Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY: 5/1/73

The Allman Brothers Band

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Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY: 5/1/73 Review

by William Ruhlmann

The Allman Brothers Band Recording Company, founded in 2002 to issue archival live recordings, began by focusing on what most fans would consider the group's peak period, its earliest phase, when guitarist Duane Allman was in charge. The first release, American University 12/13/70 (2002), and the second, S.U.N.Y. at Stonybrook 9/19/71 (2003), both prominently featured Duane Allman. But the third release, Macon City Auditorium 2/11/72 (2004), was drawn from a concert held a few months after the guitarist's death, and this, the company's fourth album, takes a further leap by chronicling a show held after the death of bassist Berry Oakley and the reconfiguration of the band to include new bassist Lamar Williams and pianist Chuck Leavell. When the Allmans arrived at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, NY, for two concerts in the spring of 1973, they were, as annotator John Lynskey notes, moving into larger venues to accommodate their much increased audience, playing two shows at a 15,000-seat sports arena rather than theater dates. Even as tragedy threatened to overcome it, the Allman Brothers Band had become a very successful act by 1973. In the midst of the turmoil, the group was also trying to finish a new album, and, indeed, singer/organist/guitarist Gregg Allman announced to the crowd that the LP, Brothers and Sisters, would be out in two weeks. (It actually appeared three months later.) In anticipation, the band played "Wasted Words," "Jessica," "Come & Go Blues," and "Ramblin' Man" from the forthcoming album during the first set. The obvious difference between this lineup and the previous ones was in the changed arrangements due to the different instrumentation. Leavell covered for Gregg Allman on keyboards when he picked up a guitar, as on "Wasted Words," but much of the time this version of the Allmans was a two-keyboard/one-guitar unit rather than the two-guitar/one-keyboard configuration of Duane Allman's time. That difference was particularly notable during the long jams on "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" at the end of the first set and in virtually the entirety of the second set, as lengthy performances of "Les Brers in A Minor," "Whipping Post," and "Mountain Jam" succeeded each other. Guitarist Dickey Betts had turned to slide work in emulation of Duane Allman, and he was highly proficient, but the twin-guitar lines of old were gone, and the improvisational sections took a jazzier turn. The Allman Brothers Band remained a formidable performing unit in 1973, but it was a less directed effort than it had been in the past. (Typical of the sound of concerts at the time, the sound quality is muddy at first as the mixing board is adjusted, then improves. But it never achieves 21st century standards. "We hope the performance more than makes up for these flaws," a sleeve note reads. For most Allman Brothers fans, it will.)

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