Tokyo 1992 1st Night (Zion-115)
Koseinenkin Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan – January 19, 1992
Disc 1 (75:35) Introduction, Statesboro Blues, End Of The Line, Blue Sky, Nobody Knows, Low Down Dirty Mean, Melissa, Come On In My Kitchen, Seven Turns, Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad, Hoochie Coochie Man
Disc 2 (66:23) Kind Of Bird, Get On With Your Life, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Band Introductions, Revival, Whipping Post
If there is one artist who’s passing this year cut deep, it was Gregg Allman. The Allman Brothers Band music is like gospel to me, their unique blend of Rock, Jazz, and Country heaped with a huge portion of live improvisation bore itself into my soul and will be a constant in my life, as long as I can breathe and hear. There have been many incarnations of the Allman Brothers Band, I find worth in every one, but other than the original run from 1969 to 1976, the line up that took life in 1989 was certainly one that could contend with the first line up. Here’s the short story, the formation of the group centered around the Dreams box set and the core four original members, Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe were joined by Johnnie Neel on keys and harp, Allen Woody on bass, and virtuoso guitarist and songwriter Warren Haynes and in 1990 they released a statement of their intentions. Seven Turns came out in July 1990 and to the joy of fans everywhere was the strongest record since Brothers And Sisters some 17 years previous. The line up gave Neel the boot and brought in percussionist Marc Quinones for its follow up, Shades Of Two Worlds in 1992.
Seven Turns was an excellent record, Shades would be its better. As a songwriter, Dickey Betts was never better and the record and the one that followed (An Evening With…) are essential parts of the catalog. Needless to say I was excited to see some new ABB titles being released. As a tape trader I amassed a huge collection of live recordings in the late 90’s and 2000’s, I have since let go of much of the mid 90’s stuff, and after looking over a list from back in the day, did not have anything from the Japanese tours, another welcome addition. Since the band allowed taping and trading the majority of recordings are of good quality. This recording from Japan certainly falls into the excellent range. It is clear and detailed yet a little distant with frequencies favoring the mid and upper, just a very small amount of hiss is present, noticeable in the very quiet sections. All instruments and vocals are clean in the mix although the acoustic section is a bit low, surprising although you can hear the distance, it is very powerful and sounds great loud.
The introduction is a brief jam in the vein of Les Brers In A Minor that leads into the proper Bert Hollman intro and the band break into Statesboro Blues. Perfect was to begin the concert, it is followed by collaborative End Of The Line, Gregg’s lyric and vocal are superb and for me continues in that Midnight Rider persona. Dickey introduces Blue Sky, Warren is perfect for this song, he does a bit of slide and basic leads and perfectly compliments Dickey’s efforts. There are a precious few live recordings with Duane, for me Warren really makes the song his own. The early highlight is the incredible Nobody Knows, turn this up and just listen, the band is in complete synchronicity, Gregg takes a great solo on the B3, the guitarists play rhythm, the drummers are percussive and the late (great) Allen Woody just flows over the music, damn brings tears to my eyes. Warren is up and levels the place, he brings a not so subtle intensity to place, he challenges the other musicians to keep the pace. Dickey gets the last solo, he starts off slow, he likes to get the juices flowing before he hits his stride, up and down the hills and around the curves and bends followed by Warren and Dickey sparring…14 minutes of musical bliss!
The audience is quiet save for a few members of the crowd shouting out, the others are typically reserved and respectful yet clap along to a great Low Down Dirty Mean, Warren plays some great slide and Allen’s bass is punchy in the mix. The concert features a four song acoustic section, Melissa is first and Warren’s dobro sounds a bit off. Dickey talks about Robert Johnson as an introduction to Come On In My Kitchen, Seven Turns is a song that works well acoustic or electric, love Gregg’s responses in the latter part. From what I understand when Dickey and Warren were writing and arranging the song, Gregg was in the other room and would be singing along and what was unintentional wound up being part of the record. Dickey again gives a nice introduction about Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad being previously done by Woody Guthrie. The first disc is rounded off with Hoochie Coochie Man, originally on Idlewild South, the Willie Dixon song was a chance for Berry Oakley to sing and these newer versions feature Warren handling the singing duties.
The second disc finds the band stretching out, Dickey introduces Kind Of Bird as being named in honor of Jazz great Charlie Parker. Betts and Haynes trade licks like they are trumpet players, the harmonizing is perfect and the song literally swings, this is ass moving, toe tapping, dance around the house music. Gregg Allman writes the blues like no other, Get On With Your Life finds him being done with another succubus woman, and we are richer for it. Great vocals and B3 playing from Gregg, Warren plays a lead that cries from his Les Paul. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed follows, the extended intro is lusty as the band gently maneuvers through like a hand on a body, the tension rising until Betts breaks into the familiar opening chords. Music like this is a conversation with musical notes, its foundation rooted in improvisational greats Coltrane and Davis. Warren takes the first solo followed by a brief yet strong solo from Gregg, then Dickey starts his journey. His leads seem to conjure up Coltrane from his grave, he hits the note intensely and throws homage to Brother Duane in the process and it all melts into the drum solo segment. The set ends with Revival, its chorus rings out “People can you hear it…The songs is in the air…People can you feel it love is everywhere”. The encore is Whipping Post, while the epic 25 minutes are long gone, the band play a tight 13 minute version of the quintessential Allman Brothers anthem, Dickey touches on his famous At The Fillmore East solo, incredible ending to an excellent show. The recording fades with the audience ovation as Little Martha plays over the PA.
The packaging is simple color inserts in a slim line jewel case, the cover is reversible with one being an outtake from the Shades record, the other being similar to the Great Woods DVD. Excellent sound and simple and effective packaging. I am ecstatic with this release, for folks who love An Evening With and Play All Night, this is a great companion piece and a great job by Zion.