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The Allman Brothers Band: Play All Night

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Much as the current Allman Brothers lineup had coalesced in 2003, the ensemble that came together in 1989 for the twentieth anniversary box set Dreams (Polydor, 1989) tour had tightened considerably (minus keyboardist /vocalist Johnny Neel) by the time they decided to engage in their first extended run at New York's Beacon Theatre and record themselves for a live album. Play All Night: Live At the Beacon Theatre consists of performances captured on March 10 & 11 in 1992 and over the course of its two discs, effectively supplants the concert pieces of that era captured on An Evening With ... 1st Set (Epic, 1992) and 2nd Set (Epic, 1995).

Its title echoing the impromptu shout near the end of the seminal live recording At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971), this package has been produced by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Warren Haynes from original recordings overseen by long-time Allmans producer, the late Tom Dowd. The set list retains the uniformity espoused by the group's deceased founder, guitarist Duane Allman, allowing the group to move effortlessly from one familiar number ("Statesboro Blues") to another ("You Don't Love Me") and concentrate on improvisation to render the numbers fresh, as well as to incorporate select sit-ins such as harpist Thom Doucette and the newly recruited percussionist Marc Quinones as a regular member of the septet.

Yet as much as the arrangements and the musicianship is polished, there's a raw abandon to the music, even on new material of the era such as "End of the Line," the sensation even more palpable on guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Dickey Betts' "Nobody Knows." A swirling rise and fall of intensity in melody and rhythm, in turn mirrored by the guttural caterwauling of keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman, effectively renders obsolete the studio version from Shades of Two Worlds (Epic, 1991).

But that's in keeping with a remarkable rediscovery of style honed since this particular collective assembled. Haynes' presence not only restored the Brothers' original two-guitar attack, thus allowing a more accurate replication of songs such as "Blue Sky," but his growing skill, including mastery of slide there and on "Dreams," pushed his counterpart to play at an ever higher level of intricacy and power. This reciprocal dynamic echoed the dual-guitar axis' influence on the rest of the band as it was originally instituted, too: bassist Allen Woody, who would go on to form Gov't Mule with Haynes in 1994 (and unfortunately passed away in 2000), plays with a taut insistence comparable to his predecessor, the late Berry Oakley, while at this juncture, both drummers Jaimoe and Butch Trucks, were interacting with comparably muscular strength.

A novel twist to Allmans concerts of this period included an acoustic interlude in which self-composed standards like "Midnight Rider, "as well as the title tune from the reformed ABB's first studio record, Seven Turns (Epic, 1990), evoked folk and country roots almost as deeply as Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson
1911 - 1938
vocalist
's "Come On In My Kitchen" hearkens to the Allman Brothers' roots in the blues (restated via {{Muddy Waters))' "Hoochie Coochie Man" where Haynes' vocal reaffirms newfound strengths of the group exhibited just prior). It's a tribute to the skill of song sequencing that the sly syncopation cum shuffle of "Low Down Dirty Mean" serves as such a smooth segue into that segment of the concert as presented on these two discs, thus embodying the solidity of the Allman Brothers Band in this configuration.

The logic of that approach continues as the show builds inexorably but joyously to a dramatic climax with "Whipping Post." Moving with readily discernible acceleration through a high-flying "Jessica," a languorous, then frenetic finish to "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" (with its spirited three-way drum interlude just long enough to showcase Quinones contributions to the rhythm axis), plus the sing-along set piece "Revival," the Allmans exhibit as much of a sense of adventure as consummate skill, both individually and collectively.

As much as the Allman Brothers' performances of this period did justice to their legacy, so does Live at the Beacon Theatre 1992—and to practically the same extent endorses the inspiring atmosphere the group discovered at the venue.

Track Listing: CD 1: Statesboro Blues; You Don’t Love Me; End Of The Line; Blue Sky; Nobody Knows; Low Down Dirty Mean; Seven Turns; Midnight Rider; Come On In My Kitchen. CD 2:Guitar Intro / Hoochie Coochie Man; Jessica; Get On With Your Life; In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed; Revival; Dreams; Whipping Post.

Personnel: Gregg Allman: keyboards, vocals; Dickey Betts: lead guitar, vocals; Warren Haynes: lead guitar, vocals; Allen Woody: bass; Marc Quinones: percussion; Jaimoe: drums; Butch Trucks: drums.

Record Label: Sony-Legacy Music

Style: Jam Band


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