From The Vault: The Allman Brothers Band – “At Fillmore East” (1971)
Aside for the music … this album holds profound memories for me. First I was at the Fillmore when these recordings were laid down, and what a super charged night that was … truly an event to be remembered and talked about for years.
Now listen … the Allman Brothers are really good, make no mistake about it, and they certainly put out an awful lot of quality material after this release … but Live At The Fillmore East was recorded during their height, when everything clicked night after night after night. The band had that ‘spark,’ that ‘something’ that people always refer to, there was a joy in their playing, there was a joy in their performing … and live was the way to hear this band first and foremost. They mixed and meshed Blues with Rock, flavoring it all with a nice southern funk. The extended jams are relentless, capturing a moment that still feels like it’s hanging in the air. This album was the ‘climax,’ the ‘peak,’ this was the best part of the trip.
The tough thing about this album is that during this era, every band felt that they had to have a double album, felt that they had to have a live album, and then felt that they had to have a double or triple live album … and believe me, there were so many bad shows captured live that people were very dubious about live material, and rightly so, because few of them stood up, or were able to capture the moment and hold it for all time. The reason for this is relatively easy to understand … most bands weren’t designed to play live. Bands did their studio thing, and then tried to take it to the road … while on the other hand, The Allman Brothers were a live band, a road band, playing live is what they did best, and if anything, it was their studio albums that lacked the spark and freedom of adventure that was afforded to them here on this release.
So there I sat in Vietnam during the fall of 1971, reading a rather beaten copy of Rolling Stone Magazine, and there on the third page, Rolling Stone was offering a free copy of The Allman Brothers At Fillmore East for free, with a years subscription, though in those days we liked to refer to it as a ‘years prescription,’ to the magazine. So there I was, sitting atop a rusty fifty gallon drum, Bic Pen in hand, filling out the subscription ticket, using my overseas address. Needless to say, the record never arrived, though a rather beaten up copy of Rolling Stone arrived a month or more late every month, right on time. But that was OK, because I had my memories of that night in New York City, and one of the best live shows I had ever witnessed.
This album was recorded with a great deal of care, and the remaster is even better, the digital clean up was not over done, and actually perks up the essence of the night. A fine release for your live collection, one that should not be missed … it will put a smile on your face, I know it brings back lots of memories for me.
*** The Fun Facts: The album cover features photographs of the band on the front and the band’s roadies on the back. They were taken by the celebrated rock photographer James Marshall in Macon, Georgia, the home of Capricorn records and home base of the Allmans, supposedly after photos taken at the Fillmore in New York weren’t deemed of high enough caliber for what was to turn out to be the Allman’s career breakout album.
– Jenell Kesler
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