The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – ” Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival “3rd & 5th July 1970

Posted: July 30, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The Allman Brothers Band hit the ground running on their self-titled 1969 debut, and never stopped. That album was a fine blend of southern rock, gritty blues with a little jazz thrown in for good measure. The following year’s Idlewild South was even better, including such immediate classics as “Midnight Rider,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Please Call Home.” The band’s third release, 1971’s Live At Fillmore East, is often regarded as a pinnacle representation of the group’s collective talents, particularly the distinctive guitar interplay between Dicky Betts and Duane Allman.

However, in the summer of 1970, when The Allman’s were still a relatively unknown act outside of Macon Georgia, the band were booked to perform at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, an event which boasted an impressive list of musical luminaries, including BB King, Procol Harum, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix.

Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival captures two blistering sets recorded 3rd and 5th July 1970 and, if not quite as enthralling as their shows at the Fillmore East, then are certainly almost as good.

For the first time anywhere officially or not two (mostly) complete performances by The Allman Brothers Band at the Atlanta International Pop Festival over the Fourth of July weekend (they were the bookends of the fest) in 1970 have been issued with stellar sound, complete annotation and cool liner notes. The festival took place while The Allmans were in the process of recording their second album, Idlewild South , when they appeared on July 3rd as the hometown openers of the entire festival and proceeded to blow the minds of over 100,000 people — for their last set on July 5th at 3:50 a.m. they performed in front of as many as 500,000. Musically, other than a somewhat stiff version of “Statesboro Blues” the July 3rd set is magical. There is a stunning version of “Dreams” lasting almost ten minutes with beautiful Hammond/guitar interplay between Gregg and Dickey Betts . Long and ferocious versions of “Whipping Post” and “Mountain Jam” are here, but the track on the July 3rd set is Berry Oakley’s feral vocal read of Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”  A short (5:49) version of this song, it has a rock & roll immediacy that is strained out of the longer versions to gain the improvisational edge. Disc one also restores Gregg Allman’s “Every Hungry Woman,” to its rightful place previously only having been available on an anthology. Harp player Thom Doucette, no stranger to Allman Brothers fans , is here aplenty, adding his righteous, stinging harp lines to many tracks on both nights. The way Gregg’s organ playing is recorded here offers a new view of just how integral an anchor he was for both guitarists to play off. He is a monster musician and, even at this early date, was showing off his improvisational and rhythmic skills.

Packaged in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, with detailed liner notes, Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival is essential listening for fans of the original classic line-up. Live At Fillmore might receive the majority of accolades, yet Atlanta shouldn’t be ignored. 150 minutes of pure, unadulterated blues-rock is never a bad thing.

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