Monday, August 11, 2014

CD Review: Universal Music Group Expands Upon The Allman Brothers Band "Live At The Fillmore East"

Back in 1971, during the month March, The Allman Brothers Band planned to record two days of shows to take place at the iconic New York venue, Fillmore East for their first official live album. Just two years and two albums earlier, the Allman Brothers Band were heralded as the next great blues band, but their studio sessions never captured the magic of them performing onstage. So, with the next logical step being a live album, they decided to record their first and second shows on each night of March 12th and 13th. The nights were so magical, that they were invited back by Bill Graham to headline the closing show of the Fillmore East in June of that year.

The original album "Live At The Fillmore East" was released in July 1971 and became an artistic and commercial breakthrough for the band. Only seven songs made the final cut, but it showcased what every fan who saw them live, known that this was a magical gathering of musicians. With the success of this album looming, The Allman Brothers Band rushed back into the studio to record their follow-up album ("Eat A Peach"), which would showcase the final recordings of guitar great Duane Allman who was killed in October of 1971 and bassist Barry Oakley who was also tragically killed the following year. With so many of the recordings from the Fillmore East leftover, they used a couple songs from their 1971 shows to round out the "Eat A Peach" album.

Now, for the first time, Universal Music Group released a six-disc "complete" box set of these recordings entitled "The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings." The box set features every note that the band performed on March 12th, 13th and June 27th. Fourteen songs in this set have never been previously released, including the entire first show from March 12th. As you notice listening to the first disc, that the band is a little nervous, knowing that these shows are being recorded for their next album, which could have been their last if it wasn't a success. But as you listen further and further into the set, the band relaxes and eases into their performance roles and just let loose. Extended jams of "Whipping Post" from the first show on March 13th and "Stormy Monday" from the second show are only a couple examples of Duane Allman's immense talent. While many of the songs are repeated during each performance, each version sounds like a different song with many turning into extended jams. The pinnacle of this release is disc 5 which includes the full, 35-minute "Mountain Jam" and the appearance of Elvin Bishop during "Drunk Hearted Boy."

Universal Music Group also released a Blu-ray version of this box set which contains three Blu-ray discs that contains the entire box set in 5.1 surround sound. So, if you own previous versions of these recordings, do yourself a favor and look into owning this piece of rock and blues history as no other band has brought together those musical genres in such an amazing way before. To find more about "The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings," please visit

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