The Allman Brothers Band

The Essential Allman Brothers Band: The Epic Years

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This compilation is highly debatable as to whether it's the "Essential" Allman Brothers Band on Epic or essential at all. But there are some nice things here. For one, if offers a pretty good look at Dickey Betts as a songwriter. The title cut from Seven Turns could have been on his own Highway Call, and the live version of "Blue Sky," whose studio version originally appeared on Eat a Peach, appears here from 1992's An Evening With the Allman Brothers Band. It's notable, as is his "Jessica" from the release of the second set of that evening as a separate outing. His other tunes, "Nobody Knows" and "No One to Run With," are less successful. The former sounds like Betts was trying to rewrite the jamming section of "Whipping Post" as a new song, and the latter sounds like a bombastic Bo Diddley tribute. Of the rest, there is the now irritatingly ubiquitous "Soulshine" by Warren Haynes, which appears on almost every live outing by Gov't Mule or the Allmans. It's a decent song, but if one never heard it again it would be too soon. The acoustic version of "Midnight Rider" is taken from a previous anthology called Mycology; terrible backing vocals and Haynes doing a bad Jerry Garcia impersonation during his solo mar the cut. The final tune is a live version of Gregg Allman's "Please Call Home" from Peakin' at the Beacon. Allman is one of the greatest white blues singers in history, but simply put, this isn't one of his best performances of this tune. His vocal never catches fire because he's overwhelmed by a band that doesn't get the subtlety of the tune. This is spotty to be sure, but it contains some inspired moments.

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