Outstanding archive release of vintage Allmans
The Allman Brothers Band hit the ground running on their self-titled 1969 debut, and never stopped. That album was a fine blend of southern rock, gritty blues with a little jazz thrown in for good measure. The following year’s Idlewild South was even better, including such immediate classics as “Midnight Rider,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Please Call Home.” The band’s third release, 1971’s Live At Fillmore East, is often regarded as a pinnacle representation of the group’s collective talents, particularly the distinctive guitar interplay between Dicky Betts and Duane Allman.
However, in the summer of 1970, when The Allman’s were still a relatively unknown act outside of Macon Georgia, the band were booked to perform at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, an event which boasted an impressive list of musical luminaries, including BB King, Procol Harum, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix.
Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival captures two blistering sets recorded 3rd and 5th July 1970 and, if not quite as enthralling as their shows at the Fillmore East, then are certainly almost as good.
Disc one gets off to a superb start with “Statesboro Blues,” “Trouble No More,” and Greg Allman’s soulful “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” before launching into a mesmerising “Dreams,” one of the trippiest songs The Allman’s ever recorded. Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” is given a vigorous workout, followed by an expansive performance of Bett’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” where Betts’ and Allman’s guitars are in perfect simpatico.
But that’s not all. On “Whipping Post” they raise the temperature by a few hundred Fahrenheit, before lowering it (slightly) on a memorable version of the all instrumental “Mountain Jam.”
The second disc captures the band’s closing gig on 5th July (or rather, the 6th), and while the set list differs slightly, The Allman’s still manage to put in an inspired performance. Highlights include an extended “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” a brooding “Stormy Monday,” and a near-cyclonic “Whipping Post.” They chose to close their set, appropriately, with a rousing 28 minute “Mountain Jam,” well and truly proving that they were one of the era’s pre-eminent jam-bands.
Packaged in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, with detailed liner notes, Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival is essential listening for fans of the original classic line-up. Live At Fillmore might receive the majority of accolades, yet Atlanta shouldn’t be ignored. 150 minutes of pure, unadulterated blues-rock is never a bad thing in this critic’s estimation.