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CD REVIEW

The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East: The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings

by Larson Sutton on July 29, 2014

The Allman Brothers Band knew it was recording its third album.Duane Allman tells the audience of the Fillmore East several times throughout that the group is taping the two-night, four-show residency at the fabled New York City theatre- a weekend that would result in At Fillmore East, and perhaps the most-critically acclaimed live album in rock music history.The resulting seven songs chosen for that double-album set were revolutionary, incendiary, and the best possible introduction to the twin guitar excellence of Allman and Dickey Betts, brother Gregg’s voice already weary beyond his years, and elevating, telepathic improvisation powered by dual drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, as well the galloping bass of Berry Oakley.

The biggest task for the album’s producer, the late Tom Dowd, following those magical nights in March of 1971 was not what he could use, but what he had to leave out.Some of what didn’t make the cut would eventually surface, first on the follow-up Eat a Peach, bittersweet in that its inclusion of the half-hour-long “Mountain Jam,” “Trouble No More,” and a performance of “One Way Out” drawn from the venue’s final night in June of 1971 were in part to pay tribute on that double-album to Duane who had passed following a tragic motorcycle accident only months after At Fillmore East was released and had raised significantly the band’s national profile.Yet, what of the rest of that weekend captured on tape?

Finally, 43 years later, The Allman Brothers Band has released every note from that four-pack of shows plus the entire June 27th concert, previously available only as a bonus disc on the Eat a Peach deluxe edition, in a six-CD set The1971 Fillmore East Recordings.Beginning with the warm-up whine of Duane’s slide prior to “Statesboro Blues,” the first of five renderings in the collection, to the last bit of applause fading out after “You Don’t Love Me,” the historical weight and impact of what was played by these six young men from Macon, Georgia can be experienced, certifiable proof of performances at once groundbreaking and yet somehow almost second-nature for an ensemble that to date had performed hundreds of shows, rolling up thousands of miles on the road in just two years since forming in 1969.To listen to special guests like Rudolph ‘Juicy” Carter on saxophone and Bobby Caldwell on percussion stretch the boundaries of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” their appearances foreshadowing the modern-day band’s percussionist Marc Quinones and the annual sit-ins at the Beacon, to notice the subtle shifts from version to version of songs populating relatively the same five setlists, the confidence and spirit pouring out relentlessly, to hear the band take what felt right in an earlier rendition and expand on it just hours later, carrying it through to the next performance and then the next,without even the slightest hint of repetition, this is what is so extraordinary about this box set.This is why it is a must for every fan of music of any kind, from those that own the original album and every subsequent re-issue of it since to those that have never heard of The Allman Brothers Band.Everything that made this group important at the time and for over five decades since is right here.

Overseen by executive producer Bill Levenson, who helmed the Dreams box and several other reissues of Brothers works, the aesthetics of the package are appropriately complete and insightful, including an essay by band historian John Lynskey.Sonically, the mixes of the previously released At Fillmore East material have been revamped, and as well as the new, were done by Kevin Reeves and Levenson, and approach if not meet Dowd’s highest standard.In fact, presented in sequence, it would be hard to distinguish between the two, certainly there are not enough differences to detract.

Even after all six discs have been digested, it stills feels, however, like Dowd got it right.Those original seven classics and subsequent Peach cuts, imitated a million times over by every aspiring guitarist, the ones that wore out countless turntables and tape decks, continue to shine a little bit brighter than the others.Regardless, what a gift it is to be able to have it all, to agree or disagree with his choices, or to simply sit back, turn it up loud, and enjoy.

Authors: Larson Sutton
Artist: The Allman Brothers Band
Album: At Fillmore East: The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings
Label: Mercury/UMe

Comments

Thanks Larson for a great review of this important release of one of the best and greatest bands ever! Listen to all of this music is such a great joy. I’m in my second listening of all discs already! Specially the fantastic interplay between guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts is a treat to hear!

By Larzz (the Netherlands) - 07/29/14

The Holy Grail is coming in the mail! I can’t wait!!

By Tommy Williams, Nashville - 07/29/14

Where can I buy these ? I live in MA.

By Laurel S - 07/29/14

If you care about music and know what you are listening to, the Fillmore recordings must be the holy grail of live performances in the last 43 years.  Every note, riff and nuance played by the ABB justifies they were the tightest, most provocative and influential group in America at that time period. But, my feeling was, they were playing rock but their signature was not only rock, but a synthesis of rock, jazz and blues combined into one gorgeous groove. Credence was great, so was Chicago, but the ABB had something a little extra that went beyond the boundaries of the typical musical status quo…..Twin harmonies, harmonic phrasing and nuances that were created in the comparative light of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.  Imagine, a rock group that created rock in a jazz context and it was this context the ABB solidified their sound and place in music history.  The new 6 CD set should be our epiphany for a life time of listening and enjoyment.  God bless the ABB and my the road go on forever smile

By Electric Rick - 07/29/14

The information I have is that Disc 2 track 1, Statesboro Blues is previously unreleased, and is from the second show on March 13. But, “The Fillmore Concerts” double CD opens with a version of Statesboro Blues, listed as the second show from March 13. Surely they didn’t play it twice in one show.

Also, track 6 of Disc 1 of The Fillmore Concerts is “Done Somebody Wrong” from the March 13 second show. And yet this new set doesn’t list Done Somebody Wrong as part of the March 13 second show.

By JRussell - 07/29/14

I must have spaced out when ordering… 6 CD Set arriving today, but somehow missed the 3 Blu-Ray edition.  So, will return the CD’s and anxiously await the 5.1 Blu-Ray on Friday.  Sorry I won’t be able to “drop the needle” along with so many others.

By Doug - 07/30/14

Holy $h*t!  The “You Don’t LoveMe” from the 1st show on March 12 is a MONSTER!!  Can’t believe it took this long to get out… but I’m glad it did wink

By Steve LeFevre - 07/30/14

I LOVE the ABB and always have as I heard them from the beginning. I was so fortunate to have seen them live with Duane. I will treasure that night until I am with him!

By David - 07/31/14

@ JRUSSELL, the dates on “The Fillmore Concerts” aren’t 100% accurate. Just listen to the intros, you can tell right away that they misidentified the master take used for “The Fillmore Concerts” (which, just to be thorough, is also the same take used for the original “At Fillmore East”).

By MK - 07/31/14

“Everything that made this group important at the time and for over five decades since is right here.”

1971 + 50 = ???

Aside from that minor quibble, great review.

By Yeem - 08/04/14

god its awesome on vinyl!!! but am I gonna have to buy the discs to get em all…. crap, I think so!

By brian - 08/08/14

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