The fourth instalment of my Bootleg Series is from one of my favourite bands, The Allman Brothers Band. And wow, what a performance! Broadcast on Wplj-Fm to promote the release of their At Fillmore East live album, the band were in top form during this performance. In fact when weren’t they in top form at this time of their career?
Recorded two weeks after the death of King Curtis, the band pay homage to him in a thrilling two song extended jam towards the end of the set. This is by far the highlight of the entire set and that’s saying something because every song is incredible. The band begin with a roaring rendition of Willie Cobb’s song You Don’t Love Me before Duane calls an end to it before beginning to play some beautiful slide licks by himself. You sense something big is coming next and the band do too. All of a sudden they roar into the most incredible version of Curtis’ song Soul Serenade. Never before has Duane ever sounded so good. What you hear is pure music and something (I doubt) the band planned on playing before starting the set. Just amazing. Not only is this the highlight of this one performance but it’s up there with the best Allman Brothers live performances ever.
Before this fantastic performance though came a number of songs the band pretty much lifted from the At Fillmore East track listing. But in no way do the songs sound the same as they did when performed at the Fillmore, every solo is different and each song lasts for a different amount of time. That’s one of the great things about bands like The Allman Brothers Band, no one performance of any song sounds the same. The band open with Statesboro Blues which is followed by the Trouble No More where Duane blows everyone away with his slide playing. Talk about opening with a bang! Next up is the first originals number of the set, Don’t Keep My Wonderin’ by Gregg Allman. You’d think the energy level in the band would drop slightly after the two opening numbers but you’d be wrong. In fact the energy level doesn’t drop off until after the fifth song where the band take a minutes break to re-tune their instruments, but this is only after they plough through the Elmore James song Done Somebody Wrong and One Way Out by Sonny Boy Williamson.
- Statesboro Blues
- Trouble No More
- Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
- Done Somebody Wrong
- One Way Out
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
- Stormy Monday
- You Don’t Love Me/Soul Serenade/You Don’t Love me
- Hot ‘Lanta
Even though the band have played a number of blues covers in this set, they make each and every one of them their own. After tuning their instruments, the band launch into In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed which is a more laid back number to everything else they’ve played so far. Not that they take it easy during this song as the performance clocks in at 11 minutes and 45 seconds and contains lengthy solo sections from each member (minus Oakley, Johanson and Trucks). Stormy Monday was one of the highlights from the Fillmore shows and the band reward the radio listeners with a fantastic rendition. Both Duane and Dickey Betts sound great on this track and it’s actually difficult to tell the pair apart in some places.
Up next is the You Don’t Love Me/Soul Serenade medley and oh boy is it good. I don’t think any words can actually describe how good it is, you just need to hear it! To end the broadcast the band play their instrumental original Hot ‘Lanta which is a song that only featured at live shows and never on a studio album.
What a performance from the band. Originally only available as a bootleg, this performance is actually now available to buy legitimately for the first time. However it is still a bootleg in my book and one of the best bootlegs I’ve ever heard. In terms of sound and quality, I don’t think they get any better than this. This is a performance from a band on top of their game however it’s sad to think that Duane Allman would be dead just over 2 months after this performance. He wouldn’t be the only ‘Brother’ to die with Berry Oakley himself being killed almost a year after Duane. These two deaths would change the fate of The Allman Brothers Band forever. They didn’t disband but sound wise they wouldn’t be the same again. This was their prime and they were fantastic.