Saturday, June 22, 2013

CD Review: The Allman Brothers Band Revisit "Brothers And Sisters" After 40 Years

The ever-enduring Allman Brothers Band are once again celebrating a milestone, the 40th anniversary of their commercial break-through album, "Brothers And Sisters." Following the death of band leader Duane Allman and founding member, bassist Barry Oakley, the band was lost and not sure what direction to take their music or even to continue as a band at all. Duane's younger brother Gregg and guitarist Dickey Betts arose as co-leaders of the band which would cause a riff that would last for the next 25 years, until Betts was forced out of the band in 2000. It was Betts who gave the band their biggest hit with the countrified song, "Ramblin' Man" which reached #2 on the U.S. singles chart and helped push the "Brothers And Sisters" album to #1 on the U.S. album chart for five straight weeks.
Now in honor of the album's 1973 release, we get the original album, remastered from the original recording tapes and released as a two-CD and four-CD deluxe editions. The original album has never sounded better as you can really hear all the instruments in their own place, without overcrowding the recording. Many of the songs from this album still show up regularly today when the Allman Brothers Band perform live, but the real treasure for fans is the second, third and fourth discs of this set.
Disc two gathers nine previously unreleased rehearsals, jams and outtakes, showing another side to the development of some of these classic songs. Highlights include an eleven-minute rehearsal of "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town," which shows some great interacting with Gregg Allman and Chuck Leavell and a 16-minute jam session that shows how well they fed off each other's input.
Disc three and four are from a previously unavailable live show recorded September 26, 1973 at the Winterland in San Francisco. The band is introduced by Bill Graham then go on to create a truly magical experience beginning with "Come And Go Blues." The band perform five of the seven songs from the "Brothers And Sisters" album mixed in with some classic blues numbers ("Stormy Monday") and ABB staples that have become highlights of their live shows. Songs like "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" (17 mins) and "Les Brers In A Minor (25 mins) show how this band can just take off at any moment and turn a song into an epic, unforgettable jam. The live show closes with the fifteen-minute impulsive version of "Whipping Post" that just brings the whole show to a roaring close.

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