Friday, April 27, 2007

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - The Fillmore Concerts

Driving interstates through the Virginias spring 05, with this cd on top volume, it occurred to me that this is quite likely the most incredible American music of any kind for several decades. It transcends its own categories -- rock, jazz-influenced blues, Southern -- whatever. At the Fillmore East, the original Allman lineup in some uncanny way went beyond what even they probably dreamed possible. It became pure inspiration. The music is as darkly majestic and sophisticated, and carefully and perfectly executed as even the best classical music, yet also as rooted and rough, when necessary, as the sparest and spookiest black Delta blues on a scratchy old record. The end result is a sound that embodies the American musical soul in a whole new way, every bit as defining of its moment as Stephen Foster or George Gershwin defined theirs. The only category for this record is great music, in a world class sense.
Having heard the original vinyl when first released back in my college years, and then replayed it for decades and heard it over the airwaves from sea to shining sea, Tom Dowd's new mix was hard to get used to. But of course all recorded live concert sound is an artifact of a performance never fully recoverable in its dimensionality. Time has shown what this Fillmore product is and was, and I have to bow to what I believe is a greater authenticity achieved in the mix here, a much fuller and spread out sound where sooner or later each band member comes fully alive and center. At this point of time, such a result can be the only justification of a re-mix and an expansion. Nothing of Duane or Dicky's leads are lost, and indeed with replaying you realize they grow for the greater context revealed around them. Dowd has always been part of the Allman sound, sometimes more visibly, sometimes less. Here he is trying to create one perfect facsimile of the Fillmore concerts. I doubt however that this is the end of his efforts in this regard.
For those who are unfamiliar with the band or this concert, just get this version and listen to it again and again. It is powerful enough on first bite, but like all great world music only grows and deepens with each listening. It will teach you a lot about the country you were born in. The young Greg's unbelievably genuine blues voice is a marvel throughout. The fascinating 2 drummer/2 lead guitar player invention was at its peak here, and the show -- which is itself one great song -- builds to two climaxes like any major symphony: Elizabeth Reed and Whipping Post, the latter of which is unbelievably extended into Mountain Jam which seems like it indeed might go on inventing itself and turning into new shapes forever. Putting those cuts from Eat a Peach into proper context here, at last, was perhaps the most inspired choice of the new release. Also the added closer, of an extra dose of Elmore James, properly grounds the effort back in the band's roots, of which they have elsewhere sang, "Back Where it all Began." - Jack Wildenmut

Disc 1
1. Statesboro Blues
2. Trouble No More
3. Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
4. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
5. One Way Out
6. Done Somebody
7. Stormy Monday
8. You Don't Love Me
Disc 2
1. Hot 'Lanta
2. Whipping Post
3. Mountain Jam
4. Drunken Hearted Boy


Disc 1

Disc 2

Please leave a comment


DAVE said...

Best live album ever recorded!! Had this on vinyl and cassette tape-THANK YOU!!

zippy said...

Best live album ever made--had this on vinyl and on
cassette-THANK YOU!!

Marc said...

Probably one of the finest Blues/Rock album of all times and definitely my favorite which is on my turntable for more than 25 years..

The magic is still there, thanks for the gift!

Paige said...

My boyfriend will LOVE this, thank you so much!