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4.8 out of 5 stars
Beginnings [Remastered]
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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2003
Beginnings is the first two Allman Brothers Band albums, their self-titled debut and Idlewild South on one disc. This collection is a masterpiece, not aging one moment since its release. Several of the tracks here are still album rock standards. It also shows the band's incredible diversity from the classic blues of their first album to their more acoustic and jazz roots on Idlewild South.

The first half of the disc begins with the jazzy instrumental "Don't Want You No More" featuring an excellent organ solo from Gregg Allman and a very tasty guitar solo from Duane Allman before flowing into the slow blues of "It's Not My Cross To Bear." Gregg's vocals are fantastic, already possessing one of the best blues voices ever, which is amazing considering he was just 21 when they recorded this album. This is clearly one of his best collections of songs as his compositions "Dreams" and "Whipping Post" have become blues classics with the latter taken to new heights on their live album At Fillmore East. The other tracks, "Every Hungry Woman", the percussion heavy "Black Hearted Woman", and their killer version of Muddy Waters' "Trouble No More" are all fantastic. The fact that they still play every one of these songs live attest to the excellent material here.

The second half of the disc is best known as the emergence of guitarist Dickey Betts as a composer. His two contributions are among his best work. "Revival" with its memorable melody and its hippie lyrics has become one of their most popular songs. The jazz instrumental "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" is perhaps the best instrumental track released in modern rock music. This track, written as a tribute to Miles Davis, also lead to Betts contributing several other instrumental tracks in their career such as "Jessica." The most popular track here is Gregg Allman's acoustic "Midnight Rider", which would become his biggest solo hit and has remained as one of their most enduring tracks. "Leave My Blues At Home" and their version of "Hoochie Coochie Man", sung by bassist Berry Oakley, are among their best blues tracks. The lesser known ballad "Please Call Home" and "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" are also excellent tracks. The slide guitar playing of Duane Allman is among the best ever recorded and the aggressive drumming duo of Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson, now known as Jaimoe, only add to the intensity of this stunning collection. Highly recommended to all fans of blues and classic rock.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2009
I purchased this in the hopes that these remastered versions would yield a significant sonic improvement over the poor quality earlier versions of the first two ABB albums on CD that I already owned.

What I wasn't expecting was that the contents of the first album have been remixed here. (Idlewild South does not appear to have been remixed.) The albums themselves are both five stars in my book. However, I must "ding" this release at least one star for being a remix but not advertised as such.

Among the differences between the original "ABB mix" and the "Beginnings mix" are:
--Intro to "Every Hungry Woman": Original mix has the guitar in the left channel and a faint hi-hat pedal stomp counting out the beat in the right. The remix has the guitar more or less centered, and the hi-hat deleted.
--End of "Whipping Post" fades out in the remix, as opposed to a "cold" end in the original mix. The fade out cuts off the snare drum shots that close out the original mix.
--On several tracks, bass guitar has been moved from center to the left channel and increased substantially. This mimics the approach used on several "Idlewild South" tracks, suggesting that this remix may have been an attempt to apply the "Idlewild South" mixing strategy and lessons learned to the "ABB" session tapes.
--On several tracks, especially where two lead guitar parts play note-for-note harmonies, the positions of the two guitars (one panned 100% left, the other panned 100% right) have been reversed in the remix, while drums and percussion have their positions unchanged (e.g maraccas panned 100% left).
--Vocals in the remix tend to seem a bit "cleaner" and more forward as opposed to the original mix. I haven't yet determined whether this is simply a volume issue, or whether the reverb was cut back.

As a personal preference, I tend to avoid remixes. I view recordings as a document of the times in which they were originally produced. The Allman Brothers Band still had a lot to learn when the were cutting ABB. Given the timing of the release of Beginnings (sometime in 1973), after the deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley in late 1971 and late 1972 respectively, it's quite likely that the remixes took place after one, if not both, of their deaths.

How would this bit of information affect your buying decision? If you're an ABB completist and want to learn more about the music by studying the differences between the remix and the original mix, or don't care about the remix and are looking for the best value, then pick up this package and you won't be disappointed. The vocals and bass are for the most part clearer than in the original mix. But if you do care whether or not you're listening to mixes that were made before the deaths of Allman and Oakley, you'll need to buy the first album individually. Since "Idlewild South" does not appear to have been remixed here, you might consider purchasing both "Beginnings" and the first CD if you want both mixes of the first album plus "Idlewild South."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2000
The first seven songs are sheer ecstasy, representing an unbroken string of excellence in every note. "Dreams" probably saved my life, gave me the strength to cope with depression. It's long enough to never get airplay, so most of the listening world has never even heard it. Hell, every one of these songs is vastly superior to the standards the DJ's trot out whenever it's time for them to play an Allmans tune. "Beginnings" is on my list of 50 essential rock and roll albums. You should own it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2003
"Don't Want You No More" starts out with the searing, up-front statement that would characterize the band's future work. The twin guitar leads roar out a dramatic opening, and are followed by blazing organ, crashing drum/cymbals. Then it's Duane's turn: he steps up to belt out a dynamic riff. The band regroups again for another pass at the opening theme, Dickey then hammers a reply to Duane, and everyone simmers down into "It's Not My Cross to Bear." Gregg's vocals are steamed raw, and his torment and despair are left standing bare and alone as Duane wraps another solo around the framework of Gregg's vocals.
"Black Hearted Woman" rocks along with Gregg's angry lyrics and guitar solos that skip boisterously ahead of the rest of the band. "Trouble No More," their studio version of Muddy Waters's song, shuffles and hesitates while Duane shows his slide guitar call-and-reply style against Gregg's vocals. "Every Hungry Woman" opens with a gust of guitar and B-3 Hammond organ layering the track, and Gregg's accusing comments and voice are painted with cynicism and contempt.
"Dreams" is one of the band's masterpieces, as Duane mixes slide and lead guitar. The drummers coil and release with refrained shots of snare drum and cymbal rides, and Gregg's organ takes the song to a hazy, etheric state. His grievous, intense singing provides the setting for Duane's soaring, spiraling solo. Skydog's mid-way switch to bottleneck lifts the piece right out of the stratosphere, and sets up the infamous, earth-shattering "Whipping Post." Berry starts off with dark and frightening warfare bass lines, the band reaches a frenzy behind Gregg's confrontation of his misery, and the guitars ring out their defiance. Duane and Dickey embrace the pain with their solos, and the band walks on coals to a scorching crescendo. Gregg has never sounded more wretched in his plight when he sings the chorus line.
"Revival," written by Dickey Betts, shows a hippie, peace-and-love side of the band, with cheerful acoustic guitar and family vocals helping underscore the country sound of twin lead guitars and upbeat measure. "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" offers stinging slide by Duane, highlighted by octave sweeps as he rides up the fretboard on his solo. Special guest Thom Doucette also fills in handsomely with harmonica whoops. "Midnight Rider" is Gregg's offering of a country-rock ballad, with dusty trails fading in the sunset. "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," Dickey's instrumental wizardy, features a panoramic, Carribean-like intro, and a race course workout for both guitar solos. Berry paints "Hoochie Coochie Man" with voodoo vocals and threats, and Duane and Dickey pick the flesh off the bones with their solos. Everything is forgiven in Gregg's mind as he laments on piano during "Please Call Home," and Duane plays his heart out beside him, sadly reflecting on his brother's pleas for reconciliation. James Brown would be pleased with "Leave My Blues At Home," a scruffy, bumpy shuffle.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2000
While leaving it to the critics and hardcore fans to decide, and praise the virtues of Skydog and the remaining freres Allman, here's a tip you can use. When listening to the original CD issue of "Beginnings," I'd noticed a distinct difference in fidelity on the disc when "Allman Brothers Band" ended and "Idlewild South" began. When the remasters debuted, I purchased the two individual CD's. They're basically the same as this release, except for the artwork. When I played them back-to-back, doggone if the same difference in sound quality wasn't still there on the remaster of "Idlewild South!" Then, on a hunch, I purchased "Beginnings," and guess what? They've equalized the two releases for a consistent sound throughout! Enjoy, and benefit, from the experience of a fellow fan.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
I just keep running into more and more incredible music as I continue to dig deeper. In trying to learn more about blues music and great blues guitarrists, I ran into Duane Allman, and this album by the Allman Brothers Band, which combines the music from their two first works. What can I say about it? Let me just put it from a perspective of a newbie into Blues and Southern Rock. This band is unbelievable. The soul they pour into each track is just impossible to describe. Two tracks, as a reference: "It's not my cross to bear" and "Midnight Rider" are so touching that every time I hear tham I am transported. Though lacking some of those 15-20 minute long solos (grab the live "Fillmore..." album for some of that), this combo album reminds of the best British Blues of the sixties (Yardbirds, Cream, Clapton, Beck, Page).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2006
"Twofers" are generally a mixed blessing: twice the music, but without the holistic integrity - or often the packaging - of the original individual releases. BEGINNINGS, which pairs the Allman Brothers' first two LPS (1969's THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND and 1970's IDLEWILD SOUTH) is a rare and wonderful exception. First released only a couple of years after IDLEWILD SOUTH, BEGINNINGS was actually one of the earliest twofers, and it makes sense not only from a programming point of view (as neither of the albums clocks in at much over half an hour), but from an aesthetic one as well. Where THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND is firmly centered around driving blues and rock tunes with intriguingly dreamy touches (Duane Allman's spectral slide guitar intro to "Every Hungry Woman"; the fuzz-toned twin leads on "Dreams"; "Whipping Post"'s dizzying climax), IDLEWILD SOUTH shows the band developing as both songwriters and players in varied and unpredictable ways. The gospel choral shout of "Revival" sits in stark contrast to the haunting and beautiful arrangement of "Midnight Rider" (probably the band's strongest studio track), the extended jazz workout of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and the moving, powerfully sung lost-love tale "Please Call Home." Many of these tracks would be given a far lengthier and more effective treatment on AT FILLMORE EAST and other subsequent live albums; but they're still essential listening in their original form, and having twice as much to listen to is at least twice as good in this case.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2006
This CD contains Both "The Allman Brothers Band" and "Idlewild South", Their first two albums. "The Allman Brothers Band" is a great Blues Based Album. It Has a nice flow from song to song. "Idlewild South" is a more jazz-based album that really brings out the best in Guitarist/Songwriter/Singer Dickey Betts. these two albums were made before Duane Allman died, so i recomend this because you can hear the best of Duane Allman before he dies.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The record companies must be throwing away millions since they are practically giving us an album for free. And aren't we lucky too, they both happen to be great. All the songs on this collection are classics in their own way. Every song on "The Allman Brothers Band" (tracks 1-7) is a hard hitting blues gem. Highlights include, "Every Hungry Woman", "Black Hearted Woman", "Trouble No More", "Dreams" (a slide guitar masterpeice), and of course "Whipping Post". I think the best part of this whole album is to hear Greg Allman's primal howl after "Don't Want You No More" fades into "It's Not My Cross to Bear"."Idlewood South" is a great album too, but is very different. In this album, the Allmans still play the blues, but they also explore "Southern Rock" and country, as we see in "Midnight Rider". "Elizabeth Reed" is one of the best guitar and instrumental peices ever. It does not recieve half as much credit as it should. And of course, "Hoochie Coohie Man" is a great blues tune. Unfortunately, it's rare to find a two album compilation ever. Lucky for those who have discovered the Allmans, they chose to pair these two together. Also check out "Live at Fillmore West", "Eat a Peach" and "Brothers and Sisters" <---the album w/out the great Duane =-(
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 1999
Finally, a good deal, two albums on one disc for a decent price. And adding to it, both the albums are incredible. I have about 150 cd's and and this happens to be one of my favorites of all time... Songs you might be missing out on: The emotional Please Call Home, and all the raunchy bluesy classics of the first lp that are missed on the greatest hits cd such as Black Hearted Woman, Not My Cross, Every Hungry Woman, etcetra...
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