Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Allman Brothers 4: Eat A Peach

Just like that, Duane Allman was dead, leaving behind his band and his brother. An album already started would end up as a tribute, and Eat A Peach neatly straddles what he started and where they’d go, for better or worse. Their albums to date were either brief or live, and here they provide a little bit of both.
Side one was recorded after the fact, and it presents the band keeping a brave face. “Ain’t Wasting Time No More” is an excellent statement of purpose, from the grand piano intro to Dickey’s impeccable slide playing—not his forte, but well done here. Dickey gets credit for “Les Brers In A Minor”, a nine-minute jam in the tradition of “Elizabeth Reed”. It’s a fascinating piece, developing from nothing into a tremendous sound. Then there’s “Melissa”, which Gregg says was his brother’s favorite song, gently played on acoustics, with Dickey again imagining what Duane would have played.
It’s back to the Fillmore East for side two, which presents the first half of “Mountain Jam”. From the first few rambling measures one might confuse this with a Grateful Dead recording, until the guitars let loose and the organ follows. It’s a totally live performance, with a few bum notes here and there to prove it, and it takes a while to get used to, especially if you’re not into drum solos. The side fades as Berry begins his bass solo, and that’s roughly where it fades back on side four. The band finds its way back in with a quote from “Third Stone From The Sun”, and the dynamics begin anew. Somehow they get to an arpeggiated ending— not bad for a jam built on a melody by Donovan, of all people. (Modern-day CDs present the whole 33 minutes uninterrupted in the middle of the program.)
Side three presents a mix of live and studio, all featuring Duane to some extent. First are a pair of blues standards recorded at the Fillmore; “One Way Out” sizzles, as does a decent reprise of “Trouble No More”—mixed very well to show off the band across the stereo picture. “Stand Back” is a funky shuffle driven by electric piano, not bad but not the high point. For some, that pinnacle would be “Blue Sky”, the Dickey tune that lays a blueprint for southern rock at its worst, and a redneck anthem today. The last word, not counting the continuation of “Mountain Jam”, comes from Duane, playing the pretty and fittingly brief instrumental “Little Martha”.
A cynic might say that a double album is excessive, especially when over half of the album appears to have been left over from the Fillmore set. However, Gregg Allman insists that Eat A Peach was supposed to have more of the live stuff anyway. For the most part, the “new” material is of their standard, and now that it can be had all on one shiny CD makes it economical.

The Allman Brothers Band Eat A Peach (1972)—

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