CLASSIC ALBUM SERIES #16: The Allman Brothers Band – Peakin’ At The Beacon

3e3d6d31d6d1cbf0e4e0f950f6e850fdI’m a huge fan of The Allman Brothers Band with a few of their albums already having featured in my CLASSIC ALBUM SERIES. But for this installment I turn to their 2000 live album Peakin’ At The Beacon which was the last of their albums to feature Dickey Betts in any form, and the first to feature Derek Trucks. The songs captured on this album are taken from their March 2000 run at the Beacon Theatre in New York and even though those shows are seen favorably by fans of the band, it’s historic nonetheless.

The album opens with two songs straight from their self-titled debut album in 1969, Don’t Want You No More and It’s Not My Cross To Bear. These two songs sound fantastic and in my opinion are one of the best openings to an album of all time, and they sound as good right here. The first thing that springs to mind during these two numbers is how much like the Duane-era band this band sounds like. I’ve nothing against Warren Haynes whatsoever, but Dickey and Derek played great together, and their brotherhood shines bright on these two opening songs. On It’s Not My Cross To Bear the two of them each take a solo one after the other with the fluidness of Dickey’s playing coming across beautifully, something the band lacked after his departure in my opinion. Gregg sounds great on vocals here too and continues to do so on the next song, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More from their 1972 album Eat A Peach. It’s one of my favourite Gregg Allman songs and he sounds fantastic, with Derek Trucks supplying some tasteful slide playing. Dickey played the slide on the original studio version and Derek really replicates it perfectly here.

  1. Don’t Want You No More
  2. It’s Not My Cross To Bear
  3. Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
  4. Every Hungry Woman
  5. Please Call Home
  6. Stand Back
  7. Black Hearted Woman
  8. Leave My Blues At Home
  9. Seven Turns
  10. High Falls

Every Hungry Woman follows and memories of Duane’s playing really come through here magnificently. One of the finest things about The Allman Brothers Band was their ability to play lead work together creating a whole new feel to their already blossoming sound and Derek steps up big time here alongside Dickey. The fluidity of Dickey’s playing is something that is extremely underrated when you look back on the history of this band and since this run of shows, his last with them, it’s almost like he’s been forgotten. But listening to this album highlights how important his style of playing was to them and it’s something they missed massively after his departure. Gregg’s Please Call Home comes next, taken from their 1970 album Idlewild South. It’s a beautiful song and one of his all time best. Stand Back follows, a song co-written by Gregg and Berry Oakley. The vocals here are exceptional again but it’s the guitar work that continues to shine, a running theme. I can’t get enough of it.

This album is full of songs from their debut album with four of the seven songs featuring, Black Hearted Woman being the fourth. When I listen to this song it reminds me a lot of recordings and bootlegs from the Duane era. Yes, I’m repeating myself a lot here, but it’s true. It’s important to note at this point that the album is also the first by The Allman Brothers Band to feature new bassist Oteil Burbridge and his rock steady bass playing is one of the reasons this albums sound so good, and so much like the first incarnation of the band. Leave My Blues At Home features one of my favourite moments in an Allman Brothers song and this live version is very very good. The guitar work from Derek and Dickey is a lot more laid back compared to previous songs, allowing Gregg to take centre stage to do what he does best. The guitar work is quite funky as well compared to previous versions with Dickey and Derek certainly giving it a new lease of life. It’s beautiful, including the moment where Gregg comes in a little too early during one part of the song. But it adds to the magic.

The final two songs are the only non-Duane era songs to feature on the album, both of them written by Dickey Betts. The first is a cracking version of Seven Turns, the title track from their 1990 album of the same name. Over the years Dickey has written some fantastic songs while in The Allman Brothers Band, with Blue SkyRamblin’ Man and Jessica being three of his best. But Seven Turns is a modern Betts masterpiece and having it feature near the end of this album is a nod to his contribution to the band over the years. By the time this album was released of course, Dickey was no longer with them. The final song is taken from their 1975 album Win, Lose or Draw. At 27 and a half minutes long it’s the longest song on the album and as a Dickey number it captures the spirit of his song In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed perfectly. It could almost be the sister song in many ways. It’s gorgeous with the twin guitars leading the way. Classic Betts.

Overall it’s a very exciting live album to listen to and I stand by comments I’ve made throughout this article when I say this particular incarnation of the band was brilliant. When you look at the history of the band I’ll always believe the Dickey Betts and Derek Trucks together were a formidable unit. Warren Haynes certainly did his part for the band but his playing has always been more crunching and static than Dickey’s, and it’s Dickey’s fluid playing that the band have missed so badly over the years he wasn’t with them. I’m not condoning his behavior with the band or anything, I’m saying that his tone, his playing, his natural guitar playing ability was as crucial to The Allman Brothers Band as Duane’s was. I really do love this album and I implore anyone who is a fan of the band to listen to it with an open mind. Put any opinions you have of Dickey aside and LISTEN. All you’ll hear is brilliance, and paired with Derek, they were one hell of a unit.

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