The Allman Brothers Band: Live at Great Woods 1991

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The Allman Brothers Band
Live at Great Woods 1991

When The Allman Brothers Band regrouped in 1989, there were no long- term plans after the roadwork in support of the box set Dreams (Polydor, 1989). Accordingly, when the response to those concerts led to further work, including the signing to Sony/Epic Records, the support the band received, at least at first, was in keeping with the Brothers' growing (re)commitment to themselves and their loyal fanbase.

Thus, a concert video filmed at one of ABB's bastions of popularity, the Great Woods amphitheater just outside of Boston, was released to further the commercial viability of the group in combination with their studio recordings, 7 Turns (Epic, 1990) and Shades of Two Worlds (Epic, 1991), as well as the de rigueur live albums of the period An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band First Set/Second Set (Epic, 1992 & 1995). The interpolation of interview material on early video editions of Live at Great Woods 1991 undermined the impact of the performance, a mistake now rectified with a newly reconfigured DVD (there is no corresponding Blu-ray).

The newly streamlined editing of Live at Great Woods 1991 preserves the flow of the show and the cumulative momentum The Allman's generate. Material both new (at the time) and familiar, including "End of the Line " and "Blue Sky," leads to an abbreviated acoustic set that reaffirms the expert pacing. The comparatively subdued likes of "Going Down the Road Feelin' Bad" might've been lost on the loud crowd, but that doesn't appear to faze Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody as they sit in a line stage front to offer that tune and, not surprisingly, "Midnight Rider."

On the contrary, the respite from the electric instrumental interplay including drummers Jaimoe and Butch Trucks plus percussionist Marc Quinones, only heightens their collective visceral power when the full band returns on Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man;" the understated segue of an intro, from Betts' unplugged bottleneck to Haynes' electric slide, elevates the impact even further.

Despite the lack of ingenuity in the camera work, the power of the Allman Brothers playing, magnified in the home stretch by the breathless sequencing of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Jessica," (not on the previous DVD release!?), "Revival" and the de rigueur encore "Whipping Post," is undeniable. Originally conceived as an installment of a Japanese television series, the scintillating intensity of the musicianship here commanded nothing less than an extended presentation, in this form now close to ninety-minutes .

Would that this reissue had been tendered technological updating in the form of video and audio remastering though: the sonic depth of the previous DVD release is greater, albeit only ever so slightly so, and even just a bit of contemporary content on this 'new' package, in addition to the expanded concert footage, would've been welcome if only to impart historical perspective. Still, like its companion piece cd set, Play All Night: Live at the Beacon Theatre 1992 (Legacy, 2014), Live at Great Woods 1991 makes its own statement.

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