Come and go blues was originally released on the album ‘Brothers and Sisters’, the bands first release after the death of co-founding member Duane Allman. It features a ‘Mark II’ lineup with a pianist replacing one guitarist. While this isn’t the traditional Allman Brothers lineup it is perhaps the most well known due to the commercial success of the album.
Although the sound is heavily based on blues, the band has become so progressive by this point that it structurally bears little resemblance to traditional blues. A strong element of funk is present in the large band, driven by the intricate rhythms of the two drummers; the beginnings of the fusion and prog-rock styles perhaps. However the vocal delivery and instrumental style ensure it stays tonally true to its blues/rock/country roots.
The piano is heavily featured in ‘Come and Go Blues’, providing the intro riff and an outstanding solo. Through the rest of the song the piano acts as a decorative instrument complimenting and setting off the song’s changes. The trademark whirring Hammond organ sits underneath the chord progressions filling up the mix and providing a thickness to the sound, only sometimes straying into a higher register giving screaming swells to reinforce the guitar riff and key change.
With the Hammond and the very active bass-line taking care of the low and mid register this leaves the guitar free to play funky, high rhythmical chops before hitting the volume switch to rise into wailing leads. Two drummers playing together in tandem are one of the features that give the Allman Brothers their unique sound and ‘Come and Go Blues’ utilizes this to the full. Trading drum chops gives a complex rhythmic blend, with ride cymbals and rims on one side and hi-hat and snare on the other. Alternating fills and accents present an overall driving percussive texture that sounds effortless but represents considerable skill.
The song takes a very un-traditional route as it winds its way through its riffs, verses, solos, choruses and key changes. A memorable piano run sets off guitar and drum swells to introduce the song before settling into the chunky rhythm of the verse. The chorus jumps out with powerful chord changes and wailing vocals separated by a guitar line which gives a preview taste of the solo. The virtuoso piano solo leads into the intro riff again then settles into the second extended verse leading into the key change.
This is time for the guitar to kick in, first establishing a base riff in the new key then expanding on that with subsequent key changes to arrive at the 5th chord for the chiming country-esque solo. Instrumental trade-offs and stabs bring us back to the original key for the last verse – a repeat of the first one but with raised intensity. A final chorus rounds the song off to its conclusion on the intro riff.
Why This is Such a Good Song
‘Come and Go Blues’ features all the elements of the Allman Brothers sound. Instrumental virtuosity and immaculate arrangement provide many layers of sound that give something new to discover on every listening. The anguished vocals singing about love and loss help insure the song takes its place amongst the great blues-rock songs of all time.