Recorded in 1972 and released a year later in 1973, Brothers And Sisters saw The Allman Brothers Band forced to evolve again due to the tragic death of bassist Berry Oakley. Just like 1972’s Eat A Peach, the album was recorded before and after the death of a key member but the band decided to carry on and hire a new bassist in Lamar Williams. The result, Brothers And Sisters, is an incredible album which may well be their landmark studio recording.
1971 was a big year for the Allman Brothers in many ways. Not only did they finally achieve huge success after the release of their live album At Fillmore East which was released in July, but the year also saw the first chapter in their career come to a sudden and tragic halt. Founding member Duane Allman’s death on the 29th October 1971 would change the band forever, leaving behind (for the time being at least) the dual lead guitar format that had forged their musical sound from day one.
Coming four years after Clapton’s last studio output, 461 Ocean Boulevard was the album he needed to steady the ship going forward. Since the release of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs with Derek and the Dominos in 1970, Clapton had witnessed the disintegration of the Dominos, the death of Duane Allman and had remained holed up in his Surrey home, too paranoid to venture outdoors due to the cocktail of drugs he was on at the time.
In 2012 I had the great privilege of interviewing a hero of mine, Mr Bobby Whitlock. At the time I was doing my university dissertation and for a part of that I interviewed a number of blues musicians. The topic of conversation was the blues and it’s influence on Bobby as a person, writer and musician. I thank Bobby for taking the time to chat with me.
How influential has the blues been on your career?
Rhythm and blues is the category I am familiar with and what I grew up listening to and performing. Not just the blues. The blues on its own is the same old song sung by different voices. R&B is what STAX, Chess, Hi and Atlantic Records were all about. I was the first white artist to be signed to STAX’s HIP label. They wanted to get in on the British invasion and thought that I was their key to it. Of course they were wrong. I still draw on Sam & Dave and Otis Redding from time to time. As a matter of fact the way Eric and I sang together was a direct rip of the way Sam and Dave sang together. Eric and I sang our songs with the same call and response that Sam and Dave did. We were the white rock ‘n’ roll Sam and Dave.
What equipment do you use and was your decision to use it influenced by another artist or what you heard on a record?
I use a Hammond B3 organ and one Leslie cabinet. The organ that I learned to play on is sitting in my front room right now. My organ playing influences were Booker T Jones and the two Jimmys, Smith and McGriff.
Out of all the recordings that exist of Derek and the Dominos, this show is certainly the most unique. It featured a number of songs the band would only play once, or at least there is only one recording of these songs being played. It’s unsure as to whether certain songs were played at other shows but due to a lack of recordings for those other shows and without excessive research we will never know. But I sure am glad this one exists.
The band start with a great version of the Robert Johnson song Ramblin’ On My Mind, however they play it in more of an Elmore James style with the roaring slide guitar. A lot of people when hearing this may think that is Duane Allman on slide guitar but it is not, it is in fact Clapton as Duane wouldn’t join the band on stage for another month and a half. It’s interesting that the band would play this song so early in to their US tour (this was in fact their second US tour date after playing at Rider College in Trenton, New Jersey the night before) but this could have been for two reason. 1) The band only recently finished recording the Layla album a few weeks prior to this show where Clapton played a number of parts on slide with Duane and 2) the band were still no doubt putting together a setlist for their shows and altering the setlist from what they had been playing in the UK would have been natural due to the different audiences found in the US. But either way this is one hell of a song and I only wish they played it more during their tour dates.
One of only a few existing bootlegs from 1969, this show was the bands 4th live outing (according to official records on the bands website) after debuting as a band in Jacksonville, Florida two months earlier. The Jacksonville show will no doubt be a future BOOTLEG SERIES entry, but this set differs drastically from that show as far as the setlist is concerned.
The band open with a roaring rendition of Black Hearted Woman, a song from their self-titled debut album and a Gregg Allman original. It’s followed by one of the first known performances of I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town, a Casey Bill Weldon song made famous by Ray Charles in 1961. This version has the same kind of arrangement that Stormy Monday would go on to have later in the bands ‘Duane-era’ career. It’s a wonderful rendition in it’s own right though and probably the highlight of the show.