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Published: 2003/11/28
by Brian Ferdman

Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival – Allman Brothers Band

Sony Legacy 86909

Duane Allman's brief tenure with the Allman Brothers Band lasted for only
slightly more than two years, but within that time, his freewheeling
Southern rock group soared to lofty heights on many a concert stage.
Encompassing both raucous blues and mellow jazz, the Allman Brothers Band
arguably reached their creative peak on the 1971 album The Allman
Brothers at Fillmore East. Shortly thereafter, Duane Allman died in a
motorcycle accident, abruptly cutting short the legacy of one of rock's
greatest improvisational guitarists.

Now, the Allman Brothers have dug deep into their vaults to unearth two
concerts from the Atlanta International Pop Festival on July 3 and 5, 1970.
These shows occurred several months before the legendary Fillmore East
concerts, and Dickey Betts and Duane Allman were not yet the veritable
hand-in-glove double-pronged guitar attack that would leave jaws agape in
1971. Finesse was lacking from the Allman Brothers Band at this point in
time, but what they lacked in savoir-faire, they more than made up for in
ferocious energy.

A hulking mass of unseasoned raw power permeates this recording, and the
listener gets a nice glimpse of this group in their formative stages of
development. Butch Trucks and J Johnny Johnson (as Jaimoe is credited on the disc) pound their drums with
authority, while Gregg Allman unleashes a firestorm of rage in his tortured
vocals. Not to be outdone, bassist Berry Oakley growls, snorts, and spits
fire when delivering his impassioned vocal turn on "Hoochie Coochie Man."
Right on cue, part-time band member Thom Doucette uses his piercing
harmonica to great effect while leading the band through "Don't Keep Me
Wonderin'." Duane Allman is omnipresent throughout, making his guitar wail
and moan, while Betts provides a solid complement and occasionally makes his
presence known in a solo.

Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of new ground covered by this
release. More or less, these are the same songs that are on previous live
releases, and five songs are repeated from 7/3/70 to 7/5/70. The
differences in performances are mainly punctuated by a more aggressive
attack on the second night. Perhaps the band was a little shaky before
performing on 7/3/70, considering that Duane Allman, fresh from a massive
traffic jam, had arrived just minutes before the set began. In addition,
7/3/70's "Mountain Jam" is interrupted by a rain delay, and when the song
resumes, it starts to pickup steam just before an agonizing fade-out,
signaling that Disc One is perilously near the 80-minute threshold. The
"Mountain Jam" from 7/5/70 is an entirely different affair, leaving ample
room for discovery on a soulful jam, featuring a barely audible Johnny
Winter, towards the end of the 28-minute track.

In all, Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival isn't going to
make anyone forget about At Fillmore East, but it does provide a nice
glimpse into the world of a young and fiery band whose star was on the rise.

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