Fillmore East & West 1970 & 1971 (Mid Valley Sampler)
The Allman Brothers Band are one of the bands whose live reputation far supersedes their studio work, and no other band have been so obsessive about documenting and releasing. Starting with At The Fillmore in 1971, they’ve released no less than fourteen live albums including archive releases. And since 2003 they’ve released all of their current shows individually and even in massive boxsets with the entire year’s output.
This activity has rendered unofficial releases scare, even though there are still some classic shows that have not been released officially. Fillmore East & West 1970 & 1971 is another cheap production on Mid Valley with atrocious artwork at a very low price. It presents three shows from the Fillmores over the course of ten months.
The first two shows are making their silver pressed debut. The third and final show was released both unofficially and officially within the space of a month several years ago. The sound quality is generally excellent despite some of the limitations of the recordings and overall this is a good document to have.
Fillmore East, New York, NY – September 23rd, 1970
Disc 1 (33:19): Bill Graham introduction, Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, Dreams, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Whipping Post
Bill Graham organized an television special called “Welcome To The Fillmore East” for PBS stations. He assembled a series of short sets by such acts as the Byrds, the Elvin Bishop Group, Sha-Na-Na, Van Morrison, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East staff at work.
The Allman Brothers play a short half hour set with several. After Bill Graham’s introduction they start off with “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” from their second album Idlewild South which was released that very day. The tight performance features the band’s friend, Tom Doucette, blowing harp over the group’s trademark sound. Gregg’s vocals are barely audible in this and the next song “Dreams” because of faulty equipment.
They loosen up noticeably on the next song, Dickey Betts’ “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” Another song from the new album, it’s played close to the studio recording for perhaps the only time. The short set ends with a ferocious “Whipping Post” that features outstanding melodic bass playing from Berry Oakley, with both Duane Allman and Dickey Betts soaring over the propulsive rhythm section.
Overall it is a short, nervous but ultimately exciting recording.
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – January 29th, 1971
Disc 2 (73:41): Statesboro Blues, Trouble No More, Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Dreams, You Don’t Love Me, Whipping Post
The Allman Brothers Band played five shows at the Fillmore West between January 28th and January 31st opening for Hot Tuna. Although tapes circulate for each set, only the first show has been pressed before on Keep On Pushin’ (Night Hawk NH-01007/8). The soundboard recording for the January 29th show is very well balanced, clear and enjoyable.
Keeping the set down to just over an hour, the songs become longer and more complex as the show carries on. “Statesboro Blues” and “Trouble No More” both sound excellent, but “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” starts propelling the show.
“In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” contains excellent sympathetic guitar work between the guitarists. The final song “Whipping Post” pushed twenty minutes and contains a slow, almost eastern sounding melody in the middle which really pushed their musical boundaries.
Fillmore East, New York, NY – June 27th, 1971
Disc 3 (79:30): Bill Graham’s announcement, Fillmore East eulogy broadcast, Statesboro Blues, Don’t Keep Me Wondering, Done Somebody Wrong, One Way Out, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Midnight Rider, Hot ‘Lanta, Whipping Post, You D0n’t Love Me
Disc three contains the final night at the Fillmore East on June 27th, 1971. This show flirted with an official release for more than thirty years. “One Way Out” from this show was used on the 1971 Live At The Fillmore East and also issued on the 1972 studio LP Eat A Peach. On bootleg cd most of the show appears on Southern Revenge on the Alternate Edge Productions label.
That issue, and its cdr clone on the Luxembourg label Hawg Leg is missing “Don’t Keep Me Wondering”, “Done Somebody Wrong”, “Midnight Rider”, and “Hot ‘Lanta”. Even more of the show surfaced on Super Sonic’s release Last Serenade (SS 99001) which is complete except for cuts in “Whipping Post” and “You Don’t Love Me”.
The Closing Night Of The Fillmore East (Scorpio – FE-62771-1), by contrast, has no cuts in those songs and has more tape at the cuts between tracks, capturing more stage talk and tuning. Scorpio assured us this is the absolute final word on this show. It is interesting that this was released the same exact day, May 23rd 2006, that Mercury Records released Eat A Peach: Deluxe Edition, a two disc set with the remastered LP and the entire Fillmore East set on the second disc.
Mercury’s is about two minutes shorter with Bill Graham’s introduction cut out, but musically it is complete. The engineers were able to eliminate the hiss, bring up the guitars higher in the mix and center the instruments to make it much better sounding (in my opinion) than the raw soundboard Scorpio used.
Mid Valley sounds closer to Scorpio than Mercury. It has Bill Graham’s introduction and also a minute long television newscast about the Fillmore East’s closing. It’s an interesting, but not essential piece to have.
Regardless this is an excellent soundboard recording. It has the same timbre as all of the tapes in Wolfgang’s vault that we’ve been enjoying online since February. The stage announcements are fixed in one channel only, and the guitars are in the right and organ in the left.
The tape begins with Graham introducing the Allman Brothers Band as one of the best he’s heard according to his untrained ears, and the band embark on a show that packs a lot into an eighty minute set.
The opening numbers show some restraint and not until “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” does the band get into an elongated jam session reaching over twelve minutes. The show ends with a twenty minute “Whipping Post” and a seventeen minute encore “You Don’t Love Me”/ “Final Serenade” where Duane Allman quotes Handel’s “Joy To The World.”
Like other titles in this series, Fillmore East & West 1970 & 1971 is priced and packaged cleaply. Mid Valley use the same generic TMoQ covers and labels on the discs with only an insert indicating the contents. As much as the label may think it a clever idea to resurrect the spirit of the 1970’s vinyl bootleg, it is still atrocious and they should know better.