Monday, 13 March 2017

"Brothers And Sisters: Deluxe Edition" by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND (July 2013 '40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition' 2CD Reissue – Seth Foster Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…The Band Is Jumping And So Am I…"

The Allman Brothers Band fifth album was an American No. 1 - so a decent aural brush-up of 1973's "Brothers And Sisters" has long been on the cards. And you have to say that Universal's 40th Anniversary celebration does that huge fan favourite a proper solid. 

Typically (and just like buses) this 2013 sonic overhaul comes at cash-strapped music lovers in three forms - a 2CD Deluxe Edition (reviewed) - a 4-Disc Super Deluxe Edition and even a good old Vinyl reissue. Here are the details for the Rambln' Southbound Man...

UK released July 2013 - "Brothers And Sisters: Deluxe Edition" by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND on Mercury/Universal 3728804 (Barcode 602537288045) is a 2CD '40th Anniversary' Reissue and Remaster that breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (38:23 minutes):
1. Wasted Words [Side 1]
2. Ramblin' Man
3. Come And Go Blues
4. Jelly Jelly
5. Southbound [Side 2]
6. Jessica
7. Pony Boy
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 5th album "Brothers And Sisters" - released August 1973 in the USA on Capricorn CP 0111 and September 1973 in the UK on Capricorn 2429 102 (reissued shortly after onto Capricorn K 47507).

Disc 2 - REHEARSALS, JAMS and OUTTAKES (66:16 minutes):
1. Wasted Words (3 Dec 1972 Rehearsal) 5:06 minutes
2. Trouble No More (Oct/Nov 1972 Rehearsal - Muddy Waters cover) 3:58 minutes
3. Southbound (Instrumental Outtake, Recorded 8 Nov 1972) 5:56 minutes
4. One Way Out (Rehearsal) 5:38 minutes
5. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of The Town (Rehearsal) 11:14 minutes
6. Done Somebody Wrong (3 Dec 1972 Rehearsal) 3:50 minutes
7. Double Cross (Outtake - Recorded 13 May 1973) 4:36 minutes
8. Early Morning Blues (Outtake - Recorded 27 May 1973) 9:27 minutes
9. A Minor Jam (Studio Jam - Recorded 8 March 1973) 16:30 minutes
Tracks 1 to 9 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

Note: There is also a 4CD American SUPER DELUXE EDITION of "Brothers And Sisters" on Mercury/Universal B0018079-02 (Barcode 602537288076) that offers 2 further 2CDs (10 tracks on Disc 3 and 7 on Disc 4). Both feature a Previously Unreleased Concert - "Live At Winterland, 26 September 1973". This has unfortunately garnished something of a price tag since its release...

The 3-way foldout card digipak has one of those ugly stick-on DE bandanas unceremoniously taped onto the bottom of the outer digipak instead of the outer title plastic slipcase of old. Those slipcases were/are awkward to get the discs out of - but I actually kind of miss them now. Once opened the inside has a live photo of the band spread across all three flaps (under both see-through plastic trays) and the 24-page booklet is a chunky and colourful affair with excellent SCOTT SCHINDER liner notes. Butch Truck's son Vaylor is on the front of the booklet and Berry Oakley's daughter Brittany is on the back page - as they were on the front and rear of the original gatefold vinyl LP sleeve in 1973. There's the famous family photo gracing the centerspread and live shots of the band in action and detailed reissue credits on the last four pages. But the big news is a massive upgrade in sound. ANDY SKUROW and ELIOT KISSELEFF did the Tape Research and Transfers (respectively) and SETH FOSTER (a very experienced Universal engineer) did the mastering - and what a bang-up job they've done. Everything to my ears is better - vocals, guitars, but especially the Rhythm Section - clear and full of presence.

The album opens with Gregg Allman's "Wasted Words" which now has huge punch - Betts slide guitar tight with the vocals. Perennial rave "Ramblin' Man" has the keyboards punching above its former weight while that dual guitar finish sounds brill. Chuck Leavell's fab piano licks on "Come And Go Blues" now get a bit of extra oomph - but they properly explode out of the speakers on the Side 1 Bluesy finisher "Jelly Jelly". Side 2 opens with another Dicky Betts original "Southbound" where the cohesion of the guitars, piano and especially the funkily tight rhythm section blast into your living room. New Bassist Lamar Williams had only finished auditions for the band and along with Drummer Jaimoe they absolutely rock this track. We then an instrumental that has since gone into history - up there with "Albatross" and "Cavatina" in its impact - the wonderful "Jessica" in its full seven and half minutes glory (where would "Top Gear" be without it). With Betts given full Lead Guitar reign, Les Dudek on Acoustic and Gregg Allman on Organ - that Leavell solo part still put chills up me - and now sounding utterly brilliant. "Brothers And Sisters" ends on "Pony Boy" with Betts on his Dobro sounding like he's in your living room - beautifully done and easy to see why it's a concert fave still (lyrics from it title this review).

I had expected Disc 2 to be workmanlike - it s not - it rocks. Because the rehearsals are from their most volatile, sad and yet strangely productive period - to my ears the tracks bristle with looseness and discovery and a band wanting to matter and cope. The "Southbound" instrumental is a case in point - the band boogieing through the song like it was the most natural thing in the world (which for them it was). The cover of Muddy Waters' old Chess classic "Trouble No More" is just brilliant - while a real find is "Early Morning Blues" - the song replaced by "Jelly Jelly" on the album. Using the same back beat - you get mournful Rock Blues for nine and half great minutes ("What goes on in your worried and mixed up mind..."). The other cool outtake is "Double Cross" - a Lynyrd Skynyrd Boogie Shuffle circa "Nuthin' Fancy". Admittedly the near seventeen minutes of "A Minor Jam" will test the patience of newcomers - but I can't help think that die-hards will secretly chew up every indulgent guitar/piano jamming minute of it.

So there you it - a winner made better. Five weeks at Number 1 and their first platter to go Platinum - it's easy to hear why "Brothers And Sisters" endures all these years after. And I still wonder what that child is looking at in those leaves below his feet...a plectrum maybe...a discarded hairnet...

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