Everything is right...and wrong with the latest Allman Brothers Band release.
This is likely to be the last new release of an Allman Brother's recording with founding member Richard Betts in tow. Betts was unceremoniously fired from the band earlier this year, prompting this critic to wonder how the founding member of a band can be fired. Moreover, how that member who contributed "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", "Blue Skies", "Jessica", and "Ramblin' Man", the only true commercial success the band has ever had, could be let go. That is all an aside, there is a lot of music on this latest ABB release, and all of it is live.
The majority of material on Peakin' at the Beacon was derived from the bands first three studio recordings, with "Seven Turns" (from 1990s Epic release by the same name) and "High Falls", a 27 plus minute Betts instrumental work out from 1975's bathetic Win, Lose, or Draw (Polydor 531263). It is all capably if not a bit stiffly played. New to the band are Derek Trucks on guitars, who has obviously done his homework on the AAB (as his uncle is Butch Trucks) and Oteil Burbridge on bass. Added also was percussionist Marc Quinones. Together, this current band comes closest to the ABB sound of the early 1970s that any other assembly, including the one with the late Allen Woody and Warren Hayes. Trucks provides a fat and precise slide guitar best in evidence on "Stand Back". He lacks the white-hot fire of Duane Allman but is a more competent slide guitarist that Warren Hayes. Trucks' interplay with Betts is empathetic and inspired. Oteil Burbridge comes closer to that old ABB sound than anyone does also. "High Falls" with its pregnant bass chording, forces one to recall "Mountain Jam".
This disc leaves the stalwart listener with the dilemma of the band losing another arm while growing into what looks like a very interesting group. I choose to look forward to the release of the Dickey Betts Band's first recording Let's Get Together (Free Falls 7017, 2001) and the future ABB releases. I will forgive the band for now.
Personnel: Gregg Allman: Keyboards, Vocals; Richard Betts: Guitars; Derek Trucks: Guitars; Jaimoe: Drums; Butch Trucks: Drums; Marc Quinones: Percussion; Oteil Burbridge: Bass.