Gregg Allman and Cher as Allman And Woman

By now, you have probably heard about the passing of Gregg Allman, who died on May 27th at the age of 69. During his lifetime, the legendary blues rocker -- who was a key figure in the creation of the Southern rock genre in the '70's -- was married seven times, the most famous of his ex-wives being none other than Cher (aka Cherilyn Sarkisian). Allman was married to the iconic pop singer/actress from 1975 until 1979, when the Allman Brothers Band became temporarily inactive, and at a point in time when the "Goddess Of Pop" was having more success as a TV variety show hostess than as a recording artist. Show business has always been known to make strange bedfellows, but the marital union between the Southern rock pioneer and the erstwhile Sonny & Cher entertainer made for an even odder coupling than most. Their stormy marriage inspired many tabloid headlines, showing its first public signs of trouble after only one week.

This unlikely pair seemed like the least likely pair of married musicians to record a duets album together -- but, lo and behold, they did. In 1977, Allman and Cher recorded an album billed under the ridiculous duo name of Allman And Woman, titled Two The Hard Way. The two performers truly were as musically mismatched as they seemed, as the album demonstrated a seemingly irreconcilable clash between Allman's whiskey-voiced Southern blues rock style and Cher's contralto-voiced pop proclivities. The album was a commercial and critical failure, and has long been out of print (although an unauthorized CD reissue popped up in Argentina in 2014).

Two The Hard Way is an ill-conceived duets album full of disco-era pop ballads, most of them either trite or cloying. Allman’s whiskey voice sounds way out of place on much of this record. Two of the songs (“We’re Gonna Make It”, “In For The Night”) sound as though they might have been intended for use by the Allman Brothers Band, but instead ended up as standard commercial r&b songs for this venture. Weak renditions of Elvis Presley's “Love Me” and Jackson Browne’s “Shadow Dream Song” also have hints of Allman’s trademark Southern blues rock, but that doesn’t help them much. The rest of the album is loaded with the type of blandness that suits a pop songstress who was also a prime-time TV personality. Two of the tracks work better than the rest: the opener “Move Me” is the one track where Allman’s Southern rock style and Cher’s pop inclinations manage to meet peacefully in the middle and find common ground, while Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” enables the duo to sound genuinely soulful together. Otherwise, Two The Hard Way is a fascinatingly bad mistake, a curio that could only have been created in the time, place, and situation in which it was made.

Allman and Woman - Two the Hard Way

Allman And Woman “Two The Hard Way” (Warner Bros. BSK 3120) 1977

Track Listing:

1. Move Me
2. I Found You, Love
3. Can You Fool
4. You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me
5. We’re Gonna Make It
6. Do What You Gotta Do
7. In For The Night
8. Shadow Dream Song
9. Island
10. I Love Makin’ Love To You
11. Love Me