The second album from The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, has received a well deserved remaster in the form of this outstanding deluxe edition. Recorded between February and July 1970, Idlewild South contains a number of fantastic songs that became live staples over the lifetime of the band. These include the mesmerising In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, the scorching Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ and the legendary Midnight Rider.
The album opens with Revival which is the first song written by Dickey Betts to feature on an Allman Brothers album. It’s a fitting opener for the album which bridges the gap between Idlewild South and their debut, the self-titled The Allman Brothers Band released a year earlier in 1969. It’s an exciting song which builds throughout whilst giving you an early insight into the guitar harmonies from Duane Allman and Dickey Betts which would go onto feature more prominently from this moment on. Revival is followed by Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ which is personally one of my all-time favourite songs by the band. It’s true, the live version recorded at Fillmore East in March 1971 which ended up on the At Fillmore East live album is the definitive version in my eyes but the studio version still packs one hell of a wallop! Gregg’s vocals in particular sound excellent on this remastered masterpiece.
The guitars on Midnight Rider sound so fresh that they could have been recorded yesterday with Berry’s bass sounding excellent as well. So far so good for this remaster, but the most refreshing thing about Midnight Rider is how good the solo sounds. Just exquisite, wonderful, fabulous! In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed follows which is one of Dickey’s finest moments with the band. It really does sound excellent here and at a second short of 7 minutes long it’s the longest track on the album, although that’s relatively short compared to the monumental live versions the band played. Hoochie Coochie Man is sung by Berry and sounds fantastic remastered, as has every other song so far. But this one in my opinion is much clearer than the previous CD release that I have which was released quite a while ago, just so fresh. The final two tracks, Please Call Home and Leave My Blues At Home, see Gregg in fine form on vocals which really comes across here magnificently. The middle section of Leave My Blues At Home sounds particularly excellent and a huge step up over the previous CD edition.
- Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
- Midnight Rider
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
- Hoochie Coochie Man
- Please Call Home
- Leave My Blues At Home
- Statesboro Blues (Session Outtake)
- One More Ride (Session Outtake)
- Midnight Rider (Alternate Mix)
- Dreams (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Statesboro Blues (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Trouble No More (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Dimples (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Every Hungry Woman (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Hoochie Coochie Man (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
- Mountain Jam (Live at Ludlow Garage 1970)
The bonus tracks are outstanding as well, the first being a mind blowing version of Statesboro Blues which the band recorded with the intention of including it on the album itself. It’s mostly known as a live song today so hearing the studio version here is interesting although it did feature previously on the Dreams boxset released in 1988 so it isn’t entirely new. But that being said it’s really wonderful to hear and gives the song another dimension. It contains just as much energy as a live version, although Gregg’s vocals were recorded in the 80’s and not at the time it was originally recorded. One More Ride is the second (and sadly last) studio outtake on this deluxe edition, although there is an alternative mix of Midnight Rider which follows but you feel there could and should be more studio material here and not just three songs. The three songs are great, don’t get me wrong, but more is and will always be better. It’s a shame nothing else was included.
What you do get though is the full Ludlow Garage live recording for the first time ever, which was recorded on the 4th April at Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio. A live album of this show was previously released in 1990 but missed out In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed which finally features here. The Ludlow Garage show was and continues to be a fantastic live recording from 1970 and it’s great that the entire thing features here but something new would have been more fitting. This could just be me of course but it would have been better to include a show that hasn’t been officially released before. There are enough live recordings from 1970 that with a bit of remastering could be made to sound excellent. One that springs instantly to mind for me is the bootleg recorded at The Warehouse in New Orleans, LA, from the 31st December 1970. That one really is exceptional in quality and musical performance and wouldn’t take much to remaster into a new live album.
Overall it’s an enjoyable deluxe edition and the remastered original album sounds spectacular on every level. True, I wish more unreleased material had been included but on the whole it’s a very satisfying release and the minor points I brought up in this article are just that, minor.