On Keepin' On" is demonstrative of the modern and commercial direction of his record. Furthermore, the song it is downright awful, and an indictment of what was being attempted here. "From The Madness Of The West" is recognizable as being an ABB tune, and is indeed worth having. However, even the recording and arrangement of it is aimed more at the Jazz Fusion of the times, than say it being a 1980's 'Liz Reed' for ABB fans. Big mistake, for it is a decent ABB offering. It is an age old thing, record companies getting a band that turn their backs on their fan base, to reach for pop stardom and the big money. More often than not, this approach is a epic disaster, and is a surprising blueprint still used to this day by people who run record companies. Thankfully, after "Reach For The Sky", The ABB recorded "Brothers Of The Road" in 1981, and called it a day, as far as recordings, until they could get their heads back together. Which they did in the 1990's, very much so. Thank God.

Reach for the money is more like it

I can't imagine anything more than the record company thinking slicking over the bands sound would sell more records. I believe this has to be just trying to bank on the name and the fact that most people consider the group southern rock. At times they sound like they are going for a charlie daniels vibe others more of a slick pop sound. DO NOT DOWNLOAD UNLESS YOUR A COMPLETIST!

A Couple of Gems

"Angeline" & "From The Madness Of The West" are 4 star tunes. "So Long" is two stars. But the up tempo sections don't offset the slower parts like it works on one of their earlier arrangements, like "Stormy Monday."


Formed: 1969 in Macon, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The story of the Allman Brothers Band is one of triumph, tragedy, redemption, dissolution, and more redemption. Since their beginning in the late '60s, they went from being America's single most influential band to a shell of their former self trading on past glories, to reach the 21st century resurrected as one of the most respected rock acts of their era. For the first half of the '70s, the Allman Brothers Band was the most influential rock group in America, redefining rock music and its boundaries....
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