Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

677

Please Call Home: The Big House Years

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
The Allman Brothers Band
Please Call Home: The Big House Years
Bright Blue Sky Productions
2009

The DVD Please Call Home: The Big House Years tells the romanticized story of an early phase in the career of Allman Brothers Band. Group archivist Kirk West makes no attempt to present an objective picture of this period in the group's evolution, but instead chooses to emphasize the factors that nurtured the bonding of the original lineup, their families and friends. As such it provides insight, albeit from a limited perspective, into the unity at the heart of the ABB's music.

As is the case with many musical movements, the so-called "Dixie Rock" the Allman Brothers spawned quickly became reduced to caricature. It remains so in 2009 as the group celebrates its 40th anniversary. Fortunately Please Call Home doesn't trade heavily on that. The history of the band contains more than its share of the archetypal stories of drug abuse and interpersonal struggle, in addition to the sad reality of tragedy in the form of the deaths of founding members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley in eerily similar motorcycle accidents. Presented in a treatise for a Hollywood movie, The Allmans storyline might well be termed contrived.

The archival and contemporary footage of interviews with bandmembers regularly refers to the music that was evolving from their fraternity. Thankfully, this thread of conversation proceeds more often in direct relation to their own relationships, despite some slightly awkward efforts to place the band and their community within the cultural upheaval of the times. The racial theme, for instance, receives the emphasis it warrants but it's a thread of realism not quite given the significance it deserves within the Allman Brothers' fusion of art and life. Accordingly, Please Call Home represents a means of ratifying The Brothers' rightful place in history, free of the often gory and tawdry hearsay that has seeped into the mainstream over the years.

Perhaps equally importantly, West, who never appears on camera, also strives to legitimize ABB and the community that arose around them as a corollary to the West Coast mindset of the late 1960s. Had the director proffered further references to San Francisco impresario Bill Graham's support of the group, through repeated bookings at his East and West coast Fillmore venues (notably including the closing of his New York site) he would haveve posited that idea more authoritatively.

Because Duane Allman's death in October 1971 ended the evolutionary process of the original lineup,there's the inescapable sensation of unfulfilled promise. Still, there remains the creative process Gregg Allman describes continuing as the group's visibility rose in the wake of his sibling's deat. It's a decidely mystical view of the flowering of the household that continued through West's residence and eventually took the form of his ambition to turn the Big House into a bonafide national landmark, The Allman Brothers Band Museum. The business corollary as represented by Phil Walden and Capricorn Records isn't given short shrift in The Big House Years but remains limited, most likely due to the death of Walden (who gained his first cache as manager of Otis Redding, Al Green and Percy Sledge, among others).

The elevation of Oakley's role in the group's development thus becomes a dominant strain in here. ABB drummer Butch Trucks alludes to the bassist's influential contributions, within the household and the band, as secondary only to Duane Allman's (at which point the messianic concept of the late guitarist's life appears most prominently). Oakley's integral role in the Allman legacy finds a natural focal point in this documentary often lost in the general history of the group, thus making this DVD more important than it otherwise might be .

Trucks is candid to a fault in a short excerpt where he refers to now estranged founding member Dickey Betts in less than laudable terms. But that lapse of taste is more than offset by the expression of generosity toward Mama Louise Hudson, the Macon, Georgia restauranteur frequently and effusively lauded in the body of the film and to which an extra feature is devoted. The inclusion of a similar epilogue seems redundant as it's also appended to the main body of video content.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read La La Land DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi" DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl" DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004" DVD/Film Reviews The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004
by Doug Collette
Published: June 3, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!