Friday, February 8, 2013

El Gato Con Botas


Allman Brothers 1996

 After being the biggest band in America for a few years in the 70's, the Allman Bros wallowed away in Southern rock star cliche and substance abuse for several years. In the mid 90's, they enjoyed a resurgence after Warren Haynes and Allen Woody joined the group. Warren certainly is no Duane, but he's no slouch either, and he did an excellent job contributing vocals and original songs to the band. Woody is a beast of a man. Legend had it he would eat bass guitars for breakfast. There's no denying Berry Oakley's greatness, but not knowing much about him, and having witnessed the power and glory of Woody up close, it is hard to imagine a better Allman's bass player than Woody. While it's arguable who was a better, certainly this lineup was the 2nd greatest version of the Allmans, making them relevant again. Unfortunately Dickey couldn't hold his shit together, and while the current lineup with Derek Trucks and Oteil Burbridge might be the most musically competent, they are certainly well past the peak. But that's neither here nor there. What is here are a couple great shows from this great incarnation of the Bros.

One of my favorite things about Allmans shows post-95 were the St. Stephen jams they would bust out, usually in the middle of a Liz Reed, Jessica, or other instrumental tunes, following the drums, with Woody leading them into it with a bass jam. It seemed sometimes they'd riff around on other tunes like Dark Star and Lovelight as well. Certainly, it was the ultimate tip of the hat to the Grateful Dead, and St. Stephen was such a fitting way to do it. Unexpectedly, in the middle of an Allman's show, you'd be sitting on the lawn during drums, tripping your face off, freaked out by the gnarly biker dude to your left and the space cadet hippie to your right, thinking it might be time to go home, then you hear something familiar: what is that melody, could it be, it can't be, holy shit I think it is!!!!! For Deadheads like me, the wounds were still fresh from Garcia's passing in '95, and the Allmans got what it was all about for us. It was an acknowledgement of the loss, and the greatness of the music. The perfect song choice, the lyrics really say it all:

Saint Stephen will remain
All he's lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he's got to calling it home

And Woody would be there in the middle of it all, thumping away, looking as though he had just been released from a cage, yet still on chains to prevent this beast from tearing the heads of folks in the front row, who were being drenched with his drool. So enjoy these Allman's shows as a tribute to another great beast of a man, Allen Woody.

Allman Brothers Band
Oak Mountain Amphitheater - Pelham, AL

Disc 1:
1. Don't Want You No More
2. It's Not My Cross To Bear
3. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
4. Seven Turns
5. Good Clean Fun
6. Blues Jam > Hoochie Coochie Man
7. Tombstone Eyes
Filler: Chicago, IL - 5/12/96
8. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed > Drum Solo > Bass Solo

Disc 2:
1. Stand Back
2. True Gravity > Jam > Drum Solo >Bass Solo > St. Stephen Jam > TrueGravity
3. When It All Comes Down
4. Stormy Monday
5. End Of The Line

Disc 3:
1. Southbound
2. Nobody Left To Run With
3. Back Where It All Begins
4. One Way Out
5. Jessica
Filler: Chicago, IL - 5/12/96
6. Jam > Blue Sky
7. Jam > Ramblin' Man 

Allman Brothers Band
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga, NY

Disc 1
1. Intro
2. Statesboro Blues
3. Midnight Rider
4. Blue Sky
5. You Don't Love Me
6. The Same Thing
7. True Gravity

Disc 2
1. Dreams
2. Hoochie Coochie Man
3. Soulshine
4. End Of The Line
5. Back Where It All Begins

Disc 3
1. No One To Run With
2. Jessica
3. One Way Out