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With Duane (1969-1971)

This might seem to a huge slight to the amazing talents of Forrest Richard “Dickey” Betts but is more of a defined change in the sounds and direction the band took.  “With Duane” saw the formation of the group and the had Duane “Sky Dog” Allman as the engine of the group.  He pushed and prodded everyone to be better than they thought themselves to be.  This brought to us the studio albums “The Allman Brothers Band” and”Idlewild South“, producing staples such as “Dreams“, “Whipping Post“, “Revival“, “Midnight Rider” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed“.  This was also the category that sees the release of the highly lauded “At the Fillmore East“.  The only live album that I have owned in more formats than I care to mention ( currently stuck on the 1992 Polydor release called “The Fillmore Concerts” which is a remix by Tom Dodd of both nights).  On October 15, 1971, “At the Fillmore East” goes gold; 14 days later “Sky Dog” was gone.

Bridging the gap between “With Duane” and “Without Duane” was “Eat A Peach” containing live tracks from Fillmore and more ABB staples, “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”, “One Way Out”, “Melissa”, “Blue Sky” and “Little Martha”. So, that’s what?  10 undeniably classic tunes captured on 3 albums in less than 3 years, oh and let’s throw in one of the best live albums ever recorded…ever?  And that’s just the first category!!!The Fillmore Concerts by The Allman Brothers Band
The album that started them down the road.

Idlewild South by the Allman Brothers Band
Smokin’ yet not receiving the kind
of sales they expected.

The Fillmore Concerts by The Allman Brothers Band
The first opportunity for
the world to hear ABB live

The Fillmore Concerts by The Allman Brothers Band
A great mix of the original
Fillmore East concerts editted
by Tom Dowd
Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band
Despite the tragedy of losing Duane,
the band played on.

Without Duane (1972-1981)

Without Duane” really had its peaks and valleys.  It started pretty strong despite the loss of original bassist, Berry Oakley with “Brothers and Sisters. Lamar Williams stepped in and the now Dickey Betts driven ABB became more laid back and easygoing and not as driving as the previous category.  “Wasted Words”, “Ramblin’ Man”, “Southbound” and “Jessica” are just classic.  But that’s pretty much where things slow to a crawl for 17 years.  What was to follow didn’t really create too much of a stir.  1975’s “Win, Lose or Draw” was just bad.  Other than a decent cover of a Muddy Waters tune, it just completely misses the mark.  According to Butch Trucks, this was the beginning of the “we’re rock stars” timeframe.  He stated in an interview in 2009 that the music at that time just became second fiddle to the partying and lifestyle.  1976’s “Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas” returned ABB back to what they did well still and that was perform live.  This album has a great representation of the cuts off of “Brothers and Sisters and “Win, Lose or Draw but it’s the 17+minute version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” that is the crux of the album.  No longer being able to do the fire and brimstone of the Fillmore days, this version is brooding and open making room for Greg Allman and Chuck Leavell to vamp.

Back together for their final album for Capricorn, 1979’s “Enlightened Rogues” wasn’t so much a bad album as it was an uneventful album.  “Crazy Love” was the hottest track on this on and it still holds up today.  Running a close second was “Just Ain’t Easy“.  Dan Toler brought some fire back to Betts playing and David Goldflies took over the bass duties from the recently departed Lamar Williams (he and Jaimoe went to form Sea Level in 1976).  The last two albums of this category “Reach for the Sky” and “Brothers of the Road” were for Razor & Tie records and were seeing the ABB come into the ’80s and that wasn’t good for any of us.

Brothers and Sisters by The Allman Brothers Band
An amazing tesatament to
the fortitude of ABB after the
loss of Duane and Berry Oakley
Win, Lose or Draw by The Allman Brothers BandA fairly uneventful release despite
a two year span since “Brothers and Sisters”
Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas by The Allman Brothers BandBack to a live album and still the best
way to experience ABB
Enlightened Rogues by The Allman Brothers BandBetter than most but not great,
“Crazy Love” is the best track by far.
Reach for the Sky by The Allman Brothers BandJust not very good,
very gospel but “Angeline” shines.
Brothers of the Road by The Allman Brothers BandJaimoe fired, pop-sheen,
does this make sense to anyone?