It’s not every day that a new recording is unearthed featuring The Allman Brothers Band with Duane Allman, but that’s exactly what we have here. Recorded on the 9th July 1970 at S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook in New York, it really is a remarkable sounding recording given how much time has passed since it was made. For the full history of the recording and how it was made and since released, head here. What follows below is my take and thoughts on the recording itself in the form of a BOOTLEG SERIES article.
The band open with Dreams, and this really is a magical version from the off. The first thing to immediately tickle the ear drums are how delicate and gorgeous sounding the drums are and this is somewhat fitting considering a lot of people have been reflecting on the life of Butch Trucks since his passing a few days ago. I’ve seen a number of people talk about his legacy, his input, his flavour within the band. Just listen to this one performance and if you don’t already know what Butch put into the Allman Brothers, you will afterwards. This song also gives a perfect example of WHO and WHAT The Allman Brothers Band were during this period of their career. They were at one with each other, an inseparable unit brimming with chemistry. Midnight Rider is the second song and Berry Oakley’s bass really comes across superbly here, as goes Gregg Allman’s singing. Off the top of my head it could also be one of the earliest known versions of the song with this performance being played over two months before the studio version would be released on their second album Idlewild South.
- Midnight Rider
- In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
- Whipping Post
- Mountain Jam
The magnificence is turned up a level with a breathtaking version of In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, a Dickey Betts original. This is a song the band played countless times while Duane Allman was still alive and each version was different in their own unique ways. Here is no exception and after a couple of listens you can tell the band were at the top of their game. Each member weaves effortlessly alongside the other, creating such a complex yet beautifully simple song that only this band could pull off so exquisitely.
The final two songs are Whipping Post and Mountain Jam, two songs which contain some of the most exciting playing in music history. And I’m not talking about just these two versions, I’m talking about every single time they played them live. These two songs saw the Allman Brothers go to places only a few bands had ever been to before, places which are beyond the boundaries of structured music. There is no structure, just pure improvisation, musical brilliance known only to a handful of bands in the history of rock music. PERIOD. These two songs showcase the best of music and these versions recorded on this day at S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook are superb on every single level. As I write this I’m listening to them through headphones and every single sound is being forever burnt into my mind. Every brush of the kit, every note from Duane and Dickey, everything sounds so clear as though I am in the venue itself witnessing the concert first hand. I close my eyes and I can see the band on stage, I can see Duane launching himself up the neck of his Gibson to hit a note that isn’t even over the fretboard. I can feel the crowd around me dumbstruck, eyes wide with amazement as Butch and Jaimoe begin a 30 minute version of Mountain Jam without so much as a second for a break in between the two songs. This is what music is and what a joy to be listening to these songs, songs which had only been heard by a handful of people just a few days ago not including those who attended the show in the first place. Now they are here to cherish forever more.
Overall it’s a very good quality recording overflowing with magical moments only the Duane Allman era of The Allman Brothers Band could provide. It’s also what a lot of Allman Brothers fans need right now a few days after the passing of founding member and drummer Butch Trucks. Being able to hear him do his thing so clearly on every track is a joy and the same can be said for the rest of the band. The Allman Brothers Band between 1969 and 1971 were an unstoppable force and one of the greatest live bands the world has ever seen. This recording captures some of their finest moments and, nearly 47 years after the show itself, we’re glad they eventually saw the light of day.