Battle of the Band: The Allman Brothers Band

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Two live recordings from the Allman Brothers Band battle it out, one of which features Duane Allman.

Allman Brothers Band - The Final Note
Recorded at the Painters Mill Music Fair in Owing Mills, Maryland on October 17, 1971, this is a bittersweet recording; nice that it exists but the album is called The Final Note because guitarist Duane Allman would die in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Georgia 12 days after this show. In consideration of the fact that this recording is of historical value, it can be excused that the recording quality is poor; the concert was recorded on a handheld cassette player. A quality playback system can alleviate some of the recording's infidelities, but it should be noted that this piece is geared to collectors and completists, not audiophiles. On the set list are "Statesboro Blues," "Trouble No More," "Don't Keep me Wondering" "One Way Out" and "Done Somebody Wrong" with great slide guitar from Duane. The further into the show the band gets, the longer the songs get, and the set includes an abbreviated "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed;" the famed Dickey Betts instrumental is apparently faded out at about the six-minute mark by the person doing the recording. "Hot Lanta" and a nearly 13-minute jam on "Whipping Post" round out the set. The band lineup for this show was Duane Allman on lead and slide guitars, Gregg Allman on vocals and organ, Dickey Betts on lead guitar, Berry Oakley on bass and Jaimoe and Butch Trucks on drums.

Allman Brothers Band - Warner Theatre, Erie, PA 7-19-05
Unlike The Final Note, this 19-song set (on 2 CDs) was professionally recorded. All of the band's hallmarks are on display throughout; soulful vocals and Hammond B3 work from Gregg Allman, inventive improvisations from the 4-man rhythm section (Jaimoe, Butch Trucks and Marc Quinones on percussion, Oteil Burbridge on bass) and of course plenty of the band's famed dueling lead guitars from Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes. Beginning with a 12-minute take on the instrumental "Mountain Jam" this stellar, previously-unreleased show contains all the biggies: "Midnight Rider," "Dreams," which Gregg reminds the audience is from 1969, "Trouble No More," "Jessica," "One Way Out," "Statesboro Blues" and yes, a reprise of "Mountain Jam" that runs another 9-minutes. Besides the smattering of blues covers that the band always plays there are a few chestnuts from the rock realm too; The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and a subline take on Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" where Susan Tedeschi plays guitar and handles lead vocals. There's also a long jam on "Jabuma," an instrumental fiesta featuring the three percussionists (and taking its title from the first two letters of each player's first name.) All in all a fine set that any ABB fan would be proud to own.

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