Labels were a lot more patient with their acts once upon a time. The first two Allman Brothers Band albums hadn’t exactly lit up the charts, but they were a hard-workin’ band, and having built a following at the Fillmore East in New York City, somebody had the bright idea to record their next album there. And they did, and everybody was happy—band, management, consumers, even the roadies on the back cover. At Fillmore East is designed to show the band at their intricate best, leaning on their trademark lengthy jams. That had already been established with the studio LPs, but double live albums threw any rules out the window.
Side one kicks in well with the ancient “Statesboro Blues” (a classic) and brings on their friend Thom Doucette to blow harp on the not-nearly-as-ancient “Done Somebody Wrong”. As they often prefaced their music with a little history, both Bobby “Blue” Bland and T-Bone Walker are acknowledged for giving them “Stormy Monday”, but from the guitar to that Hammond organ, it’s all theirs now. Side two is devoted to “You Don’t Love Me”, taken at such a steady gallop that you wonder how they’ll fill the side. The solution? Duane. He takes advantage of the space provided to go off on his own for a few minutes, and bring the band back behind him. He even throws in a few bars of “Joy To The World”, which is a little odd for March. The side fades just as “Whipping Post” rumbles up, but that will have to wait.
Side three showcases their jazz influences. One might expect something called “Hot ‘Lanta” to be a typical southern rock boogie, and one would be wrong. Rather, it’s a clever setup for the extended take on “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”; this one goes for over 12 minutes, and ends up as tight as ever. Finally, side four is all about “Whipping Post”, though apparently not the one started at the end of side two. Wikipedia features a lengthy description of the peaks and valleys here, so we’ll just leave it by saying that it’s fairly phenomenal. If you listen closely at the fade, you’ll hear another tune that will rear its head soon enough.
As live albums go, At Fillmore East is worthy of its heralded status; you just have to be really into guitars to get it. The band would revisit these shows soon enough, which will be explained in this space eventually. Needless to say, its compact disc history has become quite confusing. Its initial double-CD package was redundant once the industry made room for everything on one. In 1992, just in time for the band’s own renaissance as a recording, touring entity, The Fillmore Concerts brought together all of these and then some. The next century brought forth a Deluxe Edition of the original album, resequenced to approximate the actual setlist. Therefore, there’s plenty more to love if you love this.
The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East (1971)—4