This four-CD celebration offers an incredibly comprehensive look at the Allman Brothers, adding early demos, rare live recordings, alternate takes, outtakes, remixes, and solo efforts to the already powerful "official" catalog. Their progression from '60s Invasion-style rockers to blues cover band with a taste for B.B. King to dynamic rock & roll juggernaut is astonishing, and the inclusion of sundry oddities will make collectors happy. The booklet is thorough and lovingly produced.~Marc Greilsamer
Spanning four discs and nearly 100 tracks, Dreams is one of those rare box sets that tells a story while delivering the definitive word on its subject. Its success has a lot to do with its status as Polygram/Bill Levinson's sequel to the acclaimed hit Crossroads, which summarized Eric Clapton's winding career perfectly. They follow the same approach here, gathering pre-Allman's recordings from the clan, including cuts by the Allman Joys, selecting the hits from the classic years, and adding stray cuts by solo projects to the mix. It's a smart move and it results in a terrific box that truly offers the definitive word on one of the longest-running dramas in Southern rock. Yes, the Allmans reunited rather successfully after this box, so none of that material is here, but it's not missed – this is the story of the band. AMG
The Allman Brothers Band compilation album, released on the Japanese label Buena Suerte, is part of the Super Stars Best Collection series. Partially unofficial release.
If you’re going to listen to the Allman Brothers, make sure you have the first four records. The band made The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, At Fillmore East, and three-fourths of Eat a Peach with its original lineup, before Duane Allman’s fatal motorcycle accident in 1971. The Tom Dowd-produced Idlewild South, their second album, comes off with a little less ferocity than their debut — which is perhaps the result of reaching for new sounds the second time around. “Revival,” the album’s opener, introduces Dickey Betts as a composer.
Live at Ludlow Garage 1970 features 91 minutes of the Allman Brothers Band in concert at a Cincinnati venue that they loved, nearly a year before their legendary Fillmore shows. The acoustics are good, though a little shaky – the tape was made at seven-and-a-half IPS, the bare minimum professional standard, which leaves more hiss than one might like and a bit less clarity than a fully professional live album might show. On the other hand, the group's sound imparts its own punch and clarity, and it was done in stereo, and if not for the existence of the Fillmore tapes, and the fact that the albums they yielded sold a kajillion copies, this show might well have been released in the 1970s. It isn't as intense as the Fillmore shows, but it does capture the group as a little-known working band with but a single album out and building a reputation – and with Dickey Betts yet to emerge as either a singer or composer and their sound still being worked out ("Statesboro Blues" gets a startlingly subdued performance, anticipating the acoustic version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" from the '90s recording An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set).
The Allman Brothers Band's fifth live release in 25 years, cut during 1994 in Raleigh, NC, and at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey, is a high-water mark in their Epic Records catalog. If anything, they're even better here than they were on the earlier Evening with the Allman Brothers Band, the old material getting fresh new approaches – the band was on for both nights, and presented sets, including an acoustic version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Jessica" (which won a Grammy Award), that soared and flowed, especially Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes' guitars. What's more, the clarity of the recording and the volume at which it was recorded make this a most rewarding 70 minutes of live music on a purely technical level – you can practically hear the action on the guitars during the acoustic set. It won't replace Live at Fillmore East or the live portions of Eat a Peach, but it deserves a place on the shelf not very far from them.
Blending rock, blues, country, and jazz, the godfathers of Southern rock in all its wild, woolly glory. Collection includes: 'The Allman Brothers Band' (1969); 'Idlewild South' (1970); 'At Fillmore East' (1971); 'Eat A Peach' (1972); 'Brothers And Sisters' (1973).