Allman Brothers Band: Fillmore West ‘71
Few fans know that when the Allman Brothers Band recorded At Fillmore East— considered by many to be the greatest live rock album ever released—during the weekend of March 12-13, 1971, they were not the headlining band. The Georgians were billed below Johnny Winter and Elvin Bishop Group. The same was the case several weeks earlier, when they’d touched down at promoter Bill Graham’s San Francisco home, the Fillmore West, where the Allmans were opening for local favorites Hot Tuna. Those ABB sets were also recorded but, until now, there has never been an official release. Fillmore West ‘71 captures the shows of Jan. 29-31, 1971, serving as the perfect companion piece to the East Coast classic. Featuring the iconic roster of guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley, drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe and lead vocalist/organist Gregg Allman all onboard, the lineup was identical to the later shows, and the contents of the sets were quite familiar. What that means, besides uniformly stellar performances, is a bit of repetition: In those days, the band rarely varied the sequencing, so there are three different takes of ABB standards like the show-opening “Statesboro Blues” and staples such as “You Don’t Love Me” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” And, of course, “Whipping Post,” which closes each show, growing to nearly 21 minutes by the third night. The four-disc collection also includes a 45-minute bonus track of “Mountain Jam” from a New Orleans show between the two Fillmores. All told, these guys were clearly not going to be second-billed much longer, though Duane would die that October.