A pre-Fillmore East set that captures the original band’s improvisational live high-wire act.

The Allman Brothers Band

Fillmore West ’71

Six weeks before cutting their classic At Fillmore East, the legendary Allman Brothers lineup held the middle slot on a weekend triple bill at promoter Bill Graham’s Fillmore West. Those shows were recorded and tucked away until now. And while the sound quality is similar to a really good bootleg board recording, with occasional imbalances in the mix and hints of mud or fizz, it’s a pleasure to dig into 26 song performances on four CDs. Not just to enjoy Duane and Dickey’s interplay—although it’s grand, revealing a deeper layer of grit in their tones and lots of on-the-fly explorations (Duane’s magic-wand slide! Dickey’s mean-ass blasting!)—but to hear how the best ensemble rock band of the era improvised within the framework of their durable repertoire every night. In that respect, it’s a playbook for performing guitarists.

Must-hear tracks: “You Don’t Love Me” (1/31/71 and 1/29/71), “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” (1/29/71), “Dreams” (1/29/71)

Here’s “Trouble No More” from Fillmore West ’71, providing a sonic-warts-’n’–all preview of the newly released four-CD set. What’s absolutely clear is the quality of Duane Allman’s and Dickey Betts’ performances.

Need to buy a new bass? Start here.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less