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I reviewed "Where it all begins" the 1994 release from The Allman Brothers Band a while ago after getting into them seriously after hearing their newer material with the obvious influence of Government Mule. My interest also comes from a couple of documentaries about the band and from Gregg Allman's TV performances of songs from his solo album "Low country blues" in 2011. I would probably say that I prefer the more up to date stuff from the band which now includes Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, Trucks is the son of the drummer Butch Trucks but the early work is what certainly brought me to become a real fan of the band.
**Brothers & Sisters**
This was a tough album to make, the first Allman Brothers Band studio album recorded after the deaths of Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley appeared on the first two tracks, He was replaced by Lamar Williams after his death. Oakley died in a motorcycle accident just three blocks from where Duane Allman had died the previous year. Many bands would not have been able to comeback from such tragic deaths but despite losing his brother, Gregg Allman took the band forward with the help of the newcomers. Brothers & Sisters is the fifth studio album from The Allman Brothers Band
1.) Wasted Words
This is a catchy opener with an early Lynyrd Skynyrd sound, no suprise as they were around at the same time and were both pioneers in the Southern Rock genre. The track is the first of the two songs which feature Berry Oakley before his death during the recording process. There are some excellent licks from guitarist Dickey Betts and this is a real toe tapper of a track with some very catchy melodies and Gregg Allman's vocals flow rather well. It's a good start to the album.
2.) Ramblin' Man
Another catchy track, this time with some smooth vocal harmonies and shows a different sound to the band. Dickey Betts is on vocals for the track and they are well judged and the backing vocals are light and harmonious. I like the way the song progresses and there are some nice and relaxed guitar tones which take the track to a higher level. This song shows that they got a very good replacement in for Duane Allman after his tragic death. This is the second and last track that they recorded for the album with Berry Oakley as bassist.
3.) Come And Go Blues
This is a Bluesy track with some excellent piano work from Chuck Leavell as he shows himself to be the Billy Powell of the Allman Brothers Band. This song is one of two from the album that was written solely by Gregg Allman. The other being the opener "Wasted words". There's some nice guitar work from both Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman and this song is a decent all round effort. There's some funky licks there and this is a strong track which has a good ending sequence.
4.) Jelly Jelly
Perhaps the most out and out Blues track on the album, This is a lovely ballad with some heartfelt vocals from Allman. It's one of the stand out tracks from the album and has some excellent organ, piano and guitar work in particular. There's one particular guitar solo towards the end that just tops things off wonderfully well and raises the overall quality of the track. Dickey Betts really lets loose and shows what he can do proving himself to be a great replacement for Duane Allman.
Another of the Blues tracks here, It's a track which has a very catchy feel and the guitar work brings the Bluesy feel. There's some great piano work and an impressive pace about it. There are some elements of funk there too with some catchy bass hooks. Dickey Betts shows his guitar ability again with some great licks and a very fine solo which tops things off well.
Opening with an acoustic feel this track soon turns into a very enjoyable southern rock track which is very recognisable for viewers of Top Gear. The track was named after Jessica Betts. The Daughter of guitarist Dickey Betts. There's some excellent guitar work from Betts and Allman and the backing of the drums and piano in particular is impressive. I love the way the track builds then slows then builds again. There's some excellent piano work in the middle and the guitar just tops things off. "Jessica" is an instrumental.
7.) Pony Boy
This is a nice closer for the album, In those days a seven track album was rather common. This is a nice slide guitar based track. Dickey Betts provides vocals for this track which quickly moves from a southern blues style to a more Bluegrass sound. Whilst it's not the best track on the album it's a nice closer and gives an example of the album. The track picks up pace towards the end where there's a nice bluegrass guitar part which is joined by the piano and drums. Good stuff.
After the deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, Brothers & Sisters could have easily been a forgettable album but it was the love for Music and the astute replacements that kept the band going and both Dickey Betts and Lamar Williams helped make the album a very good one. They kept the Allman Brothers sound intact whilst widening it in some ways. Despite the bands struggles following on from the album, Brothers & Sisters might well be one of the most important albums in the whole existence of the band.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Wasted Words
2 Ramblin' Man
3 Come And Go Blues
4 Jelly Jelly
7 Pony Boy