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Brothers & Sisters
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Sadly, the recording sessions for, Brothers and Sisters, was not without incident. During the process of making the album, original bass player Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident, not too dissimilar to Duane's. This left the band with a new bass played Lamar Williams, who would go onto to recording the follow up album Win, Lose Or Draw before the band eventually split up and losing his life to cancer in 1983.
Despite the short comings due to ill tempers, drugs, alcohol and death, The Allman Brothers Band managed to pull one last classic album out of their bag and it is a doozy. The record is known mostly for containing the hit single, Ramblin' Man, as well as they ever recognisable, Jessica. The latter is known for being the theme tune to the popular TV show Top Gear. Though, the album version is considerably longer than the single edit, the version most people are familiar with. As an instrumental, it holds its own against the bands other lengthy classics and is in itself a superb song and one for the ages. The rest of the album is quite consistent in its greatness, with songs like, Wasted Words, South Bound and Come and Go Blues, really keeping things above other bands albums.
Those familiar with the previous albums from The Allman Brothers Band will notice that the sound has turned a little more mellow than normal on, Brothers and Sisters. This is down to Dickie Betts' country music leanings and it really helps the album for the most part. It brings a little extra flavour and personality making it really stand out amongst the bands other classic material.
Unfortunately, this would be the end of their classic albums run. The follow up to this record Win, Lose or Draw is a tired album that clearly wears the bands problems on its sleeves and features only one stand out track (High Falls). There is some great post break up material you can find like Enlightened Rogues or the Warren Haynes albums, but for those who want their '70s material, Brothers and Sisters, is the perfect stopping point.
Published by Steven Lornie of Demonszone
Released July 2013 - Brothers And Sisters DELUXE EDITION (2CDs) on Mercury/Universal 3728804 (Barcode 602537288045) breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (38:23 minutes):
1. Wasted Words
2. Ramblin' Man
3. Come And Go Blues
4. Jelly Jelly
5. Southbound [Side 2]
7. Pony Boy
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 5th album "Brothers And Sisters" - released August 1973 in the USA on Capricorn CP 0111 and September 1973 in the UK on Capricorn 2429 102 (reissued shortly after onto Capricorn K 47507).
Disc 2 - REHEARSALS, JAMS and OUTTAKES (66:16 minutes):
1. Wasted Words (3 Dec 1972 Rehearsal) 5:06 minutes
2. Trouble No More (Oct/Nov 1972 Rehearsal - Muddy Waters cover) 3:58 minutes
3. Southbound (Instrumental Outtake, Recorded 8 Nov 1972) 5:56 minutes
4. One Way Out (Rehearsal) 5:38 minutes
5. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of The Town (Rehearsal) 11:14 minutes
6. Done Somebody Wrong (3 Dec 1972 Rehearsal) 3:50 minutes
7. Double Cross (Outtake - Recorded 13 May 1973) 4:36 minutes
8. Early Morning Blues (Outtake - Recorded 27 May 1973) 9:27 minutes
9. A Minor Jam (Studio Jam - Recorded 8 March 1973) 16:30 minutes
Tracks 1 to 9 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Note: There is also a 4CD American SUPER DELUXE EDITION of "Brothers And Sisters" on Mercury/Universal B0018079-02 (Barcode 602537288076) that offers 2 further 2CDs (10 tracks on Disc 3 and 7 on Disc 4). Both feature a Previously Unreleased Concert - "Live At Winterland, 26 September 1973". This has unfortunately garnished something of a price tag since its release...
The 3-way foldout card digipak has one of those ugly stick-on DE bandanas unceremoniously taped onto the bottom of the outer digipak instead of the outer title plastic slipcase of old. Those slipcases were/are awkward to get the discs out of - but I actually kind of miss them now. Once opened the inside has a live photo of the band spread across all three flaps (under both see-through plastic trays) and the 24-page booklet is a chunky and colourful affair with excellent SCOTT SCHINDER liner notes. Butch Truck's son Vaylor is on the front of the booklet and Berry Oakley's daughter Brittany is on the back page - as they were on the front and rear of the original gatefold vinyl LP sleeve in 1973. There's the famous family photo gracing the centerspread and live shots of the band in action and detailed reissue credits on the last four pages. But the big news is a massive upgrade in sound. ANDY SKUROW and ELIOT KISSELEFF did the Tape Research and Transfers (respectively) and SETH FOSTER (a very experienced Universal engineer) did the mastering - and what a bang-up job they've done. Everything to my ears is better - vocals, guitars, but especially the Rhythm Section - clear and full of presence.
The album opens with Gregg Allman's "Wasted Words" which now has huge punch - Betts slide guitar tight with the vocals. Perennial rave "Ramblin' Man" has the keyboards punching above its former weight while that dual guitar finish sounds brill. Chuck Leavell's fab piano licks on "Come And Go Blues" now get a bit of extra oomph - but they properly explode out of the speakers on the Side 1 Bluesy finisher "Jelly Jelly". Side 2 opens with another Dicky Betts original "Southbound" where the cohesion of the guitars, piano and especially the funkily tight rhythm section blast into your living room. New Bassist Lamar Williams had only finished auditions for the band and along with Drummer Jaimoe they absolutely rock this track. We then an instrumental that has since gone into history - up there with "Albatross" and "Cavatina" in its impact - the wonderful "Jessica" in its full seven and half minutes glory (where would "Top Gear" be without it). With Betts given full Lead Guitar reign, Les Dudek on Acoustic and Gregg Allman on Organ - that Leavell solo part still put chills up me - and now sounding utterly brilliant. "Brothers And Sisters" ends on "Pony Boy" with Betts on his Dobro sounding like he's in your living room - beautifully done and easy to see why it's a concert fave still (lyrics from it title this review).
I had expected Disc 2 to be workmanlike - it s not - it rocks. Because the rehearsals are from their most volatile, sad and yet strangely productive period - to my ears the tracks bristle with looseness and discovery and a band wanting to matter and cope. The "Southbound" instrumental is a case in point - the band boogieing through the song like it was the most natural thing in the world (which for them it was). The cover of Muddy Waters' old Chess classic "Trouble No More" is just brilliant - while a real find is "Early Morning Blues" - the song replaced by "Jelly Jelly" on the album. Using the same back beat - you get mournful Rock Blues for nine and half great minutes ("What goes on in your worried and mixed up mind..."). The other cool outtake is "Double Cross" - a Lynyrd Skynyrd Boogie Shuffle circa "Nuthin' Fancy". Admittedly the near seventeen minutes of "A Minor Jam" will test the patience of newcomers - but I can't help think that die-hards will secretly chew up every indulgent guitar/piano jamming minute of it.
So there you it - a winner made better. Five weeks at Number 1 and their first platter to go Platinum - it's easy to hear why "Brothers And Sisters" endures all these years after. And I still wonder what that child is looking at in those leaves below his feet...a plectrum maybe...
Now I have the whole Brothers and sisters album on CD,and it's a real gem of a record,let me tell you.
With the whole band determined to carry on,after the tragic deaths of Duanne Allman and Berry Oakley - their efforts truly pay off.
Probably the most well known track is : instrumental - Jessica - Top gear theme.other standouts are rambling man and southbound - conjuring up the sound of America's deep south.Not a dud track on the album - all excellent.
With Dickey Betts' country tinged vocals,and guitar playing,these are central to the albums charm and excellence.surving Allman brother Greg,could portray a low profile on stage,but certainly makes his mark,with amazing keyboard playing throughout the album.
Closing track: pony boy is a fitting end to a,yes - classic album,from the under-rated - in UK at least - The Allman Brothers band.
Ps:excellent packaging and re-mastered? Sound for this cd release.