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The Allman Brothers Band's new independent licensing agreement restores to the marketplace its most recent studio work including Hittin' the Note (Sanctuary, 2003) and the live One Way Out, Sanctuary (Sanctuary, 2004), as well as all previously released archival recordings.
Among the latter reissued titles is Macon City Auditorium, Macon GA 2/11/72, one of the very few appearances the group did as a five-piece unit following the death of founding member Duane Allman the previous autumn. Although not remastered or otherwise modified in its packaging, the two-CD set deserves more than a little fanfare: it is an indispensable entry into the ABB discography.
The only other recorded evidence available of the quintet lineup are the three opening cuts of Eat A Peach (Capricorn, 1972). Set for release the week after this show, material from this album appears here in the form of "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" and "Les Brers in A Minor," but the raw, streamlined sound of this unit isn't all that different from the original Allman sextet: guitarist/vocalist Dickey Betts leads his four brothers in conjuring up an intensity arguably equal to sets played with their departed founder, perhaps not surprisingly since the bulk of the set list is the repertoire already famous from At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971).
The slashing, succinct leads Betts plays at various points during an extended "You Don't Love Me," is blistering stuff and, in tandem with bassist Berry Oakley, Betts creates a majestic homage to pure blues which ends this nineteen minute-plus track. There are other dramatic intervals too, such as "Hot 'Lanta," where the group pivots on Oakley's far-reaching playing, the bassist expanding his role instrumentally to fill the void of his departed comrade. Oakley, who would die later in 1972 in a motorcycle accident eerily similar to that of Duane Allman's, even assumes the lead vocal on Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man," from The Brothers' second Tom Dowd- produced studio work, Idlewild South (Capricorn, 1970).
Not surprisingly, the band remains firmly grounded on the foundation of double drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, whose intricate interplay belies the power they generate. Meanwhile the namesake of the band, vocalist/keyboardist/composer Gregg Allman, acts something of an eye of the instrumental storm on tracks like "Midnight Rider;" sounding more resolute than world-weary, his alteration of the final lines of "Whipping Post" speaking volumes about his state of mind in the wake of the loss of his sibling: "there ain't no such thing as dyin,'" wails the singer, affecting a zen-like equanimity that belies his lusty delivery.
Unlike one of its companion pieces, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 5/1/73 (ABB Recording Company, 2005), less than state of the art technology in use over thirty years ago isn't terribly noticeable anywhere on Macon City Auditorium, Macon GA 2/11/72. Yet, even had they existed, minor sonic shortcomings could not undermine the grandeur of this performance, which deserves to be catalogued as an essential entry in the canon of The Allman Brothers Band.
Track Listing: CD1: Statesboro Blues: Done Somebody Wrong: Ain't Wastin' Time No More:
One Way Out: Midnight Rider: You Don't Love Me: Stormy Monday: Hoochie
Coochie Man: Hot 'Lanta. CD2: Les Brers in A Minor; Trouble No More; Whipping Post.