Vinyl Score: All things to allmen
Tuesday, May 6, 2008 9:54:20 PM
At Fillmore East - The Allman Brothers Band
This is a live double album, and one of those which has sides one and four on one disc and sides two and three on the other.
Why was this done?
I have no frikkin' idea but I think Hendrix does it on Electric Ladyland as well.
I think the idea is to keep you in a permanent loop: side four finishes and "Hey, look man, side one is just on the other side. Might as well play it."
The album features the classic line-up which is to say the original line-up before members started sacrificing themselves to the motorcyle gods.
Over four sides you get just 8 tracks so we are back in the land of extended work-outs again, but although there is some extensive jamming on this album it is all done within the constraints of what we in the music business call a "song". Nevertheless, you really need to like guitar music to enjoy this album and if your idea of heaven is Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird then you'll be as happy as a dog with two tails, because there is a slight surfeit of diddley-diddley guitar solos on this album.
Still, it is mostly blues and a sort of bluesy jazz, so you don't have to put up with any country & western stylings of the sort that crept in to the band's later work.
Side one is my favourite. It features Statesboro Blues, Done Somebody Wrong and Stormy Monday and features the band at their urgent bluesy best. The blues is a type of music that lends itself well to live performance - not many fans are going to complain about the odd bum note or scratchy sound quality.
It's noticeable that the tracks penned by guitarist Dickey Betts tend towards a more fluid jazz based sound whereas Gregg Allman's stuff is more blues based. This is the sort of divergence of musical influences that often give a band a distinctive sound and identity in the early years but can lead to "musical differences" if the band stays together for any length of time.
So, in summary, some heavy duty bonecrushing blues playing, interspersed with some long winded but melodic and rhythmic work-outs.
Keep or dump? I am going to keep it. I suspect I will play sides one and four (side four features a 22 minute version of the blues original Whipping Post with its fantastic intro in 12/8 time) a lot more than sides two and three. Fans of long guitar solos or late sixties blues will enjoy it but otherwise this album is not what you'd call an essential purchase. 6/10
"I'm just trying to be a good person.
My name is Duane."