Flashback Soul: Aretha Franklin & Duane Allman Know That “It Ain’t Fair”

You never know what may propel you happily on a frolic and detour into soul music history.

I recently had the good fortune to tour an exhibit at the New York Historical Society on the life of promoter and music impresario Bill Graham, renowned for his stewardship of the Fillmore West and East concert venues and for the many notable bands he shepherded through them, including the Allman Brothers. As I turned a corner at the exhibit, I unexpectedly came upon, encased in glass, the “holy grail” for guitarists: the 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar played by Duane Allman on Live at the Fillmore East, the sight of which sent me spiraling down into a rabbit hole of his music.

You never know what may propel you happily on a frolic and detour into soul music history.

I recently had the good fortune to tour an exhibit at the New York Historical Society on the life of promoter and music impresario Bill Graham, renowned for his stewardship of the Fillmore West and East concert venues and for the many notable bands he shepherded through them, including the Allman Brothers. As I turned a corner at the exhibit, I unexpectedly came upon, encased in glass, the “holy grail” for guitarists: the 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar played by Duane Allman on Live at the Fillmore East, the sight of which sent me spiraling down into a rabbit hole of his music.

While delighting in the hole, I discovered that prior to his legendary but all-too-brief stint in the Allmans, Duane was a session guitarist at Alabama’s iconic Muscle Shoals Studio and recorded there with a who’s who of soul greats, including Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and Aretha Franklin. Duane’s collaboration with Aretha was especially fruitful, yielding some wonderful recordings but perhaps none better than “It Ain’t Fair,” a bluesy soul crawl in which Duane delivers restrained, albeit tasteful guitar licks and fills that complement Aretha’s powerful vocals perfectly. Enjoy.

By Robb Patryk

Listen to this track and all others in this series on the Flashback Soul playlist on Spotify

 

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