Brothers And Sisters (Deluxe Edition)

The Allman Brothers Band

Mercury, 2013

http://www.allmanbrothersband.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/2013

The Allmans’ last great album for a long time, Brothers and Sisters came on the heels of a band member’s death, the second in a year. This time around, it was bassist Berry Oakley, who died in a motorcycle crash in nearly the same spot as Duane Allman in 1971.

Deciding again to carry on, the remaining Allmans recruited some new personnel (Chuck Leavell on piano and Lamar Williams on bass, plus a new producer) and decided to hunker down, crafting a follow-up to Eat A Peach. It’s no surprise the music went in somewhat of a new direction, favoring a country flavor instead of the straight blues approach so synonymous with the band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Although the approach netted a #1 hit in “Ramblin’ Man” and the band’s best-selling album to date, the new direction feels at odds with the original intent spelled out by Duane and Gregg. On the other hand, perhaps change is inevitable, especially when two of the creative visionaries are no longer around, but it still makes this a bit of a labored album that is missing part of its soul.

The Deluxe Edition of this album clarifies the situation and is preferred for those who maybe have written this disc off as two hits and some decent filler. The second disc features nine jams, rehearsals and outtakes recorded for this album, and nearly every song is a blues rock number, a genre in which the Allmans had no peer. Studio versions of “One Way Out” and “Trouble No More” remind you how great this band really was, while the 16-minute “A Minor Jam” is too much of a good thing, exactly the sort of piece the band specialized in during their live shows and proof that they could carry on without Duane.

The long “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town” is a fantastic piece, breaking in new pianist Leavell and showing the pure joy of playing music with kindred spirits. An early take on “Southbound” with no vocals and a version of Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” are solid, as is Gregg Allman’s “Early Morning Blues,” which was supposed to be on the first edition of the album but was replaced with the cover of “Jelly Jelly,” and don’t ask me why.

Although Brothers and Sisters remains a decent album, especially “Jessica,” it always seemed to lack something, which was perhaps inevitable after a second major loss so soon after the first one. The Deluxe Edition shores up what the album was lacking and is well worth owning for fans and those who want to dig beyond the two hits.

Rating: B

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