The Allman Brothers Band

One Way Out: Live at the Beacon Theatre

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Do we really need another live double CD by the Allman Brothers Band? Oh yeah. In fact, when they play this well, we need them in droves. This collection marks the second time the Allman Brothers have issued music from their storied shows at the Beacon Theater in New York. The first, Peakin' at the Beacon, was issued in 2000 with Dickey Betts and Derek Trucks in the lineup. Betts had not yet been fired and Warren Haynes was yet to return to the fold. While Betts is a singular voice and is one of the pillars of the ABB's sound, this new version of the band with Trucks and Haynes manning the guitars has gelled into a formidable unit; in fact, they are something spectacular. Add to the fact that Gregg Allman is singing and playing better than at any time in his life (and Haynes is no slouch either), and you have the best live band in the world, bar none. A major plus on this outing is that with the exception of a handful of tracks -- "Statesboro Blues," "Wasted Words," "Ain't Wastin Time No More," "Dreams," and "Whipping Post" (which closes the set) -- the other 13 cuts are not usually found on the Brothers' live sets. The versions of the classics are as tough and reverent as can be expected; there is no burden placed on these tracks by virtue of their weight and status in the band's canon -- which speaks plenty for the power and acumen of these versions. And on the other tunes, including classics like "Midnight Rider" and "Trouble No More," Gregg's powerful country ballad "Old Before My Time," the funky, burning read of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," "Woman Across the River," and "Worried Down With the Blues," the band is completely unified. Jaimoe and Butch Trucks weave in and through one another to provide an edgy, rollicking ballast to the separate-channel guitars of Derek Trucks and Haynes, who don't duel so much as propel one another to flights of six-string soulfulness and dizzying high-wire pyrotechnics -- Derek's slide playing is otherworldly; it's full of Indian modal and jazz scales, and Haynes, is, well, Warren Haynes. The other notable thing about One Way Out is its sound. Never has a live mix come across with such immediacy and dynamic tension. This is the sound of a band in the room with you. You are hearing the music as it was made from the stage; the listener is in the mix, not in front of it. Pair this with Hittin' the Note, the studio album from 2003, and you have the sound of a band that has no peers. One Way Out is essential for anyone interested in rock & roll. Period.

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