45 Years Ago: The Allman Brothers Band Record ‘At Fillmore East’
The third time proved to be the charm for the Allman Brothers Band. While the band had amassed a fiercely-dedicated following while touring the U.S. in support of their 1969 self-titled debut, and its 1970 follow-up, Idlewild South, it was At Fillmore East that brought the Southern rock band their biggest audience yet.
Over the course of two nights - March 12-13, 1971 - the Allman Brothers Band performed a total of four shows at the Fillmore East. According to producer Tom Dowd, the band was "at their absolute peak, [and] the playing just flowed,” evident in every note captured during those historic performances.
Featuring just seven tracks that comprised a double-record set and spanned an astounding 76 minutes, the Allmans lead off the album with four covers, starting with Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues," before moving onto "Done Somebody Wrong," T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday," and "You Don't Love Me," written by Willie Cobbs.
There is no denying that each of the first four performances on At Fillmore East are impeccably tight, but it is on "You Don't Love Me," clocking in at more than 19 minutes, that the thrilling guitar work being laid down by founder Duane Allman and Dickey Betts really starts to shine. Fortunately for listeners, that's just the beginning.
Their outstanding guitar work continues through the instrumental tracks "Hot 'Lanta" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." The dual harmonic guitar leads that kick off the former are spine-tingling good, while many of the solos in the latter song are downright blistering.
Of course, the Allmans were a band, a fact that isn't lost during any point of At Fillmore East. This is something driven home by, among other things, the dual drum solo that marks the approximate mid-point of "Hot 'Lanta." The group ensures that each member has their turn in the spotlight, which makes for a unique, dazzling showcase for each musician.
The climax of At Fillmore East arrives with the album's closing track, "Whipping Post." It is here that the Allman Brothers Band spread their individual and collective wings, jamming their way through a significant portion of the song, but never once getting off track or losing the coherency that runs throughout their performance.
The impact of the record continues to be felt. A recently as 2012, Rolling Stone deemed At Fillmore East to be the 49th greatest album of all time.
A number of different editions of At Fillmore East have been released throughout the last few decades, including a double-disc set, The Fillmore Concerts, in 1992, and 2003's At Fillmore East Deluxe Edition. In 2014, the band's complete Fillmore East performances were released in the exhaustive six-disc box set The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings.
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