Jamming With Last Night (Vague Records 078)
Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Friday Oct 15, 1971
Statesboro Blues / Don’t Keep me Wonderin’ / Done Somebody Wrong / One Way Out / In Memory of Elizabeth Reed / Hot ‘Lanta / Stormy Monday / You Don’t Love Me / Revival / Trouble No More. [ 61:56 ]
This was to be the last recorded show with brother Duane – He only played two more shows with the Allmans & fourteen days later his life would sadly be cut short. This tape captures Duane at his best – A ferocious guitar player with an almost all encompassing imagination when he was playing the guitar. Tonight was no exception as he flings his way around the frets with a brilliant mastery & effortless fluidity. The band are possibly also buoyed by the success of their recent breakthrough & best selling album “Live At The Fillmore East” the album that would posh their name in to the popular charts.
The only drawbacks from this audience recording is that it’s very treble heavy & for the first couple of tracks tainted by slight static noise – Nothing so disconcerting that pushing up the bass & turning down the treble on your system can’t do to fix but close listening for an extended period of time could induce the dreaded ‘listeners fatigue’ where a recording that has been excessively ‘no-noised’ & made a little too ‘bright’ for example could bring on a headache.
For what it is historically then it’s priceless even if it may not many repeat listens. It is also, at the 65 minute mark & with ten tracks to it’s name it’s not the routine jamathon that you might be used to with the Allman’s recordings only “In Memory Of Elisabeth Reed” & “You Don’t Love Me” push the 8 minute envelope.
The odd title comes from a fixation of various labels to give the word ‘jamming’ or ‘jam’ precedent in most Allman recordings in their catalogue – ranging through “Jamming In Midnight”, “You Don’t Like Rambling Jam” & various others.
The tape begins part way through the intro of “Statesboro Blues” – a frenetic version of the Blind Willie McTell cover. Right from the start the band gallop through the song. Gregg is in great voice as usual tonight although this is buried by the musicianship a little & his organ playing doesn’t really puncture through as it will later on. Duane’s guitar playing is searingly powerful & he wings a perfect screaming solo almost throughout.
By the time we get to “Don’t Keep Me Wondering” Gregg’s organ & the duo of drums are a lot better presented, matching the rest of the instruments. Once again a scolding rendition of the track is performed that receives a rapturous performance at the end.
“One Way Out” – Producer Tom O’Dowd’s preferred Allman brothers track from the “Fillmore .. ” album – immediately has the crowd clapping along in perfect time. The power from that taken by the band translates in to yet another powerhouse performance. Once again the band nail with the track with both Dickie Betts & Duane trading different licks – Dickie a boogie styled chop out & Duane’s bottle neck slide guitar work out. The playing halts before the end so Gregg can fill in his acapella part before the band catch up with an exemplary ‘big finish’
The epic “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” was a concert favorite – it’s length allowing the band to space out & delve a little deeper in to the grooves. A sultry & expressive guitar line from Duane gives more for the beer drinkers & stoners to get their heads around before the tempo increases marginally & Gregg gets his chance to vamp a little more behind his keyboards. As the song progresses then Dicky & Duane begin to build their own guitar parts taking the track every which way by use of jazzy improvisations. Tonight they stretch out the track to a none too slack 10 minutes although they have been known to wind it out over 30 minutes at times.
Their next track “Hot ‘Lanta” follows the same styling as “In Memory of .. ” – Tricky, swooping guitar play with blissful keyboard vamps although this time space is left for a brief, crushing drum duo by Butch Trucks & Jai Johanny Johannson before repeating the theme then slowing in to an evaporating, deathless whisper.
“You Don’t Love Me” is a brilliant & exhilarating jumble through the Willy Cobbs original. The guitars are again set to pulverise with extraordinary effort put in to throw in some classic if not too sincere soloing that, were this not a more serious band, may be seen as mockery of the whole grunting & gunning guitar histrionics of other players. As it is they fit perfectly in with the show & add a finesse to the proceedings.
“Trouble No More” – the final song captured for the evening – is a hot wired blues storm. Finding Gregg back in the hot seat pouring his heart back in to the lyrics while Duane springs back out the slide guitar placing a good few flying solos in to the blend to end the show in considerable style.
The set, while shoddily presented, could be exemplary if from a soundboard recording. As it stands then it’s Duane’s final playtime for rock & blues. There are better CDs to listen to but for Duane’s final concert it’s a potent reminder as to the guitar glory that we’re missing.