On March 9, 2004, Dickey Betts & Great Southern taped a triple live CD at the Odeon in Cleveland. About a half a year later, on September 29, 2004, the same group, albeit with a different bassist, performed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and those September recordings are what make up most of this project, Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. This DVD superbly captures the glory, and has lots of bonus features to boot that make it very appealing for the fan base. Outside of the obvious, that this material is absolutely redundant and something the hardcore Allman Brothers Band aficionado has heard and seen a zillion times, it's still a wonderful presentation and something a casual Allman Brothers fan will pick up on and not even realize it's not the original group. The playing is very close to the hit versions of these classics, so don't expect any Jimmy Page-style wanderings, though there are some nice phrases from the Jimi Hendrix epic "Third Stone from the Sun" tucked into the audio version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," and the vocals on "Blue Sky" are wonderfully ragged. These takes can be found on the accompanying CD bonus disc, part of the three songs taped at the soundcheck, the additional two songs coming from the Rock Hall concert itself including "Dona Maria" from the 2001 Dickey Betts Band disc Let's Get Together (strangely titled "Donna Marie" on the DVD case and in the four-page insert). The song, written for his wife Donna Marie Betts, is etched into infamy for an incident the couple had "Rollin' down highway 41" around the time of the self-titled Dickey Betts Band release. Bass player Pedro Arevalo joins Betts, Allman Brothers guitarist Dan Toler, Mike Kach -- who contributes the song "Get Away" on Hammond organ, piano, and vocals -- and drummer Frankie Lombardi for this very nice romp, though there's more Allman Brothers material than Great Southern or Dickey Betts Band tunes. And off course the reason it is mostly culled from Allman Brothers repertoire is as much to please the crowd as to prove a point. There's the title track from 1990s Seven Turns along with "Come on in My Kitchen" from 1991's Shades of Two Worlds, and "No One to Run With," "Change My Way of Living," as well as the title track, "Back Where It All Begins," from 1994's Where It All Begins CD.
ABB purists might say this riff or that is out of place, but there's no way the casual radio listener could ever tell the difference. Some of this music can also be found on the 2007 Evangeline release, Official Bootleg, recorded in 2006 and -- as stated -- it is all wonderfully redundant. Heck, the song "Southbound" appears on all three of the Betts live discs referenced on this presentation, but here you get the video and delicious bonus tracks, the four-page booklet, a solid radio interview, and the additional audio CD with some performances not on the DVD. All in all, a very fine representation of Dickey Betts, a solid statement the journeyman guitarist deserves.