Another classic live album today, we explore the fusion of southern rock and jam bands with the famous album “At Fillmore East”, by the Allman Brothers. This album captures this band at their peak, sadly confirmed months after the release when band founder and slide guitar legend Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident. “At Fillmore East” is rated #105 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time, and captures not only the band in one of their final great moments, but one of the last major performances at New York’s iconic Fillmore East music club, owned by Bill Graham. The Fillmore East closed not long after this album was recorded.
True to form, this production is only seven songs over 4 album sides, stretching out some of their biggest hits giving Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, their other lead guitarist, an opportunity to shine and jam at length. At times, the slide guitar is a bit too harsh or high in pitch for my taste, but the intersection between the two also produces a lot of magical moments. I love that they have two drummers, a trend we also see with the Grateful Dead, and I also think it is incredibly significant that one of their six primary members of the band, drummer Jamoe Johanson, was black, which had to help open some minds above and below the Mason-Dixon line.
The setlist is pure Allman Brothers, opening with their cover of “Statesboro Blues”, with a continued build through “Done Somebody Wrong”, “Stormy Monday”, and “You Don’t Love Me”. I really enjoyed the Dickey Betts composition “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, and as their signature closer, they crush a 23 minute version of “Whipping Post”.
Like many musicians from this time, Duane Allman’s life was cut way too short. He remains one of the most influential and highly regarded rock guitarists of all time, and this album will always be his signature showcase.
On a side note, I was reminded once again today the bonding power of music. As my friends and I took on the extreme (for me) challenge of climbing a 14,000 foot mountain, we passed the time discussing music, resonating on what we all enjoyed and sharing experiences from recordings and live events. Music is a treasure and a gift in my life, as are my friends. I can’t imagine a single day without either.