Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Album Review: The Allman Brothers Band - Live at Manley Field House, Syracuse University 1972

The Allman Brothers Band
Live at Manley Field House, Syracuse University
**** out of *****

The newest archival release from The Allman Brothers Band shines a light on a brief period in their history when they were a five piece outfit. Live at Manley Field House, Syracuse University 1972, was recorded just six months after the death of guitar great Duane Allman and features the Brothers as a leaner blues rock band.

The five piece (Gregg Allman – vocals, Hammond B3 organ, piano Dickey Betts – lead guitar Berry Oakley – bass guitar Jaimoe – drums, percussion Butch Trucks – drums, tympani) dedicated this night to "everyone in attendance and Brother Duane". The show has long been a bootleg for fans, but this recording has been remastered, there are still some sound issues, things can sound a bit compressed, but overall it is in pretty solid sonic shape. 

The ripping trio to kick open the show of classics "Statesboro Blues", "Done Somebody Wrong" and "Ain't Wastin' Time No More", are high all high energy and show case Betts lead guitar playing matched with Oakley's incredible bass which acts as a second lead instrument in this incarnation of the group. Oakley's loud bass pummels "Done Somebody Wrong" and is the clear early star of the show while Betts slide masterfully works the original "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" with such confidence, sliding directly into "One Way Out".

On "One Way Out" Allman's keys and the drums take center stage, while the drums would continue to fire all night, Gregg's keys and singing is the only part of this show that doesn't soar to astounding heights. The slow blues groove of "Stormy Monday" is fine, but versions (such as At Fillmore East) clearly stand above it, the same might not be able to be said for "You Don't Love Me" though. 

The clear highpoint of the album and a must hear live tune is this version of "You Don't Love Me" as it cooks. The keys and drums get the groove going to start, a bit more upbeat than usual as the tune moves forward, then stops at about five an half minutes before Betts unleashes a monstrous solo that then pushes the band into huge, dramatic playing for five more minutes, followed by a skittering, southern fried hoedown with drums and Dickey speaking a unique language as the group feels like they could going on forever. 

The cool chill out of start of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" (with thick bass from Oakley) is a nice exhale from the band but it gains in tempo as it progresses before a quick spin through the classic "Midnight Rider" which acts as a touch of a breather before the Brothers dip back into the maelstrom with another extended outing, this time via "Whipping Post". The tune moves in the same neighborhood as the "You Don't Love Me" jam did, big, dramatic crescendos, with powerful drumming and soaring slide, before an almost glam rock like ending that closed the set of tunes.

The band felt like they were onto something and delivered the crowd some more of that swaggering rock via the instrumental excursion titled "Syracuse Jam", which started the encore, before dipping into the fluid organ and riff laced show closer "Hot 'Lanta". 

This hot night of tunes showcased the band minus Duane, but still with Oakley, who would die from a motorcycle cycle injury as well, just about six months after this show. A unique version of The Allman Brothers Band, Live at Manley Field House, Syracuse University 1972 is a solid show from the legendary rockers. 

Support the artists, buy the album, and peep some video below:

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