The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East (1971)
Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo where we’re taking a listen to one of the best live albums ever put to vinyl (and what could be included on a list of the best albums of all time), At Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers Band. At Fillmore East was the third album released by the band and is notable for the fact that their previous two albums only bubbled into the lowest numbers of the Billboard Hot 200. Recorded over two nights of performances in New York, the Fillmore East concerts proved to be significant for the band, launching them into the national spotlight and solidifying their place in the Southern Rock movement. This 4-side LP went on to be the Allman Brothers’ first platinum selling album and is a fine example of how blues, jazz, and southern rock can come together in one album, from two nights of shows, to make a masterpiece.
I can’t say enough good things about this album, and having never listened to it the full way through before this listen, it has quickly become one of my favorites. The audio is impeccable and this record captures the true spirit of a live act. The band has gone on to say that the concerts were slightly above average but generally captured the live energy and performance quality. Each night after the show, the band went back to the studio to listen back to the recording to decide what was acceptable and what wasn’t, as they were opposed to overdubbing the record, citing the fact that if they did that, it wouldn’t be a truly live album. I recommend listening to this album in one go with a set of headphones to get the fullest live experience that you can. At Fillmore East is a true masterpiece of rock, blues, and jazz coming together seamlessly in one album, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
Statesboro Blues: “Statesboro Blues” is exactly how you would hope that a southern rock/blues rock album would start. The slide on the electric guitar stood out the most to me, I haven’t heard that “extreme” use of the slide in the early 1970s before Lynyrd Skynyrd came onto the scene, so that’s a great example of the band forging a path for the future of the genre and for their own sound. The song has two short jam sessions in it that don’t particularly enhance the song, but the vocals are great and this is generally just a good, good song. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Done Somebody Wrong: The off-beat intro that built into an on-beat song had me hooked from the start. That’s some great musicality! I really liked “Done Somebody Wrong,” perhaps more so than “Statesboro Blues.” The latter is more subdued, which I think lends better to blues in general. I like how the song build from the quieter verses into the guitar solos at the end of each, showing you two ways that blues rock can be done. This is a great track, give it a listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10
Stormy Monday: I normally don’t like slow songs as much as faster paced songs, but “Stormy Monday” is an exception to the rule. The blues are so smooth on this track, making you feel like you’re in a smoky bar somewhere in New Orleans listening to a live group, not a recording of a band made in New York. The slow pace of “Stormy Monday” is exactly what the album needed and gives the musicians a different way to show their skills. In a sense, anyone can play quickly, but when the song slows down, technique becomes apparent, and these gents can play. Wash your cares away with the blues and enjoy this stunning track. Dad’s Rating 8/10
You Don’t Love Me: At over nineteen minutes long, “You Don’t Love Me” looks like a daunting song to tackle, but this bluesy track is full of instrumentals that keep listeners engaged the whole way through. Originally written by Willie Cobbs in 1960 and adapted from a Bo Diddly song, Duane Allman selected “You Don’t Love Me” as one of the extended jam songs for the Fillmore East concerts after hearing another cover of it on a Junior Wells album. The Allman Brothers sped up the tempo significantly from the original for their cover, giving it more credit as a rock song than its original blues. The drive of this song is infectious and you really can’t help but tap your foot to the beat. In my opinion, this is one of the best songs on the album. The jam session is faultless and the cover harkens back to the original while managing to be unique. The instrumentation is top-notch and I’ve found something new each time I’ve listened back to it this week. Really great stuff here! Dad’s Rating 10/10
Hot ‘Lanta: “Hot ‘Lanta” acts as the perfect instrumental transition song on this album, linking together elements of the blues, southern rock, and folk that we’ve heard in one song. The keyboard solo is something I never expected to hear, but it’s a job well done and I enjoyed hearing it. There are elements of jazz and progressive rock on this song to that we find on some of the longer songs like “You Don’t Love Me” and “Whipping Post” too. This is another great song, and the only place you’ll hear it is on a live album because the Allman Brothers never put it on a studio album. Dad’s Rating 9/10
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed: Another surprise coming from the Allman Brothers Band! I’ve never heard “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” before and I’m blown away! This is a TIGHT rock track that manages to weave elements of jazz and latin music into a southern rock album. It never loses its roots. The instrumentation is out of this world, the whole band is so in sync and playing off each other that it makes this a joy to listen to. I find myself legitimately at a loss for words trying to describe how good this song is, and it may be one of the best jazz inspired tracks I’ve listened to. Whatever you do, don’t skip this one. Dad’s Rating 10/10
Whipping Post: The Allman Brothers had to finish the concert with their biggest song to date, and “Whipping Post” doesn’t disappoint! You can even hear the fans cheering for them to play it when you listen to the album. This extended version of “Whipping Post” clocks in at just over twenty-three minutes long and features multiple lengthy solos during the multiple jam sessions, each one broken up by a round of the chorus. I can’t fault this song; this is an opus for the Allman Brothers Band, and it’s perfect the way that it is. There’s so much energy and soul poured into this live version of “Whipping Post” that the song plays at a frenetic pace, even during the slowed down sections. I kid you not when I say that you can sit there for twelve or thirteen minutes without realizing that you’ve been listening to the same song the whole time, it’s that engaging. Finally the ending maybe the most un-abashed and thunderous finale to a concert I have ever heard. This is southern rock. Period. Dad’s Rating 10/10
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