Posts Tagged ‘Fillmore East’

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

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reDiscover: Eat A Peach

From the opening bars of ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’, which kicks off “Eat A Peach” the Allman Brothers set out their stall on this, their third studio album. But as fans of the band know “Eat A Peach” is an album wreathed in sadness, because it was recorded between September and December 1971, and it was on 29th October that 24 year old Duane Allman was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. The album’s opening track was written for his brother by Gregg Allman.

It was originally a double LP and was a record of three distinct elements. There’s the shorter tracks that filled side 1 of the first album while sides two of both records featured the half hour live ‘Mountain Jam’ that had to be cut in this way to accommodate its length, as well as two more tracks on side one of the second LP that had been recorded live. The CD version included ‘Mountain Jam’ as one complete track and later deluxe reissues featured additional songs from the 27 June 1971 Fillmore closing night concert.

In September 1971 the band went to Miami’s Criteria Studios with producer Tom Dowd and at these sessions they cut, Blue Sky’, an instrumental they called, ‘The Road to Calico; that developed into ‘Stand Back, with the addition of vocals and Duane’s gorgeous instrumental, ‘Little Martha’. The band then went back on the road, before four of the band went to rehab to deal with their addiction problems.

Following Duane Allman’s untimely accident the band agreed they must carry on. As drummer, Butch Trucks later said, “[Duane] was the teacher and he gave something to us—his disciples—that we had to play out.” The three tracks included on the album recorded at the December Miami sessions are ‘Melissa,’ ‘Les Brers in A Minor,’ and ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’. Les Brers, as Dickey Betts, the song’s writer later said, it was bad French for “the brothers. ‘Melissa’ was written by Gregg in 1967, one of the first he wrote that he deemed worthy of saving, and it was a song that Duane always loved. Gregg Allman had always felt it wasn’t edgy enough for the Allmans and thought he might record it as a solo record someday, but decided to include it as a tribute to Duane.

The live tracks, including the extended ‘Mountain Jam’ were recorded at the Fillmore East; ‘Mountain Jam and Muddy Waters’s ‘Trouble No More’ in March 1971, while their cover of Elmore James’s ‘One Way Out’ dates from 27 June 1971.

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At the time Duane Allman was killed, the band had no title for the album, and when it was finished Atlantic Records suggested it should be called, ‘The Kind We Grow in Dixie’, but this was rejected out of hand. It was Butch Trucks that came up with the title, suggesting they call it, “Eat a Peach for Peace”, a phrase that Duane had once said in response to a question during an interview. “I’m hitting a lick for peace — and every time I’m in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace. But you can’t help the revolution, because there’s just evolution. I understand the need for a lot of changes in the country, but I believe that as soon as everybody can just see a little bit better, and get a little hipper to what’s going on, they’re going to change it.” Georgia is known as “The Peach State.”

Trucks too took inspiration from the album’s artwork that was largely created while Duane was still alive. W. David Powell of Wonder Graphics had seen old postcards in an Athens, Georgia drugstore; one of which depicted a peach on a truck and the other a watermelon on a rail car. He bought them and worked up the album’s distinctive cover. Because the album had no name, it is the reason that the artwork was left title-less for its release.

Prior to the album’s release there was much speculation that without Duane the band would implode. To kick start the promotion of the record a live radio broadcast of the band’s New Year’s Eve performance at New Orleans’s Warehouse was arranged. It helped reinforce the idea that the Allman Brothers Band was still alive and well; when the record came out on 12th February 1972 it met with instant success and soon made No.4 on the American Billboard album chart.

In the words of Rolling Stones’s Tony Glover “the Allman Brothers are still the best goddamned band in the land … I hope the band keeps playing forever — how many groups can you think of who really make you believe they’re playing for the joy of it?”

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‘Melissa’ was the album’s most successful single, making #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. ‘Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More’ and ‘One Way Out’ were also released as singles, charting at numbers 77 and 86, respectively. In 1972 the Band played close to a hundred shows to support of the record, mostly as headliners, often with label mates’ Cowboy or Wet Willie as their opening act. As Trucks said, “We were playing for him and that was the way to be closest to him.

Quicksilver Messenger Service Follow The ‘Happy Trails’

This was the day 49 years ago that San Francisco rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service unveiled their finest hour, at least in commercial terms. March 17th, 1969 marked the release of ‘Happy Trails,’ their second album for Capitol Records and their one LP to win gold certification in America. When it comes to groups graced with two lead guitarists, one often earns more ardor than the other. Sometimes that’s understandable, like when one player takes more of the solos. But in a case like Quicksilver Messenger Service, it’s a mystery. In their heyday, John Cipollina tended to get more attention than Gary Duncan, though they both made dazzling contributions to their albums and concerts.

Cipollina’s distinctly ringing tremolo, a kind of sonic special effect that achieved a shivery resonance on the highest notes. In fact, Duncan has his own distinct tone and his overall work showed nearly as much invention and scope as his partner’s. You can hear their interplay best in the band’s oceanic jams,

Quite unusually for a sophomore record, ‘Happy Trails’ was a live album, taken from performances by the band at the famed Fillmore East and Fillmore West venues. Even more ambitiously, the first side of the disc was a suite of songs, running more than 25 minutes in total, based around the theme of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?’, in no fewer than six episodic interpretations. Quicksilver’s version divided into seven sections, with different sub-titles. One dubbed When You Love, featured a long, and highly creative, five-minute jaunt from Duncan that drew from jazz as well as psychedelia, underscored by a Latin-influenced bass line. It’s forceful and ruminative at once. Cipollina took the reins during the How You Love segment, letting his chilling tremolo spin through loop-de-loops, broken by distinct cries phased to shoot back and forth between the speakers.

The first and last of these were versions of the song itself, with notable roles for the band’s guitarists John Cipollina and Gary Duncan. The first even nudged into the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 91. But the middle passages were all written by the members of QMS themselves, titled (with a hint of humour) ‘When You Love, ‘Where You Love,’ ‘How You Love’ and ‘Which Do You Love.’

Quicksilver goes into it at full speed,” wrote Greil Marcus in his Rolling Stone review at the time, “John Cipollina’s guitar alternately harsh and sweet, clashing with Gary Duncan’s rhythm, Greg Elmore’s drumming simple and solid, never an iota of sloppiness, not a note missed.”

Who do you love and Mona are excellent examples of QMS live , the audience interaction is exciting and enervating, Cipollina’s guitar playing is ecstatic and moving. Calvary is like a psychedelic spaghetti western and is quite in place and a good ol’ boys yippee ay yay ending in Happy Trails means a great trip is guaranteed for all you heads out there

This is simply the San Francisco live,’acid rock’, sound at its best. Obviously comparisons with the Dead will be made but for reasons well expressed by the other reviewers here they are pretty meaningless. I can understand why opinions are divided over this album, It is one of the great, maybe the greatest, guitar album(s) flowing in a way that no other has ever equalled. Don’t look for structured songs here just, to quote the Airplane,”ride the music”. One of the two or three albums that would be in my top ten whenever you asked me.

The second side of ‘Happy Trails’ started with another gem from the Bo Diddley catalogue, ‘Mona,’ and three more band compositions including Duncan’s 13-minute instrumental ‘Calvary.’

The album artwork was designed by Globe Propaganda, described as “an advertising agency specializing in hip, progressive material.” Soon afterwards, Globe designed covers for the Charlatans and It’s A Beautiful Day. 23 years after its release, in 1992, ‘Happy Trails’ went gold, testament to the lasting contribution of Quicksilver Messenger Service as was the fact that it landed at No. 189 on Rolling Stone’s all-time top 500 albums.

Who at Fillmore East 10/20-25/69 by David Byrd

This recording captures much of the third night of a weeklong engagement The Who performing their rock opera Tommy at the Fillmore East, with Bay Area band AUM opening, followed by fellow Brits King Crimson.

Following the band intro, they kick the show off with John Entwistle’s “Heaven and Hell,” their standard opener at the time. “I Can’t Explain” and “Fortune Teller” hark back to older times, as does “Young Man Blues,” but all three are played with a renewed ferocity, not apparent on the studio recordings.

Thundering bass and drumming that’s on the verge of being out of control combine with Townshend’s power chords to create a sound that is unmistakably The Who. It’s remarkable that only three musicians can create such a powerful sound, particularly on the latter song. Following a monologue by Townshend, preparing the audience for the long haul of their new rock opera, Tommy, they launch into a condensed version of the “Overture.” Although shorter than usual, the anchoring musical themes of the piece are introduced before the storyline begins with “It’s A Boy.”

The highlight of what exists here from the opera is probably “Sparks,” where the band really cuts loose into a pulverizing jam. Townshend’s guitar howls through the unique powerhouse rhythms created by Entwistle and Moon. The opera continues with the bluesy “Eyesight To The Blind” which segues into “Christmas” as the first tape runs out. Unfortunately, the recording misses most of the rest of Tommy, resuming as they are reaching the end of “See Me Feel Me” coda’s finale sequence.

The band ends the show with the double whammy of “Summertime Blues” followed by an unusually slow-paced “Shakin’ All Over” that features themes from several other songs drifting in and out, including “Smokestack Lightning.”

Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals; John Entwistle – bass; Keith Moon – drums

Image result for leon russell live at the fillmore east 1970

This week will forever be considered one of the darkest and strangest in recent memory. The election of Donald Trump, Then we lost arguably the greatest songwriter in modern music with the passing of Leonard Cohen, and a certain troubadour who was a source of spiritual comfort for many entered the place where “there is no Space & Time.” Claude Russell Bridges, whom the world lovingly knew as Leon Russell, was a “Rainbow Minister & Ringleader” for the Hippie Generation, a “superstar” that shone very brightly.

This is a great live set,  Elton John opened for Leon Russell at these shows. This concert was recorded before the Elton John’s one at the Fillmore East. Elton John was a great fan of Leon Russell and logically invited him to open his shows.  At these Fillmore East concerts, Leon Russell headlined over an up and coming Elton John and the band McKendree Spring. This set finds him performing much of the material from his first solo album, but with a feel that would reflect where he was heading on his second album, Leon Russell And The Shelter People. It was a bigger, more adventurous sound, which would feature many of the same musicians that jelled so well on the Cocker tour. The material on this tour was equally diverse, featuring rock & roll, country, blues, soul and gospel, woven together by Russell’s distinctive Oklahoma twang and his creative arrangements.

The set begins rather starkly, with Russell performing solo at the piano, opening with Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country,” followed by his own “Song For You.” The set is paced in a way that is reminiscent of an old-fashioned revue, with additional musicians and chorus singers joining in as the set progresses. Anchored by David Hood and Roger Hawkins from the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, talented soloists, and two of the greatest female singers of the time (Lennear and McDonald), the set continually gains momentum with each song, establishing the feel of a rollicking road show.

As the set continues, Russell performs some of the true gems from his debut album, including “Hummingbird,” “Dixie Lullabye” and the high energy, “I Put A Spell On You.” The entourage also plays an outstanding version of “Shoot Out On The Plantation” that surfaces out of a short tease of “Blues Power,” the song Eric Clapton covered so well on his first solo album.

Russell also performs “Pisces Apple Lady” before bringing it all to a frenetic close with the double whammy of “Prince Of Peace” and “Give Peace A Chance” (a Russell original, not the John Lennon song). These last two numbers clearly display the incredible power of this talented group of musicians and singers, bringing the feel of an old time Southern gospel revue to the stage of the Fillmore East.

When comparing this concert to the one recorded, 3 years later, for Leon Live (One Of My Favourite Ever Live album set and a wonderful package). Similarities and differences are striking. Similiraties since it’s the gospel-that-rocks that all Leon’s admirers love to hear, but differences since the set was more sober and tighter that the quite indulgent later ones. I doubt any Dr John – Elton John or any-John-you-want won’t be enthusiasts in listening to such a great performance. Nothing better to listen to when you’re down and out. It makes you imagine life’s worth the living. Measure the miracle. Note that this set was never released officially but that the sound is very good probally taken from the soundboard..

LEON RUSSELL
Fillmore East, New York, NY; November 20-21st, 1970 [late show?] The Band for Leon was Roger Hawkins Drums, Dave Hood Bass Guitar. John Gallie Organ and ketboards Don Preston and Joey Cooper Guitars, Claudia Lennaer & Kathi McDonald on backing vocals

The second night of The Who’s first run ever playing at the Fillmore East is an unbelievably great document of the band in its early prime, still full of the punk attitude that they would initially define while beginning to venture off into more artistic and experimental territory. Every minute of this performance is fascinating and much of this material cannot be found, in better quality or at all, on any other Who recordings. This set captures the entire band fully engaged in their music. Although many songs were still short and concise during this stage of their career, the intensity level is undeniable. Opening the show with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” they immediately set a bar that most other bands could never even approach.

The previous year, two members of The Rolling Stones were arrested on drug charges under questionable circumstances, and were victimized by the U.K. courts. They were harshly sentenced in an attempt to make an example out of them, which immediately caused an uproar that shook London to the core. Following Jagger and Richards’ ridiculous sentencing, The Who quickly recorded two of their more popular songs in support and vowed to record nothing but Stones songs until the two were released. Their second song of this set is the Stones’ cover of the Allen Toussaint penned “Fortune Teller,” which they had just performed for the first time ever the previous night.

They continue with “I Can’t Explain,” one of the few songs American audiences were familiar with at the time, but with a new level of aggression that wasn’t apparent on that early single. Next up is their current single at the time, “Happy Jack,” a tune that found them exploring new directions and beginning to experiment with dynamic changes. Extremely rare live performances of “Relax” and “My Way” follow and continue to explore and expand on the boundaries within the band’s music. “Relax” surprisingly turns out to be one of the heavier numbers on this set and the band takes flight into some inspired jamming following the verses. Unfortunately, the jam fades out and is incomplete.

John Entwistle then steps up for his defining song, “Boris The Spider,” lending his dark sense of humor to the proceedings. At this point, the band launches into “My Generation” and this version is amazing. The improvisational section following the verses is a great early example of the band letting the music propel itself. Although at times it seems like they are on the verge of being out of control, they never are, and early signs of Townshend developing themes within a jam are also surfacing. The approach to their instruments and the sound they create as a unit is utterly unique and unlike any other band at that time. The reels were changed during this jam, so a small part of it is missing on this recording.

This surely must have left the audience breathless, so while they were recovering, the band embarks on their most experimental composition yet, “A Quick One While He’s Away,” which is incomplete and begins in the middle of the song. This adventurous suite of songs, loosely tied together, is a hint at Townshend’s future aspirations that would eventually be realized in his first full-blown rock opera, Tommy. This is a fascinating performance for its entire eight minutes.

Who at Fillmore East 4/5-6/68 by Helen Hersh

They close their set this night with another propulsive jam on “Shakin’ All Over,” again letting the music propel the band through several pulverizing jams, including spontaneous flailing of riffs familiar from other songs. Again, the raw energy is astounding. This and the previous night’s performance must have gone a long way towards cementing their reputation in New York City. This should be required listening for anyone interested in that era of rock music and especially for anyone interested in The Who

The lead guitar Pete Townshend plays on “Can’t Explain” is ridiculously on point. Phenomenal guitar playing

Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals; John Entwistle – bass; Keith Moon – drums

As the ’60s came to a close, Jimi Hendrix began to push the boundaries of funk, rock and R&B with a brand new group of musicians, Band of Gypsys. Together with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, Hendrix unveiled stunning, newly written material across four shows at the legendary Fillmore East in New York City. “Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 31/12/69” marks the first time Band of Gypsys‘ first show has ever been released in its entirety, newly mixed by Eddie Kramer from the original 1″ eight-track masters.

Well, this is something serious Hendrix collectors have been waiting for. Band of Gypsys famously played a total of four shows 12/31/69 and 1/1/70 at the Fillmore East (two shows each night). This is the complete first set from the first night; their debut live show. Although the original Band of Gypsy’s album was compiled from the second night, it wasn’t because there weren’t amazing performances to choose from on the first night. The first couple songs are a bit rough around the edges, but when Jimi goes deep blues with “Hear My Train a Comin’,” he really starts feeling it and turns in an absolutely amazing version (that’s why it was previously released on Band of Gypsys 2 and Live at the Fillmore East). “Machine Gun” is another stunner.

There are significant differences to the lyrics, and the structure of the song is different as well (Billy Cox says both Jimi and Buddy Miles were doing things that weren’t done in rehearsals). “Bleeding Heart” is another amazing blues performance leading into two songs that were almost never performed live: “Earth Blues” and “Burning Desire.” Throughout the set, the band is absolutely locked in. They aren’t just playing; they’re clearly listening to each other and Hendrix turns in some scorching guitar. The most interesting thing might be the realization of how much of these sets and songs was improvised by the band, as shown by the differences in “Machine Gun” from night to night. Eddie Kramer deserves credit for a truly excellent mix (and probably some judicious editing on “Changes”).

It’s not really fair to compare Machine Gun to Band of Gypsy’s since one is a largely unedited complete performance and the other is the best cuts selected from a couple shows. That said, there are performances here that rival those of the original Band of Gypsy’s album, and hearing Jimi on his game with great sound will always be welcomed.

Capricorn

On this day 12th March in 1971: The Allman Brothers Band played the first of two nights at the Fillmore East in New York, that were recorded & released as the group’s landmark, breakthrough, double live album, ‘At Fillmore East’ (Capricorn Records) – widely regarded as one of the best live recordings ever; Rolling Stone ranked it #49 on their list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’; the session was produced by Tom Dowd, who condensed the running time of various songs, occasionally even merging two performances into one track; it was one of 50 recordings chosen in 2004 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry…

At Fillmore East was the first live album by the American rock-blues band the Allman Brothers Band, and their third release overall. Produced by Tom Dowd, the album was released in July 1971 in the United States by Capricorn Records. As the title indicates, the recording took place at the New York City music venue Fillmore East, which was run by concert promoter Bill Graham. The release features the band performing extended jam versions of songs such as “Whipping Post” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” When first commercially released, it was issued as a double LP with just seven songs comprising four vinyl sides.

At Fillmore East was the band’s artistic and commercial breakthrough, and has been considered by some critics to be one of the greatest live albums in rock music.

At Fillmore East was recorded over two nights — March 12th and 13th, 1971 — for which the band was paid $1250 each show. The shows were typical performances for the band, and regarded as slightly above average by drummer Jai Johanny Johanson. Ads for the shows read: “Bill Graham Presents in New York  Johnny Winter And, Elvin Bishop Group, Extra Added Attraction: Allman Brothers. While Winter was billed as headliner, by the third night the Allman Brothers were closing the show.

Allman Brothers

Tom Dowd produced At Fillmore East; he had previously worked on their second studio album, Idlewild South. He had recently returned from Africa from working on Soul to Soul, and stayed in New York several days to oversee the live recording. “It was a good truck, with a 16-track machine and a great, tough-as-nails staff who took care of business,” recalled Dowd. He gave the staff suggestions and noted the band had two lead guitarists and two drummers, “which was unusual, and it took some foresight to properly capture the dynamics.” Things went smoothly until the band unexpectedly brought out saxophonist Rudolph “Juicy” Carter, an unknown horn player, and Thom Doucette on harmonica. “I was just hoping we could isolate them, so we could wipe them and use the songs, but they started playing and the horns were leaking all over everything, rendering the songs unusable,” said Dowd. He rushed to Duane during the break to tell him to cut the horn players; while Duane loved the players, he put up no fight with Dowd. The final show was delayed because of a bomb scare, and did not end until 6 am.

Each night following the shows, the musicians and Dowd would “grab some beers and sandwiches” and head to Manhattan‘s Atlantic Studios to go over the performances. Set lists for following shows were crafted by listening to the recordings and going over what they could keep and what they would need to capture once more. “We wanted to give ourselves plenty of times to do it because we didn’t want to go back and overdub anything, because then it wouldn’t have been a real live album,” said Gregg Allman, and in the end, the band only edited out Doucette’s harmonica when it didn’t fit. “That was our pinnacle,” said Dickey Betts later. “The Fillmore days are definitely the most cherished memories that I have. If you asked everybody in the band, they would probably say that.”

The Allman Brothers Band finished playing the two-night stand 45 years ago this month, March 12th-13th, that would become their classic album, Live at the Fillmore East. Produced by the great Tom Dowd, the double-LP set cemented the Duane Allman/Dickey Betts and Great Southern tag-team as one of the greatest guitar duos in rock history thanks to their daredevil performances on “Whipping Post,” “Statesboro Blues,” and “You Don’t Love Me”— all still part of the Southern jam/boogie repertoire.

Allman Brothers

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The four shows that Band Of Gypsys played at Fillmore East to bring in the New Year have rightly gone down as some of the best shows of all time, especially those on New Year’s Day itself. There were moments on New Year’s Eve where the band seemed to be lacking energy for whatever reason but on the whole every show was fantastic, as stated by the lucky devils I interviewed who were there to witness the shows for themselves. The music was funkier than that of the Hendrix Experience and while the drums may seem simple at times especially compared to Mitch Mitchell, the drums are a pivotal piece to the music that Hendrix was playing at this particular time. The Band Of Gypsys wouldn’t last for much longer with their final show coming less then a month later at Madison Square Garden in New York (Hendrix would leave the stage after just two songs and Miles would be fired backstage) but the music the band played at these four shows was and continues to be nothing short of exceptional.

There are certain artists who played certain shows with certain performances that will always be remembered, and that is certainly the case with the Band Of Gypsys at Fillmore East.

BAND OF GYPSYS AT FILLMORE EAST: NEW YEAR’S 1970
SECOND SHOW Setlist:

Auld Lang Syne
Who Knows
Stepping Stone
Burning Desire
Fire
Ezy Rider
Machine Gun
Power Of Soul
Stone Free/Sunshine Of Your Love
Them Changes
Message To Love
Stop
Foxy Lady
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Purple Haze


The second show was considerably longer in length than the first, as was standard at Fillmore East during this time. Before the band start playing, concert music is played through the speakers to bring in the New Year before the band run through Auld Lang Syne. The ending of this song is simply sublime as Hendrix creates a musical landscape consisting of nothing but feedback before launching into the next track, Who Knows. This is without a doubt one of the best performances from all four shows as the fuzz feedback from Auld Lang Syne goes straight into Who Knows. The riff from this song is exceptional. Funky, bluesy, perfect. Essentially a jam song based around the initial riff that opened the song, it’s one of the most enjoyable moments from the second set. Stepping Stone follows in what would be the first of only two live performances, the second being during the early show the following day. It’s a great song but after an electric performance of Who Knows it sounds a little sounded, almost as if the band members are holding back a little. This could have been because it hadn’t been played live before but Machine Gun hadn’t either until the previous show and that sounded fantastic. Buddy Miles on drums wears a little thin at times with the exact same beat with no changes going on for the entirety of the song. Mercifully, the Band Of Gypsys move on to Burning Desire. The opening jazz like rhythm hypnotises you a little before the main riff explodes in your face, however, at two and a half minutes long this version dwarfs in comparison to the near ten minute version which ended the previous set. “Ok, we’re going to play something else,” says Hendrix as the band bring the song to a halt.

Fire comes next and you can instantly hear how drastically different the energy level is on this song compared to the previous two, especially when Hendrix plays the famous Sunshine Of Your Love riff midway through the song. Even though Cream had broken up over a year earlier (26th November 1968), their influence on him remained. Ezy Rider follows before the band launch into Machine Gun once again which ignites the venue. The band play this for nearly fourteen minutes and you can only imagine what those seated right in front of the stage are going through in their paralysed states. It’s more of a laid back version compared to the early show but that doesn’t mean any of the explosiveness if taken away, it’s just being projected in a different way. Hendrix’s wah-wah blows the cobwebs away and before you know it, it’s all over. Power Of Soul opened the early show but finds itself deep in the mix here with that funky riff sounding oh so good. Out of all the songs the band played at Fillmore East during these two days, the funky songs definitely sounded the best due to Buddy Miles and his funk abilities.

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Stone Free is a classic example of Buddy Miles just not sounding as good as Mitch Mitchell. If you listen to any version of Stone Free with Mitch Mitchell on drums he sounds effortless, but Buddy Miles sounds too plodding here, too heavy footed. This is evident at the seven minute mark where Miles embarks on a drum solo you wish would end sooner rather than later but four minutes later it finally does with Hendrix and Cox returning for a full Sunshine Of Your Love segment which sounds fantastic. But one of the finest moments of the New Year residency is Them Changes, a Buddy Miles song which continues one of the funkiest riffs you’ll ever hear. Miles sounds great on lead vocals which lets Hendrix sit back and do his thing with the wah-wah which only adds to the funk magic being produced. Message To Love continues the funk theme with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox on backing vocals being a particularly enjoyable highlight. Stop follows

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Bob Feldman (Fillmore East Usher)

“I was working as an usher in the first balcony, a great vantage point for sight and sound. We had special t-shirts that said something like Happy Fillmore New Year. This was the first and only time I had heard Hendrix. I remember his version of “Auld Lang Syne” which was given the “Star Spangled Banner” treatment ala Woodstock. I also remember Buddy Miles bombastic (not in a good way) drumming which was very loud and busy. I remember the Cold Duck that was on the stage after the show. It was not for the ushers but we were able to score a few bottles. Most of what happened after the Cold Duck was a blur.”

Roy Forest (Audience Member)

“At that time I was 22. Jimi was a god and I had Row M center! I remember the six Marshall amps he played through and the unbelievable power they produced. He had me pinned against the back of my seat for the entire show. In regards to that show, Jimi was Jimi: a genius at work! I left in silence due to the raw power that that show produced and I didn’t want to speak.”

Jerry Wilder (Audience Member)

“The shows were all sold out. An artist relative of mine forged me a ticket to a nonexistent seat number, so I had no seat. I stayed in the balcony and managed to not get thrown out!”

One of Hendrix’s finest ever moment on guitar was when he played Foxy Lady at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and he dusts it off here for by far the best performance of the second set. The song is one of three classic Hendrix Experience songs that they would play to end the show and as soon as that riff takes off after the fretboard feedback Hendrix creates, mayhem ensues. It’s nothing but classic Hendrix without any restrictions and this one performances makes everything that came before it seem irrelevant in terms of any lack of energy the band may have been feeling. When the song ends the band leaves the stage before shouts of “more” can be heard from the extremely excited audience. When the Gypsys return, a second Hendrix Experience song awaits the eager crowd in the form of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). To my ear it sounds like Hendrix is using a lot more fuzz on the Hendrix Experience songs than he had been doing in every other song during this late show. It couldn’t be anyone else but Hendrix playing the guitar at this very moment. Even when you listen to a recording of this performance you can feel the power coming at you through the speakers. If that wasn’t enough, the band go straight into Purple Haze which is the final song of this set. None of the energy of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is lost and if anything they pick up more energy along the way. An exceptional end to the show.

Yes, there were moments during this show (from the recording at least) where the band seemed to be lacking in energy and the Buddy Miles solo during Stone Free wasn’t his finest moment, but the set ends with members of the crowd shouting “oh my God” and “he left us totally destroyed.

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The four shows that Band Of Gypsys played at Fillmore East to bring in the New Year have rightly gone down as some of the best shows of all time, especially those on New Year’s Day itself. There were moments on New Year’s Eve where the band seemed to be lacking energy for whatever reason but on the whole every show was fantastic, as stated by the lucky devils I interviewed who were there to witness the shows for themselves. The music was funkier than that of the Hendrix Experience and while the drums may seem simple at times especially compared to Mitch Mitchell, the drums are a pivotal piece to the music that Hendrix was playing at this particular time. The Band Of Gypsys wouldn’t last for much longer with their final show coming less then a month later at Madison Square Garden in New York (Hendrix would leave the stage after just two songs and Miles would be fired backstage) but the music the band played at these four shows was and continues to be nothing short of exceptional.

There are certain artists who played certain shows with certain performances that will always be remembered, and that is certainly the case with the Band Of Gypsys at Fillmore East.

JANUARY 1ST 1970: SECOND NIGHT (THURSDAY)

FIRST SHOW: Setlist:

Who Knows
Machine Gun
Them Changes
Power Of Soul
Stepping Stone
Foxy Lady
Stop
Earth Blues
Burning Desire
The two shows from New Year’s Day 1970 are considered to be the finest shows the Band Of Gypsys ever played together. The band open the early show with the funky Who Knows which was debuted the night before at the late show. This version would end up on the self titled live album released later in 1970 with a call and response from Hendrix and Miles. The riff from Who Knows is definitely one of the most infectious Hendrix riffs of all time and it’s one hell of a way to open a show. Not a bad introduction. Machine Gun follows and this exact performance is what people today consider one of the finest moments in rock history and you can’t help but share that view when you listen for yourself. What Hendrix managed to do with the guitar in his lifetime was exceptional and in a live setting he was even more on his game than he was in the studio, and that’s saying something. But this performance of Machine Gun is musical perfection in every sense of the term. You can only imagine how incredible it was to witness this performance in person and thankfully we have a recording to re-live it as best as we can over and over again. Buddy Miles returns on lead vocals for Them Changes with Hendrix playing that funky riff whilst being able to take a back seat and focus on his playing. The solo that he plays is gorgeous with splashes of wah-wah once again to create that Band Of Gypsys tone that so many guitarists long for even today. Halfway through the song things slow down as Miles takes over on lead vocals. Hendrix and Cox remain composed in the background waiting for the moment where the song will take off once again. Before that happens, Miles begins to quick things on drums before everyone else comes in on that funky riff once again.

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Power Of Soul makes it’s third appeared in three shows and any of the energy present the previous evening hasn’t diminished one bit. Hendrix is in fine form and brings in the wah-wah once again for a second solo near the end of the song, having playing a solo without it to begin with. It’s a great mixture of tone to say the least. Stepping Stone during this early show is the complete opposite to how it was played the day before where it appeared to lack energy, at least if the recording has anything to go by. But this performance is fantastic with Buddy Miles driving the song forward and coming across as far more laid back and relaxed than he had the previous night. Hendrix on vocals comes across as confident and in control and the guitar playing is as you’d expect it would be. Incredible. It’s followed by Foxy Lady which, once more, would prove to be one of the finest moments from not only this particular show but the entire Fillmore East run.

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Mark Waldrop (Fillmore East Usher – Present At All Four Shows)

“The thing I remember most was that he didn’t look stoned like he often did and he was clearly enjoying himself more than I’d ever seen. His hair was shorter and it seemed like a different Jimi in a good way. I do recall that the 1st show was unspectacular, but that’s well documented. The other three shows were outstanding.”

Tony Fradkin (Audience Member)

“I’m pretty sure I wasn’t there on the 31st. I do recall that we were really disappointed that he was just standing there and not moving much, but when the LP came out later, we realized that he was playing his ass off. I think he did do Foxy Lady and moved around a bit on that one. I’m always amazed at folks that remember all of these details, I certainly don’t!”

Stop is a song which, as you can hear from the New Year’s Day early show, sounded so much better than it did the previous night. The band appear to be on top of things and Miles really impresses on lead vocal duties with Hendrix supplying some tasteful backing vocals when needed. Hendrix goes on to take a short solo before Miles takes control of the song once more with another vocal verse. It’s quickly followed by Earth Blues although sadly the start of this song is cut from the recording, but what you’re able to hear is Hendrix (yet again) at the top of his game. Something he’s always been known and admired for was his ability to have the music flow from his fingertips and this performance is a really good example of that. Paired with the incredible tone he produces, you feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train once the song ends. Burning Desire then returns to close the set just like it did at the early show the previous evening.

When you listen to a recording of this show from start to finish you’ll realise at the end how fast it went by. There were only nine songs played but with the first two clocking in at twenty two minutes combined, it was anything but short. The fact that it goes by so fast is a testament to how great these three guys played, after all, time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.

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thanks to Tom Caswell for this article