Sea Level, “That’s Your Secret” (1977): One Track Mind

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A few days ago the American Dream died. I know, it’s widely thought to have died a tortuous death a generation or two ago, but I’m talking about a man who embodied it, rasslin’ great Dusty Rhodes. Since this is a music site and not a WWE site, you’re probably wondering why the news is getting discussed here. It’s because every time I see Rhodes mentioned, I think of a song that long ago also mentioned him…

In the middle part of the 70s, three members of the Allman Brothers Band formed a new band after the ABB had split up (for the first, but not last time). Keyboardist Chuck Leavell, bassist Lamar Williams, and drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson founded Sea Level along with guitarist Jimmy Nalls, a tight, funky unit that didn’t get perhaps the fame it deserved, likely because they came along a couple years too late. But listening to their records today, the music has stood the test of time much better than many of their more successful contemporaries.

Arriving at the nexus point where the Allmans, The Dixie Dregs and Little Feat meet, Sea Level distilled Southern Rock, funk, blues and jazz in a seamless way. The four quickly followed up on their self-titled 1977 debut with Cats On The Coast, where they really hit their stride. This one added another guitarist Davis Causey, vocalist/saxophonist/keyboardist Randall Bramblett and a full time drummer George Weaver to the mix. Causey and Bramblett also brought along some songwriting heft, and right away, too. The Causey/Bramblett tune “That’s Your Secret” kicks off the album with a song that’s both highly melodic and jam-ready, too.

Brmablett’s vocals aren’t going to put a scare into Gregg Allman, but it gets the job done. Somewhere in the middle of his somewhat obscure verses, he rattles off the line “‘And it’s an agonizing reappraisal,’ said Dusty Rhodes, and he’s the American Dream.” It was a reference almost certainly shoehorned into the song to give the sports legend a shout-out and if you grew up in the South in the 70s and 80s, it wouldn’t seem all that odd to give this man a shout-out. But regardless of that, it just sounds cool.

It still sounds cool today. Maybe even more so, since Dusty has now moved on to immortality.

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