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Extended Analysis

The Allman Brothers Band: Nassau Coliseum 5/1/73

By Published: March 11, 2006

Nassau 5-1-73 illustrates how the ABB lineup that garnered the most commercial success enriched the groups own musical heritage as well.

The Allman Brothers Band
Nassau Coliseum 5/1/73
Allman Brothers Band Recordings
2006

As the Allman Brothers' star has ascended again in the last few years, it's only natural that interest would elevate in their archival recordings. To meet that demand and match expectations, careful consideration has been given to each successive release, so that the respective titles add in their own way to the legacy of the band. Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY 5-17-73 is certainly no exception as it documents how the group reoriented its sound with the incorporation of the two new members added to the lineup during the recording of Brothers and Sisters.

The Allmans' innate authenticity manifests itself in both new and old material. Gregg's laid-back "Wasted Words features Dickey Betts playing slide: rather than make any attempt to match the reckless abandon of the late Duane Allman's style, his leisurely approach sounds like nothing so much as the country-blues instrument, the dobro. The guitarist's invocation of country into a style once dominated by blues and hard rock is as evident here as on "Ramblin' Man; the Allmans performance of their future 'hit' ripples with an energy that makes the studio recording sound flat. And Betts guitar tone thickens as he wends his way through "Trouble No More,' affecting a beautiful contrast with the sparkling piano notes of Chuck Leavell.

Brought into the band after playing on Gregg's solo album, Leavell transformed the sound of ABB in a number of ways with his versatile playing and improvisational ingenuity. On the band's signature song "Statesboro Blues, he adds a barrelhouse flavor that reworks the arrangement from its famous Live @ Fillmore reading (and remains in the sound of the current Allmans). The absence of a second guitar in the lineup becomes moot when you hear how Leavell and Betts interact on "One Way Out. It's here too that Gregg's voice is at its strongest whereas his singing sounds strained on "Done Somebody Wrong.

The rhythm section, however, may be the real star of Nassau 5-1-73. Drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe mesh with their playing whether in tandem on the slow blues of "Stormy Monday or interweaving rhythms on the new (at the time) instrumental "Jessica. while their drum breaks invariably goose the band along Lamar Williams plays a wiry bass that effectively counterpoints the fluidity of his partners, rendering his instrumental role distinct from his predecessor Berry Oakley. The antithesis of flash, Williams nevertheless startles when he takes an ever-so-nimble solo turn as he enact transitions as seamless as those of his rhythm section partners.

New material recorded for the studio album released later that summer, such as the jazzy "Come and Go Blues, coexists with tunes like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, that were already ABB standards by this time in their career. This performance of that famous instrumental erupts with virtually all the intensity of the Fillmore East version, which is all the more impressive since this is an uncut performance, taken, as is the rest of the close to three hours concert, straight from the soundboards of an early show in the summer tour.

Less than state of the art technology in use over thirty years ago, leaves the overall sound somewhat thin, especially when it comes to Leavell's piano, which lacks true sparkle at some intervals early on disc one. Whether contained at the source or effectively remedied through different digital remastering is a moot point, however: such minor sonic shortcomings are can't undermine the majesty of the performance at the end of the second set. The Allman Brothers Band segue from a stirring "Les Brers in A Minor, the uplifting instrumental off Eat A Peach into a "Whipping Post, that's alternately ghostly in its foreboding and savage in its force; the bright soaring half-hour encore that is "Mountain Jam, posits a resolution that is musically logical and emotionally complete.

Nassau 5-1-73 is all the more inspiring when you consider it's all part of the process by which the group transcended the tragedies of losing both original members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley within a year of each other just two years prior to this recording. More importantly, it illustrates how the ABB lineup that garnered the most commercial success also enriches the group's own musical heritage as well.

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Tracks:

CD1: Wasted Words; Done Somebody Wrong; Statesboro Blues 4:15_One Way Out; Stormy Monday; Intros: Lamar & Chuck; Midnight Rider; Jessica; Come and Go Blues; Ramblin' Man; In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.

CD2: Trouble No More; You Don't Love Me; Les Brers in A Minor; Whipping Post; Mountain Jam.

Personnel: Gregg Allman: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ, rhythm guitar; Dickey Betts: lead and slide guitars, vocals; Jaimoe: drums and percussion; Butch Trucks drums and tympani; Chuck Leavell: keyboards; Lamar Williams: bass.



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