As the tide finally starts turning in the battle against the COVID-pandemic, some acts have started tentatively planning new live dates. The word “tentatively” is stressed here as the world is still watching and waiting to see how much longer this pandemic will rage. To that end, there is still very much a place for live recordings for audiences everywhere. Enter legendary rock band The Allman Brothers Band and its latest live recording, Down in Texas ’71. Scheduled for release Friday through its own label, The Allman Brothers Band Recording Company, the 10-song recording is the latest in a long line of live recordings that the band has released over the years. Even with that in mind, it is still its own enjoyable presentation. That is due in no small part to its production values, which will be discussed shortly. The recording’s featured set list plays its own part in the recording’s presentation and will be discussed a little later. The companion booklet that accompanies the recording rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this recording. All things considered, it proves itself to be a welcome way for the band’s fans to continue getting their live music fix while they wait for the full, official return of live music.
The Allman Brothers Band’s latest live recording Down in Texas ’71 is a work that boasts wide appeal among audiences. That is due in no small part to the recording’s production values. Speaking specifically, the audio production forms its foundation since this is an audio-only presentation. The production is important to note because it boasts all of the richness of the concert’s original recording, which was captured Sept. 28, 1971 at the Austin Municipal Auditorium in Austin, TX. All of the static is there from the original masters as is the fullness in the band’s sound. The way in which the vocals, guitar, and keyboard join makes for such an immersive experience. Dickey Betts’ drumming is audible in the background, but not too distant. Audiences can even hear the subtlety of the audience noise. That raw sound is a tribute to those who transferred the original recording over to CD and digital. That the recording was transferred and cleaned up just enough means here, that audiences get a presentation that is just as good as anything that the band ever released on vinyl. There is no loss here, nor is there any sign of spit-shining the sound. It ensures in its own way, audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment. Simply put, the audio production values here make the very first impact like opening up a long lost musical time capsule for the first time in ages and just being blown away by what is inside. Those impressive audio production values go a long way toward making this presentation appealing. They are just a part of what makes the recording a success. The show’s set list adds to the recording’s appeal.
The nine song set featured in Down in Texas ’71 is important to note in that it actually is a representation of The Allman Brothers Band early in its life. Five of the nine songs featured in the recording – the 10th track is a live interview – are covers, yes, but they are songs featured in what was then the band’s very first ever live recording, At Fillmore East. One of the songs – the band’s cover of Muddy Waters’ song, ‘Trouble No More’ is lifted from the band’s 1969 self-titled debut album. Its follow-up, 1970’s Idlewild South, gets two nods. The band even gave audiences a taste of what would later become its third album Eat a Peach in the form of the Elmore James/Sonny Boy Williamson II cover, ‘One Way Out.’ The short and simple is this: This recording’s set list is a rich representation of the band’s still very young catalog at the time of the concert. It makes for its own appeal. When that appeal is paired with the engagement and entertainment ensured through the recording’s solid production values, that whole strengthens the recording’s presentation even more. Even with all of this in mind, the recording still has one more positive to note. It comes through the companion booklet that accompanies the recording.
The recording’s companion booklet is important to examine due to the insights that band’s historian John P. Lynskey offers audiences in his liner notes. Right from notes’ outset, Lynskey cites The Allman Brothers Band Museum Executive Director Richard Brent as saying that the band was riding the success of At Fillmore East at the time that it recorded this concert. That would explain why that live recording — interestingly recorded that March and released only months later that July – was the central focus of this live recording. The Austin show contained herein was more than likely part of a tour in support of At Fillmore East and at least partially in support of Eat a Peach. Lynskey additionally states in his notes, the concert presented here would be among the last for the late, great Duane Allman. Allman died a month after the concert, Lynskey pointed out, making this performance that much more powerful and enjoyable in hindsight. As Lynskey progresses through his notes, he cites Brent again, noting audiences who listen closely would note a subtle sign of the band’s growth. He cites Brent as saying of that sign, “We talk about the possible jazz direction and all that, but I can’t help but think what would have happened if Duane had gotten into Drop D tuning, which a lot of Black Sabbath music is played in; what would that have been like?” Brent was referencing Allman’s guitar riff in ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and how one moment in particular got him to such deep thinking. Audiences will be left to discover the whole story for themselves when they purchase this recording, which is actually being used to raise money for maintenance of The Allman Brothers Band Museum (also known as The Big House). Between these noted ruminations and others presented in Lynskey’s liner notes, the whole of those notes pairs with the recording’s outstanding production values and its equally impressive set list to make the whole of this previously unreleased live recording a must have for any fan of The Allman Brothers.
The Allman Brothers Band’s new forthcoming live recording, Down in Texas ’71 is a presentation that rock fans and fans of The Allman Brothers Band alike will enjoy. That is proven in part through the recording’s production values. They prevent any loss in the sound while also making sure the recording doesn’t sound like it’s been spit-shined in its restoration. It sounds just as good as any vintage vinyl from the band and its contemporaries. It proves that CDs can be and are in many cases, just as good as vinyl. The set list featured in the recording is a great representation of the band’s catalog during what was still very much the band’s infancy. The recording’s companion booklet presents its own appealing background on the concert, assembled by the band’s historian, John P. Lynskey. Each item noted here does its own part to make the recording overall successful. All things considered, they make the recording one of this year’s best new live CD recordings. Down in Texas ’71 is scheduled for release Friday through The Allman Brothers Band Recording Company.
A limited edition pre-sale bundle is available at a price of $50. The bundle features the noted recording, a Down in Texas t-shirt, and reflective Allman Brothers Band reflective badge sticker. The pre-sale bundle is available exclusively through The Big House online merchandise store, and through The Big House Museum gift sale.
Proceeds from the exclusive release will benefit the Allman Brothers Band Museum. The museum is housed inside The Big House in Macon, GA. The band members, their roadies, and friends lived in the building from 1970-’73, the band’s formative years.
More information on the Allman Brothers Band’s upcoming Madison Square Garden concert is available online at:
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