Posts Tagged ‘Berry Oakley’

As part of the ongoing celebration of their 50th anniversary, on September. 6th, the Allman Brothers Band Recording Company, caretakers of the original band’s unreleased catalog, in conjunction with distributor The Orchard will release a four-CD set titled Fillmore West ’71, culled from a weekend of live music recorded at the San Francisco venue. The band were the middle act playing between headliners Hot Tuna and the 24-piece opener Trinidad Tripoli Street Band.

This will be the debut release of these recordings. The packaging contains a front cover photo of Duane Allman from Jim Marshall Photography (taken at these shows) that has rarely been seen before.

From the press release announcing the collection: “Compiled from reel-to-reel soundboard masters, the January. 29th show that kicks off this collection reads like an Allman Brothers Band greatest hits, from opener ‘Statesboro Blues’ through the set-wrapping ‘Whipping Post.’ On the next night, the standard sequence of ‘Statesboro Blues,‘Trouble No More,’ ‘Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’’ and ‘Elizabeth Reed’ was typically riveting, and then the blues-soaked ‘Stormy Monday’ was worked in, replacing ‘Midnight Rider.’ Gregg’s vocals were visceral and honest, while Duane and Dickey added down and dirty licks. ‘You Don’t Love Me’ showcased some run-and-gun guitar work, and a frenzied ‘Whipping Post’ closed out another solid night. The band—Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Jaimoe, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks—were loose and talkative and you can hear them really dialing their sound in at what would be a final tune-up for the seminal At Fillmore East album, recorded less than two months later. At Fillmore East would cement the band’s place in rock history.”

The announcement continues: “Always acclaimed for their explosive live shows, the ABB really ratcheted up the intensity and focus on January 31st. After hammering tightly through the reliable first four, the ABB placed ‘Midnight Rider’ back into the rotation, and then Berry Oakley stepped up to the mic for a wicked and nasty take on ‘Hoochie Coochie Man,’ with Jaimoe and Butch churning full-bore behind him. After an extensive workout on “You Don’t Love Me,” the group worked a relatively new song into the set, ‘Hot ‘Lanta.’ Conceived out of a loose jam at the Big House in Macon, GA, the band’s home base currently an ABB museum, this group composition was cutting-edge fusion, displaying the delightful musical diversity of the Allman Brothers Band. A superior ‘Whipping Post’ concludes the Fillmore West material, but Disc Four goes on to include a wonderful bonus track: a March, 1970 version of ‘Mountain Jam’ from the Warehouse in New Orleans which—at 45 minutes long!—showcases a band that loved to improvise and let the music take on a life of its own.”

Kirk West, who served as the “Tour Mystic” and official archivist for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years, played a pivotal role in re-acquiring the original live performance two-track, reel-to-reel tapes used for this release from legendary band crew members Twiggs Lyndon, Joe Dan Petty and Mike Callahan, who were the original caretakers of these recordings. The tapes had been stored in closets and attics for many years, necessitating careful transfers and several successive attempts at restoration, as technology continued to improve. Interestingly in 1971, however, Kirk was a 20-year-old counterculture entrepreneur who found himself at the Fillmore West during the last four days of January. “I was living in Palo Alto with a bunch of hippie kids who, by and large, were Dead Heads. I had moved to California from Chicago, and I already was a big Allman Brothers fan,” recalls West. “I was insisting that everyone in the house go up to the Fillmore that weekend—‘Let’s go, let’s go—the Brothers are in town, playing with Hot effin’ Tuna.”

The concerts took place roughly six weeks before the band performed the March 1971 concerts which became their famed At Fillmore East, considered one of the all time great live rock albums.

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The Allman Brothers Band an American rock band formed in Macon, Georgia, in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman (founder, slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, keyboards, songwriting), as well as Dickey Betts (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting), Berry Oakley (bass guitar), Butch Trucks (drums), and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson (drums). The band incorporated elements of blues, jazz, and country music, and their live shows featured jam band-style improvisation and instrumentals.

The group’s first two studio releases, The Allman Brothers Band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970) (both released by Capricorn Records), stalled commercially, but their 1971 live release, At Fillmore East, represented an artistic and commercial breakthrough. The album features extended renderings of their songs “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, “You Don’t Love Me” and “Whipping Post”, and is considered among one of the best live albums ever made.

Group leader Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident later that year – on October 29th, 1971, and the band dedicated Eat a Peach (1972) to his memory, a dual studio/live album that cemented the band’s popularity and featured Gregg Allman’s “Melissa” and Dickey Betts’s “Blue Sky”. Following the motorcycling death of bassist Berry Oakley exactly one year and 13 days later on November 11th, 1972, the group recruited keyboardist Chuck Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams for 1973’s Brothers and Sisters.This album included Betts’s hit single “Ramblin’ Man”. These tunes went on to become classic rock radio staples, and placed the group at the forefront of 1970s rock music.

Their career began slowly, before At Fillmore East finally showed what the band could do. A wonder of power, precision and improvisational genius, the album changed the Allman Brothers Band’s profile forever.

In fact, the Allman Brothers Band scored their first and only ever No. 1 hit in the years following that tragedy. But 1973’s Brothers and Sisters was also their last platinum-selling project. The group broke up once, got back together and then began a lengthy hiatus in the early ’80s.

The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band (1969): 

This might be the best debut album ever delivered by an American blues band, a bold, powerful, hard-edged, soulful essay in electric blues with a native Southern ambience. Some lingering elements of the psychedelic era then drawing to a close can be found in “Dreams,” along with the template for the group’s on-stage workouts with “Whipping Post,” and a solid cover of Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More.” There isn’t a bad song here, and only the fact that the group did even better the next time out keeps this from getting the highest possible rating.

The group’s most overtly jazz-influenced song “Dreams” was part of a long string of early compositions Gregg Allman offered his fledgling bandmates . In fact, he was a dozen songs in before the Allman Brothers band decided “Dreams” would work. Unusually, Gregg Allman composed the song on the Hammond organ, instead of the preferred guitar or piano. Drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson’s library of old jazz records helped shape their approach, as they turned Allman’s blues haiku into a waltz-time meditation that traced the same musical lines as “All Blues” from Miles Davis’ groundbreaking Kind of Blue.

“When we were first putting a group together,” Duane Allman once said, “we were listening to Jefferson Airplane and the [Grateful] Dead’s records. We were all kicking around down South, buying records out of the Kmart and taking them home and digging them. And [Jaimoe] comes along and says, ‘Well that’s cool  good, but check out what I got over here, this collection.’ They just turned us all around. We heard with them cats were doing. Knocked us out.” “Dreams” is also the rare classic-era Allmans song featuring just one guitarist, as Duane offered a pair of brilliant solos over the band’s two-chord vamp.

The Allman Brothers Band - Idlewild South

Idlewild South (1970)

If you’re going to listen to the Allman Brothers, make sure you have the first four records. The band made The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, At Fillmore East, and three-fourths of Eat a Peach with its original lineup, before Duane Allman’s fatal motorcycle accident in 1971. The Tom Dowd-produced Idlewild South, their second album, comes off with a little less ferocity than their debut which is perhaps the result of reaching for new sounds the second time around. “Revival,” the album’s opener, introduces Dickey Betts as a composer. The countrified flavor of his songs gives an indication of where the band will head in the post-Duane era. Betts’ other contribution to Idlewild South is the instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” a centerpiece of the Fillmore East recordings. Gregg’s “Please Call Home” and “Midnight Rider” are built around piano and acoustic guitar, respectively, and have a different feel than the band’s usual twin Les Paul-and-Hammond sound. That sound is showcased in the balance of Gregg’s tunes, however: the funky blues of “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” (with Thom Doucette on harmonica) and “Leave My Blues at Home.” The album is also notable for the rollicking version of Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man,” with the only vocal bassist Berry Oakley (who died in a motorcycle accident one year after Duane) ever recorded with the group. Though overall it packs less punch than The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South is all the more impressive for its mixture of chunky grooves and sophisticated textures.

The first in a string of strikingly inventive instrumentals from Dickey Betts, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” quickly became one the group’s most recognizable songs. Betts was inspired by a doomed romance with a woman whom he was secretly meeting in a local graveyard. The guitarist liked to go there to compose, and that’s where he saw a headstone bearing the title of this moving, minor-key song. Betts had actually been playing in the same style for some time, working in a symbiotic fashion with the Allmans‘ late original bassist. “Berry Oakley and I inspired each other’s improvisational creativity while we were in Second Coming, the band that presaged the Allman Brothers,” Betts later told Guitar World. “One of our favorite things to do was to jam in minor keys, experimenting freely with the sounds of different minor modes. We allowed our ears to guide us, and this type of jamming served to inspire the writing of songs like ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.'” The track is driven by these brilliantly harmonized guitar lines, a sound that came to define the Allman Brothers Band. Betts’ interest in that approach didn’t come from listening to jazz, but instead to the Western swing of Bob Wills. By the way, he wrote “Blue Sky” in the same cemetery.

The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East

At Fillmore East (1971)

Whereas most great live rock albums are about energy, At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians’ interaction and playing. The great thing about that is, the original album that brought the Allmans so much acclaim is as notable for its clever studio editing as it is for its performances. Producer Tom Dowd skillfully trimmed some of the performances down to relatively concise running time (edits later restored on the double-disc set The Fillmore Concerts), at times condensing several performances into one track. Far from being a sacrilege, this tactic helps present the Allmans in their best light, since even if the music isn’t necessarily concise (three tracks run over ten minutes, with two in the 20-minute range), it does showcase the group’s terrific instrumental interplay, letting each member (but particularly guitarist Duane and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg) shine. Even after the release of the unedited concerts, this original double album remains the pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy.

“Whipping Post,” like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” had been earlier featured on Allman Brothers Band studio recordings but both found new meaning in this live setting. In fact, the 23-minute take from At Fillmore East is not only the definitive version, it’s the moment when Gregg Allman’s composing genius is confirmed. Still, this is truly a band triumph. Oakley completely rearranged the song which started out as another slow blues – into an unusual 11/8 meter that provides plenty of musical space for his bandmates to fill.

Dickey Betts and Duane then soar through another ribbon of harmonized, totally off-the-cuff guitar lines. (At one point late in the proceedings, Betts impishly quotes the children’s song “Frere Jacques.”) “We have rough arrangements, layouts of the songs, and then the solos are entirely up to each member of the band,” Duane once explained. “The naturalness of a spur-of-the-moment type of thing is what I consider the most valuable asset of our band.” And perhaps nowhere more so than on “Whipping Post,” which – quite fittingly – took up the entire closing side of the original Fillmore East vinyl release.

The Allman Brothers Band - Eat a Peach

‘Eat a Peach’ (1972): “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”

Inspired by the tragic death of his brother, Gregg Allman’s album-opening “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” offered a sturdy paean to perseverance. Betts – who Duane once praised by saying, “I’m the famous guitar player, but Dickey is the good one” seemed to be of a similar mindset as he stepped in on Allman’s preferred slide. The idea on Eat a Peach was to mix newly recorded songs like this one with some of Duane’s final recordings, making it both tribute and last testament to his genius. And for awhile, it sustained his heartbroken bandmates. “The music brought life back to us all,” Gregg said in his 2012 autobiography My Cross to Bear, “and it was simultaneously realized by every one of us. We found strength, vitality, newness, reason and belonging as we worked on finishing Eat a Peach.” Still, the prospect of touring nearly broke the band. Ultimately, they decided to go out as a five-piece. No one could replace Duane. Gregg and Oakley introduced the songs, which had also been his role. “We were playing for him,” drummer Butch Trucks said in One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, “and that was the way to be closest to him.” Oakley, who never got over the loss, died in a similar motorcycle crash a year later.

A tribute to the dearly departed Duane, Eat a Peach rambles through two albums, running through a side of new songs, recorded post-Duane, spending a full album on live cuts from the Fillmore East sessions, then offering a round of studio tracks Duane completed before his death. On the first side, they do suggest the mellowness of the Dickey Betts-led Brothers and Sisters, particularly on the lovely “Melissa,” and this stands in direct contrast with the monumental live cuts that dominate the album. They’re at the best on the punchier covers of “One Way Out” and “Trouble No More,” both proof of the group’s exceptional talents as a roadhouse blues-rock band, but Duane does get his needed showcase on “Mountain Jam,” a sprawling 33-minute jam that may feature a lot of great playing, but is certainly a little hard for anyone outside of diehards to sit through. Apart from that cut, the record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it’s hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of “Little Martha” conclude the record, since this tribute isn’t just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.

The Allman Brothers Band - Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and Sisters (1973)

Released a year after Eat a Peach, Brothers and Sisters shows off a leaner brand of musicianship, which, coupled with a pair of serious crowd-pleasers, “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica,” helped drive it to the top of the charts for a month and a half and to platinum record sales. This was the first album to feature the group’s new lineup, with Chuck Leavell on keyboards and Lamar Williams on bass, as well as Dickey Betts‘ emergence as a singer alongside Gregg Allman. The tracks appear on the album in the order in which they were recorded, and the first three, up through “Ramblin’ Man,” feature Berry Oakley their sound is rock-hard and crisp.

The subsequent songs with Williams have the bass buried in the mix, and an overall muddier sound. The interplay between Leavell and Betts is beautiful on some songs, and Betts‘ slide on “Pony Boy” is a dazzling showcase that surprised everybody. Despite its sales, Brothers and Sisters is not quite a classic album (although it was their best for the next 17 years), especially in the wake of the four that had appeared previously, but it served as a template for some killer stage performances, and it proved that the band could survive the deaths of two key members.

Dickey Betts had no intention of giving this country-rock gem to the Allman Brothers Band. But something about its searching narrative spoke to them in that moment. “I was going to send ‘Ramblin’ Man’ to Johnny Cash,” Betts told Guitar World. “I thought it was a great song for him. But everybody in our band liked that song.” Smart move: “Ramblin’ Man” became the only Allman Brothers Band single to reach the Billboard Top 10, streaking all the way to No. 2. The song also heralded a shift, both in leadership and musical style, toward Betts. The Allman Brothers Band somehow found a way to carry on, but not without help. Les Dudek guests on “Ramblin’ Man,” allowing the group to replicate their signature harmony leads. “We got into the studio and got into that big long jam at the end with all those guitar parts and everything, and we forgot about how country the song was,” Butch Trucks later said “then wouldn’t you know it — it becomes our only hit single.” That they would never be the same was reflected in the decision to expand their official lineup with pianist Chuck Leavell as a second soloist, rather than another guitarist. “Ramblin’ Man” was also the last song recorded with Berry Oakley.

  • The Allman Brothers Band (1969)
  • Idlewild South (1970)
  • At Fillmore East (1971)
  • Eat a Peach (1972)
  • Brothers and Sisters (1973)

On Valentine’s weekend 1970, the Allman Brother’s shared the stage with the Grateful Dead and Love at The Fillmore East along with Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac who’d showed up as they’d been sharing the bill with the Dead the previous week. Musicians from the other bands actually joined the stage for the late show on the 11th although none of that is used here. The Dead’s sets have been used to make up both History Of The Grateful Dead Volume 1 (Bear’s Choice) and Dick’s Picks Volume 4. Grateful Dead soundman Owsley “Bear” Stanley was running his Nagra reel to reel deck as he pretty much always did at the time. While preparing Dick’s Picks Volume 4 in late 1995 and very early 1996, Dick and Bear contacted the Allman Brothers and their archivist paving the way for this release not too long after.

This is a fantastic release and features thundering performances by the band from early in their career. These shows took place about six months after the band began recording their first album. This is also currently the earliest concert release by the Allman Brothers Band as the Ludlow Garage set was recorded about 7 weeks after these performances. I’m really surprised that this release has been allowed to go out of print as I was sure that it would’ve been grabbed up by Peach Records by now. There’s not too unusual as far as the songs go as it’s pretty much a standard list for the time but the performances are blistering. The disc itself runs over 72 minutes so it’s pretty full for a single disc release. It’s a shame that there wasn’t enough room for a version of Dreams as well but that would’ve put it over the maximum run time.

This concert was recorded by the Gratefull Dead staff in 1970, one year before the mythic “At Fillmore East” of march 1971. If you want to discover the band, buy first “At Fillmore East” of 1971, one of the best live albums ever recorded. If you want to go futher and hear the band before it became famous, this “Fillmore East Feb” 70″ is shorter but is their first professionnal live recording.

These live performances captured by Owsley “Bear” Stanley were recorded at the late, great New York City venue in February 1970 but remained unreleased for over 25 years until they were excavated by Grateful Dead Records.  Now, they’re available again in a newly remastered edition.  The 7 tracks (available on a single CD or digitally) include “Statesboro Blues,” and “Whipping Post.”

Drawn from Bear’s Sonic Journals titled Allman Brothers Band Fillmore East February 1970, the sonically restored and mastered recordings of the Allman Brothers Band’s performances at the Fillmore East on February 11th, 13th & 14th, 1970 were captured by Bear, who is known for the purity of his “Sonic Journal” recordings. The performances feature the earliest known live concert recording of Dickey Betts’ monstrous instrumental number “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” It will be released August 10th by Allman Brothers Band Recording Company (Orchard Distribution).

all new album art and liner notes, including a series of rare band photos from the Fillmore East in February 1970, original cover artwork (“Electric Mushroom”), and new notes from the Allman Brothers Band and the Owsley Stanley Foundation. Although the Allman Brothers Band in early 1970 had but one studio album under their belt, word of mouth about their incendiary and improvisational marathon live shows had begun to spread. In his new liner notes, ABB authority magazine editor John Lynskey aptly describes the Allman Brothers Band’s music as a “wicked blend of rock, jazz and R&B that created a dynamic, groundbreaking sound.”

Here’s the set list:

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” (Dickey Betts) – 9:19
“Hoochie Coochie Man” (Willie Dixon) – 6:01
“Statesboro Blues” (Blind Willie McTell) – 4:18
“Trouble No More” (McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters) – 4:12
“I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” (William Weldon) – 8:28
“Whipping Post” (Gregg Allman) – 8:12
“Mountain Jam” (Donovan Leitch, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, Jai Johnny Johnson) – 30:48

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.