THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND — An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band: First Set

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THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band: First Set cover
2.75 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews
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Live album · 1992

Tracklist

1. End of the Line (5:43)
2. Blue Sky (8:39)
3. Get on With Your Life (7:58)
4. Southbound (7:52)
5. Midnight Blues (5:14)
6. Melissa (5:28)
7. Nobody Knows (15:37)
8. Dreams (11:36)
9. Revival (5:56)

Total Time: 74:08

Line-up/Musicians

Gregg Allman / organ, piano, acoustic guitar, vocal
Dickey Betts / guitars, vocals
Jaimoe / drums, vocals
Butch Trucks / drums, tympani, vocals
Warren Haynes / guitars, vocals
Allen Woody / bass, vocals
Marc Quinones / congas, percusssion
Thom Doucette / harmonica

About this release

Epic – EK 48998 (US)

Live recording by Remote Recording Services, Inc.

Thanks to Chicapah, snobb for the updates

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THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND AN EVENING WITH THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: FIRST SET reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
I don’t harbor resentment against the 21st century edition of The Allman Brothers Band. In fact, I have a lot of respect for any musical entity that can still draw a crowd over four decades after their inception. Especially one that has endured the tragedies and upheavals they have. Due to the untimely deaths of two of their founding members occurring barely a year apart in the early 70s I was amazed that they were able to carry on at all. Being a realist, I knew they’d never again be the highly-influential group they were when Duane Allman and Barry Oakley were still with us and their 1973 album, “Brothers and Sisters,” confirmed my suspicions that those two gifted artists were the principal key-wielders who routinely unlocked the room where the group’s jazz/rock tendencies lived. That record sold like hotcakes so it wasn’t their popularity that suffered, it was the intrinsic uniqueness of their sound that fell to the wayside. That’s where I lost interest in them and the direction their more-commercial musical intentions were headed. They knew they’d carved out a lasting and profitable niche in rock & roll and they would’ve been fools not to take full advantage of the situation. They had a fiercely loyal fan base that would buy tickets to their concerts every time they came through town and, besides, with Duane and Barry gone what other options did they have? Not ones to look a horse in the mouth when he had a gift for them, they accepted their role as torch bearers with dignity and, despite the rocky internal relationships that tore them asunder more than twice, they managed to keep patching it up and made it into the new millennium with the surviving quartet still in the fold.

My darling wife is one of their legions of followers who don’t give a smelly poot as to how much of a jazz component they retained or lost over the years. She just likes their music and I’d be the last one to criticize that uncomplicated viewpoint. She and thousands of others continued to buy their albums whether they were studio creations or live recordings, helping to sustain an ongoing livelihood for The Allman Brothers Band and giving them validation for their artistic endeavors. I admire that fealty and recognize that there is, indeed, something special about the group else they would’ve faded into oblivion long, long ago. When I gave multiple listens to her copy of their “Shades of Two Worlds” album from ’92 recently and then reviewed it accordingly I gave it very low marks. Not because it’s terrible (it’s an above-average blues/rock record) but because there’s hardly a trace of jazz to be found. In approaching “An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band – First Set” I knew from a glance at the song lineup that this was taped while they were touring in support of that CD so I pretty much knew what I was in for. What I was objectively curious about was how they presented their aging catalogue tunes that hailed from their glory days.

“End of the Line” is the curtain-raiser for this show. No jazz on this sucker, just straight-ahead, bludgeon-your-brain-to-a-bloody-pulp, southern-styled heavy rock and, if that’s your meat and potatoes, you’ll love it. Next comes a faithful performance of their country/rock classic from the “Eat a Peach” LP, “Blue Sky.” In many ways the guitar work by both Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes is smoother than on the original studio track but they stretch it into an eight and a half minute exercise in axe-grinding that becomes tedious. “Get On with Your Life” follows and it’s a down and dirty, slow blues number that contains no variations on the basic theme except when they mimic their stellar version of “Stormy Monday” from 1971’s historic “…At the Fillmore East” album by briefly jumping into a jazzier swing feel for Gregg Allman’s Hammond B3 solo.

They take on a subtler approach for their bluesy rocker “Southbound” and it works well in the early going until they turn it into just another “boogie jam” wherein the two guitarists slug it out with each other ad nauseum. Being a six-stringer myself for most of my life, I enjoy a good head-cutting duel as much as the next guy but neither one of these boys is Duane Allman if you catch my drift and I got bored after a few minutes. Yawn. The all-acoustic “Midnight Blues” is okay for a change of pace moment but I have a low tolerance and appreciation for traditional blues and this simple ditty does little for me. An unplugged rendition of Gregg Allman’s beautiful song, “Melissa,” is next and they wisely don’t do anything to spoil its charming innocence. I personally prefer the studio version because of the band’s funky looseness on the track that sets it apart from most ballads but this ain’t too shabby.

“Nobody Knows” has the aura of old-school Allman Brothers that I continue to miss but the tune’s composition just isn’t up to par when all is said and done. The pseudo “Whipping Post” groove they settle into for the extended guitar-heavy instrumental segment is effective and very intense but there’s not enough imagination involved to hold my attention for its over a quarter of an hour run. I guess you had to have been there. Their resurrection of Gregg’s “Dreams” from their debut album is without a doubt the jazziest thing on the bill. What sticks out is the tightness of the double drum set onslaught from Jaimoe and Butch Trucks combined with the fiery percussion supplied by Mark Quinones. I’m happy to report that the overall presentation by the ensemble does the number a respectable amount of justice even though Haynes’ slide technique pales in comparison to that of the legend he replaced. They close with a nearly note-for-note reproduction of “Revival” from “Idlewild South” that only makes me nostalgic for their golden age when you never knew what these fellas might do next.

One positive aspect I found along the way is that both Gregg and Dickey have managed to keep their distinctive singing voices in fair shape and, at least in ’92, they sounded approximately the same as they did two fifths of a century back in time. On the stages they graced while assembling the cuts for this album they give their audience what they shelled out their hard-earned cash to hear and, therefore, there are no shocking or overly exciting moments to be had. They are seasoned professionals that know exactly what they’re about and how to deliver what’s expected of them and there’s no shame in doing either or both. But anyone with a leaning towards jazz who craves the inherent energy found in spontaneous improvisation even in a rock motif (the kind the Allmans used to excel at) will find this concert recording too patronizing and unremarkable to sit through more than once.

Members reviews

DocB
First Set was one of the first albums I got when I made the transition from vinyl to CD. The 1980s had not been good to the ABB, or jazz, blues and rock in general, so I did not expect much. Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts had produced some respectable albums in the 1980s, but they didn't get much notice. Also, I had just listened to The Fillmore Concerts, so First Set had a hard act to follow. But I was pleasantly surprised. No, Fillmore II it's not. But at the time Dickey had been quoted as saying 'this is the way the ABB is supposed to sound', the addition of Warren Haynes on guitar and Allen Woody on bass making the band sound more like ABB I. We even get Thom Doucette on harp. First Set includes some new songs, plus some old classics, with a good range of material. I saw the ABB at Red Rocks in 1998 after Warren and Allen had left the ABB for Gov't Mule, and Jack Pearson was on guitar, and Oteil Burbridge on bass. The opener was John Hammond, Jr., backed by Little Charlie and the Nightcats. So it was kind of like old home week. If you haven't been to Red Rocks, go!

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