The Allman Brothers Band - The Final Note

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2020 release

By 1971, the Allman Brothers Band had released two acclaimed but modest-selling studio albums: their self-titled 1969 debut and 1970's Idlewild South. In July, the double, live At Fillmore East finally brought them the sales figures and critical recognition they deserved. They wrapped a coast-to-coast tour at Maryland's Painters Mill Music Fair in October. Just 12 days after this show, guitarist Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident; this is his final performance. The Final Note is a strange ABB curio. Its source is a single cassette tape recorded by 18-year-old aspiring radio journalist Sam Idas. He was there to interview Gregg Allman and decided to test his new machine by capturing the band's set from the audience on a 60-minute cassette. It sat until 2014, when a friend inquired about it. After locating it, a cousin made him aware of its historical significance. Idas turned it over to the ABB organization, who cleaned it up as much as possible for release.

The band's eight-song performance is deeply satisfying musically. From top to bottom, they leave everything on the stage, with no letup. Guitarists Duane and Dickey Betts had fully developed their seamless interplay, Gregg's singing and playing were expressive and inventive, and the rhythm section -- bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Jaimoe and Butch Trucks -- had created their trademark groove-centric approach. Sonically, this is only a fair bootleg audience recording. There are distortions -- especially in Oakley's bass levels -- and sometimes thin-sounding drums. No matter.

Among the highlights is a ferocious reading of "Statesboro Blues" with Gregg testifying as much as singing. The slide work by the guitarists is over the top and tight. "Trouble No More" is a wrangling Southern-fried boogie with killer crescendos. "One Way Out" may be the funkiest reading of the tune in existence. Performed in cut time, Gregg sings like a man possessed, while Dickey's blues fills rage between his lines. The relatively brief, six-minute version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" is a stunner as it moves through snaky blues, modal jazz, and improvisation with guest saxophonist Juicy Carter. Oakley's distorted bass run introduces a 13-minute closing version of "Whipping Post" that offers Gregg's best singing here. He sounds deeply wounded, bewildered, and aggrieved, digging deep for every ounce of emotion.

The band's jamming exchanges and tempo shifts are loose and confident, delivered in scorching overdrive. Gregg's power chords on the Hammond egg on both guitarists. They go after one another, then accent one another's lines, entwining until the end. The stage dialogue is funny and pertinent, as it laments the band's brief allotment of playing time and/or jestingly chides audience members for being on drugs. The booklet contains rare photographs and a historical liner essay from John P. Lynskey. If you can forgive the somewhat dodgy sound, The Final Note is an essential addition to ABB lore and captures the band at their kinetic best.

 AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

(821229000202)

SKU 821229000202
Barcode # 821229000202
Brand Allman Brothers Band

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