Posts Tagged ‘Jai Johanny Johanson’

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Today marks the anniversary of completing the recording of one of the most legendary live albums to ever grace this Earth. When thinking about The Allman Brothers, At Fillmore East is one of the main treasures that comes to mind. The double LP is most tangibly definitive of the band’s authentic sound, giving them both artistic and commercial breakthroughs, and is the kind of record you can spin on a daily basis and still find something to love about it. “At Fillmore East” was recorded over two nights — March 12th and 13th, 1971 — for which the band was paid $1,250 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 YorkJohnny Winter And, Elvin Bishop Group, Extra Added Attraction: Allman Brothers. The Allman Brothers Band started out as the opening band for Johnny Winter and Elvin Bishop for 3 nights, March, 11th, 12th & 13th, 1971 at the Fillmore East in New York City.
Although Winter was billed as the headliner, by the third night, the 13th, the ABB were closing the show. On the 12th and 13th, they recorded their shows. The recording would go on to be released as “At Fillmore East”.“The true brilliance of this live recording is in the shorter pieces. The longer pieces (“Whipping Post,” “You Don’t Love Me,” and “Mountain Jam”) have their moments, but those moments are diluted in the self indulgent noodling typical of many 1970’s live performances. If The Allman Brothers Band: The Fillmore Concerts contained only “Statesboro Blues,” “Stormy Monday” and “One Way Out,” it would still have a place as one of the finest live recordings ever released.

“Statesboro Blues” and “One Way Out” have Duane Allman’s dense and precise slide guitar pitted against Richard Betts’ round lead guitar, with “One Way Out” providing Betts with his finest recorded guitar solo. “Stormy Monday” juxtaposes Allman and Bett’s distinct lead styles in an orgy of perfect blues phrasing. Gregg Allman’s jazzy organ interlude is an added delight.”

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 the film 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 longstanding “unofficial” band member 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.

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