The Allman Brothers Band, led by lead/slide guitarist Duane Allman and keyboard player/vocalist Greg, were formed in the late 60s (after some session work, together and apart), in Jacksonville, Florida.
Along with guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Butch Truchs and Jai Johanson, the band soon became the leading light of what would be known as Southern Rock.
While many would say there were heavy influences of blues, country and jazz, those are all elements present (to a greater or lesser extent) in Southern Rock bands. But it was ABB's mix of hard rock with blues, boogie and a slab of slide guitar, that influenced the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot et al.
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While the first two albums, 'The Allman Brothers Band' (1969) and 'Idlewild South' (1970) are classics, and not just of the genre, it is their third set, 1971's 'At Fillmore East' that was the band's breakthrough. It showcased the band in their element – on stage. It is considered one of the all-time live rock albums, by anyone, ever.
The original set was compiled over four recordings on 12th and 13th March 1971, both early and late shows; this six disc album features all four shows in their entirety, plus the 27th March Fillmore East closing show. The complete works and the dogs bollocks in one deluxe set.
Disc one opens with: "I hope this turns out pretty good, we cutting our third album here tonight", before the band launch into the classic 'Statesboro Blues', an ABB staple with a groove and lot of slide guitar. This first show was relatively short with 'Trouble No More' standing out, and 'In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed' the only lengthy track, running to seventeen minutes.
Both the band and the style of music were suited to lengthy arrangements. The same day's evening show had the same set list, adding a further three songs. The aforementioned 'Elizabeth Reed', along with 'You Don't Love Me' and 'Whipping Post', all run to around the twenty minute mark.
The following day's early show followed a similar direction – with 'Done Somebody Wrong' and 'Whipping Post' previously unreleased. That evening's show, though, spans two discs and features a 33 minute 'Mountain Jam' (definitely a time to crack open a can and lay back).
Trading riffs and solos, the two guitars mix well with the keyboards, only occasionally drifting, you need time out of your schedule for this one alone. Closing number 'Drunken Hearted Boy' features Elvin Bishop and is well worth a listen.
The final show features a Bill Graham intro, and like the previous shows the punchy 'Statesboro Blues' opens (and shows why it's a firm personal and fan favourite). The different arrangements to a similar setlist proves that every show is different – whether a different track or a different workouts, you're in for a treat either way. For some of the lengthier tracks you do need to be in the right frame of mind.
Soon after the album's release Duanne was killed in a motorcycle accident and the band continued, finishing the sessions that would become 'Eat A Peach' (a studio and live set). While many tracks not on the original album have appeared on other retrospective releases (including on 'Eat A Peach'), there's a fair amount of previously unissued work here.
Wonderfully packaged, it is essential for Southern Rock fans, but probably too much of a hit for the more casual listener.