Artist: The Allman Brothers Band
Album: Live From A&R Studios, New York, August 26th, 1971
Label: Allman Brothers Band Recording Company
Release Date: 04/01/2016
When the Allman Brothers Band reconvened in 1989, they put out Dreams, a four CD chronicle that presented for the first time Willie Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me”—an ABB staple—married to King Curtis’ “Soul Serenade.” The incredible on-the-fly medley was 24 year-old guitarist Duane Allman’s knowing and soulful homage to the multifaceted sax king, murdered just 13 days prior. For those 20 minutes, anyone from neophyte to devotee gets the true gist of The Allman Brothers Band. Rock? Of course. Jam? Like nobody’s business. But what the extraordinarily talented sextet really did was rip open the possibilities within the blues by everything from a breeze to a brutal vortex, and always with the finesse of refined jazz players. The show that generated that particular improvisation was broadcast live from New York’s A&R Studios over WPLJ radio on August 26th, 1971. It’s a monumental hour and change in the band’s history, and all its dynamic glory has finally been remixed and produced crystal clearly for this release.
The Allmans were riding high on the success of their now-legendary album, recorded at the nearby Fillmore East five months earlier. They played the songs at this show—a very similar set—somewhat more urgently, adding much to their strength and charm. Between Gregg Allman’s loose-limbed, brown sugar and whiskey singing in Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” and the raw intensity in Duane Allman’s and Dickey Betts’ guitars in Betts’ jazz-inflected instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” there lies an ocean of brilliant anguish, and the joy in its presentation. A smoky roll through T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” displays a firm grasp of the true blues, while Gregg Allman’s own funky “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” offers a prime example of the way the ABB laid down an inimitable, irresistible groove. Tragically, Duane Allman himself died just two months after this. Although his enormous promise was never fulfilled, he’s a legend nevertheless for his singular slide guitar pyrotechnics.
– Tom Clarke