Gregg Allman's "One More Try: An Anthology" is a most unusual retrospective, for the 34 songs on the two CDs include only eight performances that have ever been released. Perhaps this is an admission by Allman himself that his solo albums have been over-produced in a way that distracted from his primary asset, his blues-drenched baritone. That voice dominates the stripped-down demos, pre-orchestration alternate takes and live performances that make up the 26 previously unreleased tracks. Many of these rarities suffer from a lack of rhythmic push, but to hear Allman growling and purring his way through his favorite Muddy Waters, Jackson Browne and Bobby Bland tunes as well as his own originals is a genuine treat. Highlights include a jam with Johnny Winter, Buddy Miles and Berry Oakley on "Wasted Words," an acoustic-guitar-and-vocal version of "Come and Go Blues" and a soulful reading of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman."
A further admission of the excess that marred Allman's past efforts is the title of his first solo release in eight years, "Searching for Simplicity." More often than not he finds it. And with the clutter of strings, choirs and synths removed, Allman's soulful baritone shines. Except for one lapse into pop excess ("Silence Ain't Golden Anymore"), the album's tracks are straight-ahead blues and soul tunes recorded with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, longtime collaborator Johnny Sandlin and new Allman Brothers guitarist Jack Pearson. The album begins with an unplugged arrangement of "Whippin' Post," continues with several respectable originals and really catches fire on inspired remakes of songs associated with Ray Charles, James Carr, Jimmy Hughes and John Hiatt.
Derek Trucks is the nephew of Butch Trucks, the founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, and the younger man has been imitating Duane Allman's slide-guitar ever since he started gigging at age 11. Now at age 18, he leads his own jazz-rock quartet through its debut album, "The Derek Trucks Band." Jazz producer John Snyder convinced the teenage guitarist to include compositions by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter alongside the seven originals on this mostly instrumental project. Trucks's band is able to set its amplified instruments to a crisp swing, and the leader proves himself fast and agile on the guitar, but neither he nor keyboardist Bill McKay are able to come up with solos as melodically captivating as those of the Allman Brothers Band or as harmonically startling as those of the Coltrane and Davis groups. But, at 18, Trucks still has plenty of time to evolve. Both appearing Saturday at the Capitol Ballroom. To hear a free Sound Bite from "One More Try," call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8112. For a Sound Bite from "Searching for Simplicity," press 8113. g For a Sound Bite from Derek Trucks, press 8114. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)