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In Memory of Elizabeth Reed off of the Eat a Peach Deluxe CD from the June 27, 1971 closing of the Fillmore opens up deliciously smooth and elegant. The band just slides into a relaxed tempo and it’s the most refreshing version of this number I have heard. Here the band is taking its time. The intensity slowly builds like true love making ought to be through this excursion.

The lead work is original and in the moment. The drums splash beautifully in the background as Dickey drives his vision forward with the band having his back all the way. After you play so long together you have a true sense where your band mate is going and you are allowed to listen and get there with them. You can really hear this in Berry’s playing and the drums, oh the drums gently sitting in the mix right where they should be never over powering but well heard. The rhythm section has the anchor and counterpoint in complete subtle sympathetic syncopation.

Gregg jumps in with short chord runs sharply leading the band. The clarity of the mix is perfect with the organ fully heard out front and it chimes and grooves and swaggers righteously. It sounds beautiful, fresh and inventive….then his brother steps up….

Biting, sharp, relentless guitar attacks funk out before sailing off and then returning to a blistering foray all the while Butch, Jaimoe Gregg and Berry keep the tempo locked down as we drift off into a meditative frame punctuated by mid tone arpeggios as the band sways easily like spanish moss….and then the gibsons get vicious, biblical with fierce clean attacks and not overwrought then settling down again for more delicious mid tone punctuations the entire band right there as the drum sticks come forward just a bit then everyone builds together catching fire once more in a tenacious drive while the overall groove stays calm and cool….(how the fuck do you play the guitar like that) fantastic as they perpetuate the drive forward abruptly to the drums briefly and then back to the closing and locking it back down as they close the door on their creation. Holy shit what’s behind that door they just opened and what kind of force, power and vision did they tap into in that graveyard? It’s a thing of monstrous beauty whatever it is and strongly rendered. This is a sublime ferocious and beautiful version of a seminal tune.

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed deserves its own spot in the Smithsonian and for that reason I’m singling it out here. We all know the tune there must be thousands of renditions but this one reads all the passages in such a refreshing calm inventive and fierce manner. The nuanced beginning followed by the expansive meditative dynamic giving way to the fiery crescendos and the thundering close. It’s a standout version at once both mellow and intense with a deep deep groove. Upon hearing it again after so many years with fresh ears it is all too clear while some of us have the good fortune to be totally obsessed by this band and their music…

Stand Back – when listening to Eat a Peach and believe me it was almost impossible to get to as I had to pry The Fillmore Concerts out of my player – its beguiling to think, project where and what the band was going to do next had brother Duane decided to stick around for some more studio albums. His contribution to Les Bres alone would have taken that tune to another level and I say that absolutely loving that butt shaking tune that Berry just rumbles through.

Okay so maybe I’m stating the obvious but we really only get Blue Sky, Stand Back and Little Martha as studio cuts from Eat a Peach. It’s an immense rip off by the music gods. I know, I know they are a live band and Duane is more than well represented on the Eat a Peach Album I’m listening to the Deluxe Edition with the June 1971 closing of the Fillmore represented on the second disc. It’s a wonderful compilation with excellent liner notes, packaging and throwback labeling on the discs. But contrast Stand Back, Blue Sky and Little Martha for a moment and hold them in your mind. Each tune is in its own right a different genre. While Stand Back is the fuel injected brothers swaggering through their composition Blue Sky is its melodic counter point. Much like their playing these two songs back to back represent the branches of the tree that was the Allman Brothers. They are two tonal opposites yet together much like Dickey and Duane trading riffs. Of course Gregg is writing here and Dickey is writing there but what brings them together the playing of Duane is a very necessary bridge. Not to draw too fine a point on it but Duane was the glue that kept Dickey and Gregg together and without Duane they blew apart and it’s no one’s fault and their personal vision which they were more than entitled too and deserved were different but Duane was the Fulcrum through which their immense talents traveled.

Considering the emergence of the sound that Dickey was bringing forward (Blue Sky) and the swagger of the ABB (Stand Back) and then Little Martha is it really that far out to imagine an all-acoustic album considering Dickey’s Highway Call effort (which I freaking love) and Duane’s solo work with Sam Samudio as featured on the track Goin’ Upstairs? Would it have been so far out of the question that the Allman Brothers with Duane would have done a record sounding like Taj Mahal melded with their swagger? Considering all their influences that were revealed the above mentioned Highway Call and Gregg’s Low Country Blues would such a collective effort over time eclipsed or outfitted the Dawg Music genre with the power of the blues as opposed to just Django? It’s fascinating to imagine what that would have sounded like.

Much has been written and spoken about Duane and the Trane – John Coltrane and Miles – righteous brothers indeed and Tom Dowd’s jazz cat ways but what about the root of the tree of music as embodied by Little Martha? How much more of that would we have seen and heard (Pony Boy)? What would have Duane’s input done to Jessica and Southbound (songs I am passionate about)?

So here we are with Eat a Peach and we just have three studio cuts that are dynamic and all together different and just the greenest of shoots of the myriad of directions this band would have taken, could have taken, fanning off like a giant river oak.

The tree of music that remained and rebirthed time and time again was fortuitous and mighty in its own right and we are all the better for its perseverance, fortitude, drive and power but for a moment play the what if game and use Stand Back, Blue Sky and Little Martha as your jumping off points.

I’m a big fan of the ABB studio work as well, Gregg’s and Dickey’s solo efforts but imagine if it had all stayed together – just three studio cuts from Eat a Peach point the way.

Still listening to the Fillmore Concerts 1992 mix by Tom Dowd – Whipping Post is just crazy – the first six minutes dissolve into an amalgamation of themes, trances, movements and refrains that eclipse the standard format of what a popular song is and evolve into art. The shifts that this live exploration of sound make are a kin to winding through a mountain pass so subtle and soft are their landings you may fail to notice every strand of grass or shift in rock formation but they are there.

In its whole its a creative work of genius and the gods but each note, arpeggio and sonic exploration has a purpose and melds from the righteous spirit that drove their creation in the first place.

Their work together on these recordings are true compositions rivaling the masters Bach, and Mozart. Call it jazz, call it rock n roll but it is so much more and beyond the “jam band” moniker its ridiculous. Get this music out listen to it again deeply and pay attention. If you think you know it because you listened to it repeatably years ago you will be surprised at the sophistication, the maturity, the musicianship and the touches and flourishes that permeate the main themes and arcs. It’s quite unbelievable what is going on here as the musicians work together and intertwine with each other.

Eat a Peach is on deck next on my musical sojourn back through their catalogue but its going to have to wait for a while more as I re-listen to disc two and circle back to the first disc – I really don’t see an end in sight and that in and of itself is a beautiful thing.

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