The Allman Brothers Band
Macon, GA 2/11/72
by John Lynskey
In the 35 year existence of the Allman Brothers Band, the 11-month period of time from November 1971, to the fall of 1972 - often referred to as the "Five-Man Band" era - is an extremely important, emotionally charged, and yet often overlooked chapter of ABB history. On October 29, 1971, the band lost its founder, spiritual leader, and guiding force when guitarist Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Georgia. Words cannot describe the magnitude of devastation that hit the group, but the notion that the band might call it quits was quickly discounted - Duane would have wanted them to play on, so play on they did. Replacing Duane with another guitarist, however, was not an option, so the Allman Brothers decided to move forward as a quintet. They finished recording the studio album that they were working on at the time of Duane's passing - subsequently entitled Eat a Peach - and produced three classic tracks; "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," "Melissa," and "Les Brers in A Minor."
The remaining members - Gregg Allman on vocals and keyboards, Dickey Betts on guitar, Berry Oakley on bass, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe - hit the stage less than a month after Duane's death, and the music that literally burned with passion served as the best possible form of grieving. At the same time, their style of music was forced to change - missing were the dual harmony lines of Duane and Dickey, as well as Duane's slide guitar mastery. As a result, responsibilities shifted within the group. Aside from now being the only guitarist in a traditional two-guitar line-up, Dickey also took on the unenviable task of playing Duane's slide parts on some of the band's signature tunes, a challenge he more than met - Dickey displayed a versatility that few knew he possessed. Gregg stepped up his Hammond B-3 playing, and his vocals were more important than ever. It was Berry Oakley, however, who underwent the largest transformation. Berry had always played bass like a third guitarist, but with Duane gone, Oakley's playing became monstrous - his thundering lines filled all sorts of voids in the music with an emotion and splendor that was part evil, part magic.
This two-CD package is taken from a show at the Macon Auditorium on February 11, 1972. It was the band's 23rd show without Duane, and the first in their hometown since his loss. Playing two sets that day, the band put on a five-star performance - the music sounded comfortable, natural, and powerful.
After Gregg dedicated the show to "Brother Duane," the Allmans launched into "Statesboro Blues" with Dickey's country-flavored slide and Berry's prowling bass setting the tone, which carried over into a lean "Done Somebody Wrong." Gregg then announced a new song, "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," which was Eat a Peach poignant. A cooking "One Way Out" has Gregg on piano duplicating Duane's slide riff, and then comes a version of "Midnight Rider" with Dickey and Berry combining forces to make up for Duane's absence. The 21-minute "You Don't Love Me" absolutely belongs to Dickey Betts, who delivers a majestic, soaring run that encapsulates the utmost brilliance of his skills. Gregg shines on a sultry "Stormy Monday," which gives way to "Hoochie Coochie Man," where Oakley's whimsical vocals are in stark contrast to his precise bass playing, and "Hot 'Lanta" shows that the ABB could still swing like a jazz band.
Disc Two kicks off with "Les Brers in A Minor," and Berry's bass surges like a tide as Dickey blisters the fretboard, with Butch and Jaimoe underneath, pushing everyone along. "Trouble No More" - sans slide- segues into Berry's renowned opening to "Whipping Post," which showcases a compelling solo by Dickey that climaxes with a maddening crescendo. It was the perfect closer to a day when the Allman Brothers truly were hittin' the note for the folks in Macon.
By the late summer of 1972, the group found itself going through an unplanned but fulfilling transition. During this time, a series of informal jams with the Allman Brothers and a hot young keyboardist named Chuck Leavell took place, and the musical dialogue spoke volumes. The solution to filling out the band's sound became clear - instead of adding another guitarist, they would bring in Chuck's piano as a second lead instrument, and in October 1972, they entered Capricorn Studios to begin work on their next record. After 92 shows, the "Five-Man Band" segment of the Allman Brothers ended on November 2, 1972, when the new line-up played its first gig at Hofstra University, which was taped for ABC's late-night program, In Concert.
Just as the band seemed to be righting itself and heading in a new direction, tragedy struck again. On November 11, 1972, Berry Oakley was killed when his motorcycle collided with a city bus in Macon, only three blocks from the site of Duane's fatal crash. Despite the incomprehensible loss of another Brother, the ABB gamely moved on, adding Lamar Williams on bass and finishing the album Brothers and Sisters, which was dedicated to Berry.
Enjoy this special slice of Allman Brothers' history - just crank up that bass and let 'er boom, 'cause that's what B.O. woulda wanted.
Hittin' the Note Magazine
|Allman Brothers Band|
Macon, GA 2/11/72
- Statesboro Blues [4:09]
- Done Somebody Wrong [3:34]
- Ain't Wastin' Time No More [4:15]
- One Way Out [6:49]
- Midnight Rider [2:55]
- You Don't Love Me [21:37]
- Stormy Monday [7:58]
- Hoochie Coochie Man [4:40]
- Hot 'Lanta [5:07]
- Les Brers in A Minor [11:14]
- Trouble No More [3:53]
- Whipping Post [15:45]