On August 26, 1971, the Allman Brothers Band went into the A&R Studios in New York in front of an intimate audience of roughly 200 people, and which was also broadcast to thousands more through New York FM radio WPLJ. Although widely circulated as a bootleg, the performance was officially released last week via Peach Records. Listen to Live from A&R Studios above, via Spotify.
The lineup for this performance included the original Allman Brothers Band: organist-singer Gregg Allman, guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe (Jai Johanny Johanson). Unfortunately, Duane Allman would die in a motorcycle accident less than two months after this recording, and Berry Oakley would die in another motorcycle accident on November 11, 1972.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Butch Trucks talked about the fact of playing on a live radio broadcast where most of their fans couldn’t see them:
That the crowd couldn’t see us didn’t mean a damn thing. Duane had two very iconic statements he used a lot. One was “This ain’t no fashion show.” The other was “This ain’t no ballet.” We were up there to play music. All you need is ears. You don’t need to be able to see it. We weren’t putting on a show. And those fans that made it into A&R were, I would imagine, the ones who came to see us at the Fillmore East every time. And they were there to hear what we had to play, not to see how cute we were or how big our dicks were.
This recording features many songs that would go on to be the band’s most well-known, including Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” Trouble No More,” “One Way Out,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” and T-Bone Walker’s “Story Monday.”
Of particular note is the recording of “You Don’t Love Me” which segues into King Curtis’s “Soul Serenade.” The talented R&B saxophonist had been murdered 13 days prior to this show. In the beginning of the track, you can hear Duane Allman talking about Curtis’ funeral, which he had attended, and Curtis’ classic Live At Fillmore West.
The Allmans’ At Fillmore East is considered one of the best live blues rock albums of all time, and this Live from A&R Studios is just as good if not better. Putting this in perspective, those legendary Fillmore concerts were recorded on March 12 & 13, 1971 and officially released in July, 1971 to great critical and commercial acclaim. The A&R performance may not be as tight and intense as At Fillmore East, but there is a laid back looseness that captures them in a different environment and a different mindset.
This is a rare look at the Allman Brothers Band playing live in the recording studio. Every track is great, and the audio quality is crystal clear. Not perfect, but this is as good as it gets.
Live from A&R Studios is currently available on Amazon.
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