on May 16, 2002
Boxed sets such as this typically are a mixture of "Greatest Hits" material with enough unreleased material to hook die-hard fans into going ahead and spending money. "Dreams" is no exception to this, but it is better organized than most boxed sets. Die hards who already own the albums will get a lot of duplicate material, but roughly a third of it is unreleased and/or difficult to find. Those interested in discovering the group are in for a real treat! This boxed set is the perfect introduction.
Disc one is mostly cuts from the Pre-ABB groups The Allman Joys, Hour Glass, The 31st of February, and The Second Coming. When I saw the track listings after buying the set, I was initially disappointed by this, as I have little interest in being an Allman's "completist." However, I was relieved that all of the early cuts are at least pretty good, and at times, sublime! You hear a clear progression from psychedelic cover band to blues virtuosos to jazz/rock/country fusion. The second half of the disc is downright excellent.
Discs two and three are, by and large, greatest hits from the ABB golden era. If you don't already have a copy of the amazing Live at Fillmore East, there are three remastered cuts of probably the best tracks from Fillmore. Most ABB fans will already have Fillmore, but if you don't it's great to have these.
Over half of Disc four is solo and side project material by ABB members. As with disk one, all of these cuts are at least pretty good, with some really excellent numbers thrown in as well.
I'd rate this as one of the best boxed sets available because it doesn't contain any unnecessary filler tracks. You won't find yourself hitting the skip button very much at all. The breadth of ABB's musical heritage is laid out clearly and will continue to amaze after many listens.
If you're new to the band, as I was, this is a can't-go-wrong purchase.
on October 24, 2004
This is not the place to start your Allman Brothers collection (unless you have money to burn), but it is a fine stop along the way for devoted fans of the band.
"Dreams" is a four-disc, 55-song compilation, handsomely presented in a LP-sized box with a large, well illustrated and well written 30-page booklet.
It includes songs recorded between 1966 and 1988, so the Allmans' latter-day comeback is not documented. That detracts from "Dreams" as a career overview, of course, but all of that latter-day material is easily available anyway, so no great harm done.
Disc one includes a number of early recordings by Duane and Gregg Allman and their pre-ABB outfits, The Allman Joys, The Hourglass, 31st Of February, and the too-psychedelic Second Coming. Some of it is pedestrian, but there is actually quite a lot of good stuff as well, particularly the three Allman Joys numbers. And the late Duane Allman takes a rare lead vocal on the 1969 single "Goin' Down Slow" (previously only available on the Duane Allman "Anthology" from 1972).
The last two discs also include a number of songs from the solo careers of Gregg Allman and original co-lead guitarist Richard "Dickey" Betts. There is some really good stuff, particularly Gregg Allman's almost spiritual-like version of the Beatles' "Rain", Betts' up-tempo country-rockers "Crazy Love" and "Good Time Feeling", and the utterly beautiful outtake "Nancy". And you also get most of the good stuff from the Allmans' otherwise forgettable late 70s/early 80s LPs.
About a dozen of these 55 songs are previously unreleased (or were at the time), and some are hard-to-find singles or B-sides or just obscure album tracks. Those songs will certainly attract serious ABB fans, but more casual fans will probably find that one of these four discs could have been omitted with no great harm done.
Still, there is no denying that "Dreams" comes awfully close to delivering the definitive word on the Allman Brothers Band. All their classic songs are here, alongside studio outtakes like "Statesboro Blues" (!) and "One More Ride", previously unreleased live recordings of "One Way Out", "Elizabeth Reed" and "Just Ain't Easy", and a live-in-the-studio radio broadcast medley of "You Don't Love Me" and "Soul Serenade".
Serious ABB fans will definitely want this fine set in their collection, and lots of "mid-level" fans (like me) should find an awful lot to like as well. Even if they already have most of the ABB stuff, "Dreams" may well turn them on to the underappreciated solo career of Dickey Betts.
Oh, and that studio version of "Statesboro Blues"? Terrific! Why that one was never released is a mystery.
on October 20, 1999
This was one of the top boxed sets compiled and released along with Clapton Crossroads, and Bob Dylan Biograph.
This box mixes great album tracks, outstanding live cuts (the quadrophonic Fillmore East cuts of Whipping Post and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed for example), terrific unreleased tracks (the Idlewild South outtake of Statesboro Blues, as an example), and thoughtful and insightful solo ventures.
One of the best paced boxed sets. If you only want one Allman Brothers' release this fits the bill nicely.
Oh, and had they done the Doobie Brothers' box (a group that had a similar career) the same way, that would get five stars as well!
on November 12, 2002
This was the first box set I ever bought, and with good reason. The Brothers are my favorite band (excepting, of course, the Beatles). For a fan, this is essential. You get to hear the birth and evolution of what finally became the ABB on disc one, the hearty meat of their brilliant career, and the sad, slow decline as personnel changes and other problems as the band disintegrated. This set beautifully documents their career up to the resurrection of the Brothers, beginning with the absolutely brilliant Seven Turns.
The unreleased and expanded tracks speak to the amazing chemistry between the original musicians. Gregg, Duaine, Dickey, Berry, Butch, and Jaimoe seemed to have musical telepathy. The band as a whole could anticipate each musician's next move.
The only thing about this set is that it will eventually prove dissatisfying if you're buying it as the one ABB set for your collection. It will make you want to get Beginnings, Fillmore, Eat A Peach, and Brothers and Sisters. However, you will still turn to this set for the stuff that those albums don't have.
An amazing set from an amazing band.
on December 22, 2000
A previous review said that he wished that a studio or live version of "Dreams" was on this set in addition to the demo version. Well, the studio version which originally appeared on their self-titled debut from 1969 is indeed in this box set. It's the last track of the first CD.
Now on to the review. This collection is excellent. Unlike what some previous reviewers have said, I like having the pre-Allman Brothers band material in there as well as the post-Allman Brothers band material. A lot of people mentioned that they only listen to the "meat" material--from around the end of CD 1 through CD 3. As far as I'm concerned if you're only interested in the ABB material, then save yourself some money and go with one of the three compilations out there that cover the same turf: "Decade of Hits," "Legendary Hits," or "The Millenium Collection."
As a side note, "Mycology" makes a great companion to this CD. Covers their perhaps surprisingly excellent '90's material extremely well. Think of it as the the box set's "fifth" CD.
on June 30, 2007
This is a great box set, one of the best box set ever put out. It came out just before the Allmans got back together in 1989 (and have stayed together for the most part since). It has a lot of early stuff they did as the Allman Joys. There's a cover of Shapes of Things which sounds like The Archies, even though Gregg is singing lead. The album has all the great, important material, like the Filmore East versions of Whippin' Post and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Revival, Ramblin' Man, Blue Sky, Revival, Don't Want You No More, and It's Not My Cross to Bear. It has some great unreleased tracks (including a blistering live version of One Way Out, which is better than the version on Eat a Peach), a great cover of I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town, and Gregg's great solo hit I'm No Angel. It also has Gregg's solo cover of Midnight Rider, which is spookier than the original song. There is no really bad material here (and the 2 awful Arista albums, Reach for the Sky and Brothers of the Road, only have one song a piece here, which is good). It's got the classics, and it's got the best material from the vaults. It's a win-win for any Allman Brothers Band fan.
I always liked this band and had all of the albums up to and including Brothers and Sisters. They were all converted to CDs and then I got rid of some of them when I purchased this box set. I did not dispose of Fillmore, nor Ludlow Garage and then supplemented the collection with the album released via GD records.
Why did I buy this? Good question. Not really for the additional tracks pre-official releases but mainly for the alternate live versions and the remixed, remastered types. Sounds pretty good even in my car system.
I love Whipping Post, In Memeory of Elizabeth Reid as well as the greatest hits of Blue Sky, Jessica, Ramblin' Man and Melissa.
The four CDs are good value for money and I do not regret buying this. For the new fan coming to the band for the first time, it is probably one box set that they do not want in their collection because there is plenty of other great stuff out there and then there is the new Phil Lesh album too.
More for long time supporters rather than anyone else but a great tribute to the band where the road goes on forever.
on October 28, 2000
The reason this box set is essential, is that it helps to bring together some of the music that shows why the Allman Brothers is one the great treasures in music. It was because of this release that the Brothers reformed and 11 years later are still a force, and one of the most popular touring bands out there.
Thirty years after they first hit the public eye and ears, they show that the Cream does rise to the top. Think of how many musicals trends have come and gone,and they are still with us. While some may disagree with what is included and was excluded, there is still enough to hear and marvel at. From the early pyschedelia of the Hourglass to the solo cuts of Gregg and Dickey, this shows the evolution of a band that has lived what they sing. In my opinion this is the best box set ever, and any ABB fan will love it, and new fans can hear what true peach heads have always known.
on February 17, 2000
Any critical comments i have regarding this box set must be prefaced with this: it is nearly perfect, and is the perfect addition to an ABB collection. However-- it could be a bit better. WHile there are a great number of live tracks, i would not mind hearing even more. As somebody who loves to hear a great jam, some more extented versions of songs would be great. HOwever, the fillmore east Whipping post, and liz reed, and the you don't love me/soul serenade combo do a damn good job of showcasing live Allmans. I am also wondering why Mountain Jam was left out. Besides these small gripes i have, the rest of the song selection is excellent. THe meat of the collection is the two middle cds. While the first has some great pure ABB music, and great duane projects, some of the earlier stuff- while interesting as history- is not as musically genius as the music of the developed, mature band. It is the fourth cd that forces me to give the this collection four instead of five stars. The ABB tunes are from the Brother's weakest period. WHile the basic ABB sound is there, the songs are injected with lots of pop sound. Also Gregg's singing is less emotive as on earlier songs. Their songs at this time lacked the magic of the original band. Their line up lacked the energy and virtuoso skill of the original and present line up. With the exception of the of the sick live '79 version of liz reed (its real nice to hear Gregg soloing) the band's songs from this time are not so memorable. And while Dickey Betts' playing is impressive as always(esp. on Bougainvillea), his country soaked material doesn't quite do it for me. HOwever, the Dickey Betts Band's Duane's Tune has traces of the Haynes/woody era Allmans. The line up is pretty damn good, with Matt Abts delivering real rock n roll drumming, while Haynes and Betts play powerful dual lead guitar. Besides its beefed up, powerful sound, this song is in the tradition of Betts' genius instrumentals. The weakest aspect of this last cd is Gregg Allman's solo work. THe inclusion of his collaboration with cher almost does a diservice to the original Allmans sound, and his other stuff, while well sung, sounds more like pop music. I hardly ever listen to the last cd, despite some gems (basically the liz reed, bougainvellia, and duane's tune). so, while 75% of the collection is basically perfect, the last cd is almost not needed. i'd rather have that space taken up by some sick live songs from the bands golden age when duane and berry were still with the band.
on April 15, 2009
The hidden gem here is a version of Little Martha that includes a beautiful bass contribution by Berry Oakley (the Eat a Peach version that is available on many compilations is a duet between Duane Allman and Dickey Betts). I have not seen it offered anywhere else, and it is almost worth the price of the whole package on its own. It is absolutely worth the $0.99 MP3 price. Turn the bass up and check out the sample.