THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE 4 CD 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
Plane and simple--if you like the original album--you need to purchase this new edition of this classic album. All the good things in the original album are still here, but magnified several times over. The original album was a real test to see if the ABB would continue to make good, vital, exciting music. The answer was obvious on first listening to the original album. And now we have both studio and live tracks that add substantially to the original albums listening experience. With both Duane Allman and Berry Oakley gone, the core sound of the band shifted towards both Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts. Together they helped push the bands sound into something slightly different.
Nothing much needs to be said about the original album--it stands as a classic. But where things begin to get interesting is in the unheard studio tracks. Listen to a more laid back version of "Wasted Words". The slower tempo and Betts' slide guitar give this a tune a lighter feel. "Trouble No More" sounds more like a finished track than simply a rehearsal version. "One Way Out" is an instrumental--sounding like a backing track--but it has some typically fine Betts' guitar. "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town" combines Allman's jazzy organ and Betts' country inflected blues guitar. Allman gives this song one of his typically good blues vocals. This tune was used by the band to see if pianist Chuck Leavell would fit into the band--check out his playing and hear for yourself. The old Elmore James tune "Done Somebody Wrong" has no real surprises, but starting with this tune, all the rest of the tracks feature Lamar Williams on bass. "Early Morning Blues" is another bluesy outtake that has a nice Allman vocal, and some typically fine playing by the band. Listen to "Jelly Jelly" on the original album--the same tune with different lyrics. "A Minor Jam" quickly fades in and includes the band minus Allman and Betts. Guitarist Les Dudek replaces Betts, and his tone and phrasing is very reminiscent of Betts' style. Chuck Leavell handles the piano chores, and at times sounds like a combination of Allman's style and his own. All through the jam there's a subtle intensity, a build up and release of tension, not only between Dudek and Leavell, but the entire band. The band continues playing until the tune ends fairly abruptly.
But the live set is the real jewel here. Of the sixteen tunes over the two discs,, eleven are previously unreleased. The other five tracks can be heard on the "Dreams" and "Wipe The Windows, Check The Oil, Dollar Gas" sets. This live concert is certainly one of the best from this band. There's no wasted notes, no noodling, just one of the finest bands in music doing what they do best. Betts, who doesn't really like playing slide guitar, steps up and shows his mastery of that style time after time. His playing has a combination of finesse and toughness. Allman is in fine voice, and the rest of the band is tight and alive sounding. Song after song, their ensemble playing is solid, intuitive, and exciting. Everything seems to come together--no matter what the tempo. I was going to pick some highlights, but its ridiculous to try.
Of the unreleased live tracks, listen to this bands "Stormy Monday". Fans familiar with other versions will still find this workhorse tune worth hearing. "Midnight Rider" is another great version of this Gregg Allman composition. The ragged vocals really fit this world weary tune. And listen to Betts' slide work on Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues". "Come And Go Blues" (heard on the original album) sticks close to the original, but has an edgy flow to it. "Jessica" is really nice here. There's a certain feel of this live version different from the album version that makes you wish you were standing in that hall in person. "Les Brers In A Minor", at 25+ minutes, is the longest track here, and for people lucky enough to have heard the ABB live during this period, this will bring back those memories. The playing is tough yet jazz like in spots. Listen to the electric piano work and you'll hear what I mean. This tune shows that the band wasn't tied to a strictly blues sound. There's a nine minute drum solo which then incorporates Williams' bass, and then shifts back to the entire band before ending. This track is definitely a highlight for a number of reasons.
Betts' "Blue Sky" sounds close to the original, but has that ABB sound that gives it something extra. Leavell's piano is just right for this loping countryish tune. The intensity picks up with "Trouble No More". This is prime ABB from this period. The final tune is "Whipping Post" (no surprise) and the band instantly grabs this tune and injects it with a life of its own. Once again Leavell proves his worth on the piano, acting at times like a second lead instrument, and a foil for Betts' guitar work. Everyone is familiar with the Fillmore East version which is so intense it sounds dangerous. On this version the band uses their new configuration to great effect--a "that was then this is now" feel--and it works. All in all, nothing is wasted. The playing is sharp, visceral, and exciting. ABB fans need to hear this live set in its entirety.
Its apparent that great care was taken with the sound. Its crisp and clean, but without any harshness. Individual instruments can clearly be picked out throughout both the studio and live tracks. The packaging is pretty nice. The paperback size holder folds out five times. There's four slots for the discs, but I cringe every time I slide one out--I've since put the discs in double jewel cases. The 31 page attached booklet has an essay on the band and the music, along with individual track information. Except for the cover, the booklet and packaging have some unseen photos of the band in both color and b&w. This is a nice presentation of a landmark album. An album now made even better with all the additional music. Miss this at your own peril. This has been a good week for live releases. Besides this set, "Volume Two" from the Jerry Garcia Band has also been released. So much music, so little time.
on September 24, 2000
I enjoy the music on this album very much. Duane Allman had been the leader of this band until his untimely death. His brother, Gregg was left to pick up the pieces and keep the band going. In addition, Berry Oakley died during the making of this album, appearing on only the first two tracks. Against such adversity the band develops one of the defining albums of 1973. Gregg Allman really does hold his own with superb playing and by contributing two great songs true to the tradition of the Blues. JELLY, JELLY is a soulfull tune influenced by T Bone Walker and the Chicago Blues. It is Richard "Dickey" Betts who really comes up with the goods by stepping forward with a bona-fide hit, RAMBLIN' MAN, and the remainder of the songs as well as playing guitar which now defines Southern Rock. Whether he is playing Dobro in the style of the Mississippi Blues Singers on PONY BOY, or a firey lead on SOUTHBOUND, trading licks with Les Dudek while singing on RAMBLIN' MAN, it is Betts who defines the sound of this Allman Brothers' CD. JESSICA is possibly one of the best travelling songs ever written, and it is Dickey Betts' melodic, distinctly southern guitar playing that will stick in my mind as I fondly remember this CD. Anything else I would write would just be WASTED WORDS. If you are interested in US Southern Rock of the early seventies, or in great guitar music which is based on American Folk Blues, this CD will be interesting to you.
on January 2, 2007
Brothers and Sisters is one of the all-time best records!
I've been a fan since the beginning so I know my ABB. The previous reviews seem to be about the album's content which I won't dispute except to add that brother Richard Betts was an integral part of the band and can't be separated from their legacy. He influenced a generation of guitar players and has contributed some of the most amazing guitar solos in recording history. I just want to be clear that while some may have felt he stood somewhat in the shadow of brother Duane, I believe he certainly stands on his own as a great musician, singer and songwriter responsible for many of the Allman Brothers Band's best tunes and most memorable guitar lines.
What I mainly want to comment on here is the Remastered version of Brothers and Sisters. I was sorely disappointed in the sound quality as compared to the record album. Unfortunately, they "cleaned it up" to the detriment of the music. Here are the specific problems I spotted. The worst offense is the amount of emphasis inflicted on the vocals: it makes brother Gregg's vocal too bright and clean sounding (when he had probably just smoked an entire pack of cigs prior to cutting each track to get some more gravel in his voice as Cat Stevens used to do), and the same vocal-tinkering makes Dickey sound like a 12 year old boy, unlike the LP which is an accurate recording of how their voices sounded.
The other problems I have with this Remaster is the snare drum and cymbals are also sonically enhanced to the point of causing ear fatigue ... it stresses me out, man! The LP was mellower AND you could hear the tambourine. Also I miss the beautiful rumble of Chuck Leavell's honkytonk piano ... now all sparkly clean (and sounding more like a toy) on this Remaster. Finally, some of the rhythm guitars on this CD Remaster sound a bit Disco for my taste (with that bright top end): the LP guitars were perfect, however. Shocking difference.
Apparently Johnny Sandlin is a darn good record producer and I think he should have been consulted for this Remaster! It reminds me of the poor remastering job done on another great, early '70s album, Relayer, by YES. Like Brothers and Sisters, they turned an album I was used to listening to from the '70s into a '90s-sounding album. Why? You could hear everything fine the way it was ... unless your ears don't work anymore. These great albums are from their time and they should be celebrated as such. This particular era was the best for music in my opinion, it had a particular sound, and there is no disgrace in that whatsoever. Mastering engineers need to learn about preserving "the vibe" of an album instead of always trying to "correct" things that don't need correcting! "Flat" sound always gives the proper balance, unless the whole point of the reissue is to put a different spin on the music. Then it should be marketed as such. Maybe the ABB can revisit this mastering process for the digital 24-bit release and create an Ultimate Version before the master tapes completely lose their dynamics. Please consider restoring the album's vibe, guys. It deserves as much.
But for the surface noise, I'm happy with the LP version, though I may still have to track down a pre-Remastered edition of this great album for archival. The casual or new listener may not mind the sonic "enhancements" offered in the Remastered version, especially if it is bound for a sound-crusher like an iPod, but those who are already familiar with this album might be a bit surprised with the new take on things. I would like to dedicate this review to brother Berry Oakley ... it's wonderful to hear him one last time.
Update: I managed to find a Gold Disc and it sounded righteous. There is no comparison. Too bad they are so hard to find (and so expensive) because that's THE ONE.
on June 25, 2013
The timing is perfect for the 40th anniversary release of the Allman Brother's album "Brothers And Sisters". Rounder Record's retrospective of Duane Allman has been a huge success, Gregg Allman's bio "My Cross To Bear" has gotten rave reviews, as well as his latest solo outing "Low Country Blues". With "Brothers And Sisters", we can revisit the many contributions of Dickie Betts-the man who truly stepped up after the deaths of Duane and bassist Berry Oakley.
For a short time in late 1971-early 1972, the brothers carried on as a five piece band after Duane's death. Hiring another guitarist to replace Duane was out of the question, so Alabama pianist Chuck Leavell was brought on board. This was a gamble, but a brilliant move. Betts carried the burden as the only guitarist in a band heralded for its twin guitar attack. Chuck's piano gave the band a jazzier direction and harmonized with Bett's lead lines beautifully.
The brothers were recording Brothers And Sisters" when tragedy again struck-Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle crash similar to Duane's on November 11, 1972. Again the band moved forward, recruiting Lamar Williams, an old friend of drummer Jaimoe who impressed everyone during his audition.
"Brothers And Sisters" was recorded chronologically-"Wasted Words" and "Ramblin' Man" are the only two tracks from the original release to feature Oakley. On the remastered edition, the bass is heard to much greater advantage. Although "Brothers And Sisters" is far and away the best selling of the Brother's albums, quite a few listeners found the original mix to be "muddy". The improvement is evident on Bett's compositions "Southbound" and the instrumental "Jessica", while the tandem drumming of Jaimoe and Butch Trucks stands out in "Come And Go Blues" and "Southbound".
The previously unreleased tracks have some real surprises-"Southbound" is an instrumental outtake featuring the nimble piano of Leavell. On this track, one really appreciates the seldom recognized beauty of Bett's rhythm playing. "One Way Out" is an instrumental rehearsal where Oakley's bass takes off as a lead instrument. "Double Cross" is a Gregg Allman outtake which would wind up a year later on "The Gregg Allman Tour" double LP.
"A Minor Jam" is just that-the band jams in minor key. What makes this cut interesting is the guitar of Les Dudek, studio guitarist who plays behind Betts on "Ramblin' Man" and "Jessica". He sounds remarkably like Betts, and his call and response with Leavell is engaging. Chuck would pursue this sound a few years down the road with Sea Level.
The third and fourth discs were recorded at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom on September 26, 1973, and broadcast on KSAN, the city's album oriented radio station. The band features several cuts from the just released "Brothers And Sisters", including "Wasted Words", "Ramblin' Man", "Come And Go Blues" and "Southbound". The Brothers have played Willie Cobb's' "You Don't Love Me" many times over the years, usually incorporating another song into the performance; here they segue into the traditional "Amazing Grace". Without taking a breath, Betts leads the band into "Les Bres in A Minor", another Betts instrumental from "Eat A Peach".
It's hard to imagine "Blue Sky" with only one guitarist, but Betts pulls it off with the great piano of Leavell and Gregg's organ and harmonizing vocals. "Trouble No More" is as strong as the version on "Fillmore East", and the obligatory "Whipping Post"retains its dark flavor with the help of William's foreboding bass.
Of the seven original tracks on "Brothers And Sisters", four were penned by Betts; he also wrote "Les Bres" and "Blue Sky". Hopefully, his contributions will be appreciated with this 40th anniversary set. Sadly, Lamar Williams passed from lung cancer in 1981 (thought to be from Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam), but the other musicians on this album can be proud of the music they made-and continue to make. Bouquets for the living.
on June 27, 2013
First of all, I just found out about this new set yesterday. I ordered it here and decided to try out the Prime membership trial with free two-day shipping. It came in ONE day, today, just an hour and a half ago! Man I popped the live disc #4 into the player and MAN what a sound! Incredible mix! Sounds even better than Fillmore East! And what a beautiful package the whole thing comes in, with pictures and booklet. Very well done! It was a great album when I first bought it 40 years ago. Forty? Can that be possible? Indeed, it was right after I graduated from high school, maybe even that same week in June, 1973. Man, we Allman Brothers fans were still hurting from the loss of Duane when Berry got killed on HIS motorcycle during the recording of this album. How did the Brothers manage to go on and create this masterpiece after that? Incredible, but they did. And then they went on tour with new members Chuck and Lamar, and the power and beauty of that tour is captured perfectly on these bonus live CDs. The Brothers reinvented themselves with this album, and it became their biggest-seller ever. Those guys had a lot of soul to be able to pull this off, I'm telling you! Chuck Leavell is incredible here; his acoustic piano works perfectly alongside Dickie's guitar. And Lamar Williams clicked perfectly in the bass spot that Brother Berry left behind. This version of the Allman Brothers was just as good as the original, in its own way. Of course nobody or nothing could ever replace Duane Allman, and indeed they never even tried. By some mark of genius they chose a whole new direction with a piano player instead of another guitarist. And boy did it work! This great album, both studio and live, is testament to that. Though the band has changed and evolved over the years, including the current long-running edition featuring that original two-guitar sound made famous by the original lineup, they were like this only for a little while, so that makes this wonderful set of CDs all the more priceless. THIS was The Allman Brothers! Fantastic package, a must-buy for fans who remember this era so well like I do. Indeed, I only saw the band with this lineup, twice, in 1973. Never saw Duane or Berry, never saw any of the versions to follow this one. Saw them play in front of 40,000 people at old RFK Stadium in DC with The Grateful Dead. Great show, great musicians. So glad this great album has finally been re-mastered and given this new life. Bliss!
on March 12, 2006
1973's BROTHERS AND SISTERS was the first full-length studio album from the Allman Brothers Band in nearly three years, during which time the band had lost both guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley, who were replaced as it were by pianist Chuck Leavell and Lamar Williams. Surviving Duane's death had been nothing short of miraculous; surviving Berry's, without a major shift in the group's sound and sensibilities, proved impossible.
For this reason, as well as the remaining bandmembers' ongoing slide into the personal and chemical excesses which have always made the big time what it is, BROTHERS AND SISTERS presents a largely revamped ABB, with songwriting replacing jamming as the chief priority and a crisper, more commercial attitude than that of any previous Allmans release coloring the results. Guitarist Dickey Betts, having already proven himself capable of singlehandedly tackling the string-strangling front line he'd once so famously shared with Duane, here also takes the lion's share of composing credits; it is clearly his vision which predominates on this, the ABB's last genuinely great LP.
The first two tracks on BROTHERS AND SISTERS were the last to feature Berry Oakley, and the tragedy of his sudden exit is underscored by the fact that one of them, Dickey's country-rock anthem "Ramblin' Man," would become the band's only major hit single. It's a phenomenal piece of work, to be sure, with stinging guitar work from Dickey and guest strummer Les Dudek and a made-for-radio chorus which suggests that the Brothers could still go anywhere and do anything if it involved making music. Gregg Allman's opener, "Wasted Words," is a bit too similar in both title and mood to EAT A PEACH's "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," but that hardly makes it bad.
As for the post-Berry cuts, Gregg scores winners with both the soulful, lovesick "Come and Go Blues" and the updated Ray Charlesish "Jelly Jelly," while Dickey contributes "Southbound" - a tune so much in Gregg's vein that he gives Gregg the vocal - and a bright instrumental ("Jessica") which, inevitably, would be greatly expanded upon in concert over the years. "Pony Boy," the closer, a down-home acoustic number on which Gregg doesn't even play, is one of the album's strongest numbers, mixing clever and humorous lyrics with a flawless instrumental track which must have left listeners at the time wondering whether the next release from this group would be credited to the Allman/Betts Band.
It wasn't, of course, though perhaps it should have been. In any case, more than three decades later BROTHERS AND SISTERS stands as the right bookend on the ABB's top shelf of recordings, posthumous live releases by the original sextet excepted of course. A fully worthy addition to the catalogue, nevertheless; Duane and Berry would have been proud.
on July 25, 2013
"Hittin' the Note" magazine had a big article about this set before it came out. I already pre-ordered it so the mag helped fuel the fire of anticipation. I was not disappointed to say the least. The outtakes and rehearsal cd was rather dull, almost like going thru the motions. That's the only somewhat negative to a great, historical set. But to hear it gives a listener a sense of the struggles the band was going thru . As for the live stuff- oh, my word! Sometimes I personally do not care for Greg Allman's singing when he sounds "lazy" or "tired" or worst. Not on this stuff!! He sounds GREAT! Singing like he means it-oh yea! Lamar Williams plays "bottomy" bass, not in the upper registers yet so inventive. The interplay between Dickie Betts and Chuck Leavell makes it a way different band than before, obviously. A great remix for the original album of "Brothers & Sisters" brings out a lot. The Allman Brothers live, both on cd or seeing them in person,is what musicians should strive for.This cd set is another example of why they deserve their reputation of being one of the best acts in music history.
on July 21, 2013
I'm listening to Disk 2 again (A Minor Jam) as I write this review. I'm not going to repeat what the positive reviewers have said already. What they said. I'm just happy to add this edition to my ABB library. I had no qualms about ordering the Super Deluxe Brothers and Sisters without waiting for a review (just like I did when purchasing Fillmore East February, 1970) and, after listening to it several times, I have no regrets about purchasing this product. I don't expect perfection, I just like listening to the ABB. It's a great feeling to think that in the 21st century, I still get to hear ABB tracks that I haven't heard before (I really can't be bothered with the bootlegs). And I think this super deluxe version of Brothers and Sisters is just bloody marvelous.
on August 26, 2013
This is a review of the new Deluxe remastered CD, Brothers and Sisters, by the Allman Brothers Band. The band had just lost Barry Oakley, who does play on the first two tracks, "Wasted Words" and "Ramblin' Man". This is a CD that starts a change in the style of this group of brothers, with the addition of Chuck Leavell and Lamar Williams who add a bit of a jazz influence to the southern rock sound, plus Dicky Betts big hit "Ramblin' Man" which is a country sounding influence. Leavell on piano takes the place of another lead guitar and can he play.
This is a great album, I remember buying it in 1973 and it sounded great on my stereo. I had never had this recording on CD. I bought the new Deluxe remastered version, which just came out. After I listened to it ,I was happy to have it, hearing the songs, but it sounded a bit thin without a lot of bottom end. It was mastered by Seth Foster at Sterling Sound in New York City. I found an older Capricorn version, picked it out of the 4.50 bin ,later that day, I threw it in my stereo and bam, it sounded just like what I remembered, Dickey Betts' vocals were louder in the mix, it just opened up, like the new version feels like there is a blanket over my speakers, even though it is louder. The older CD was mastered by Suhr Gur @ Polygram Records.
on February 9, 2008
I love this album. Any band that suffered the losses that the Allman Brothers did would have folded, and those that didn't would have come out with a product that sounded familiar but was clearly inferior and was nothing more than a desperate effort to hang on to the money making name brand. Not only did they create something genuine,authentic and toe-tapping, they delivered something that would still sound fresh 35 years later. "Rambling Man" got a lot of air time when it was first released. You would hear it everywhere: in your car; on the beach; at barbeques and picnics; in between classes --and no one got sick of it. Every song is a gem. They also had the foresight to dump the 22 minutes jams. Get this cd, pop open your favorite beverage and enjoy it. I hate to sound like some old guy but when we old guys say THEY DON'T MAKE MUSIC LIKE THEY USED TO this is a prime example of what we are talking about.