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Some things never get old.
The music of The Allman Brothers is like that.
For five decades now their soulful mix of southern rock, blues, R&B, country and jazz has found an audience, striking a chord with generation after generation of fans with an appetite for extended, groove-driven jams.
Not even the deaths of founding members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, both of whom died in motorcycle accidents little more than a year apart in the early 70s, could keep the band from charting its course.
They were at one time one of the most influential bands in America, particularly for bands that hailed from their part of the country like The Marshall Tucker Band, Grinderswitch and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
And their influence extended for decades. Some industry scribes credit them for sparking the explosion of jam bands in the 90s.
A career that lasts as long as theirs is worth celebrating.
They think so too.
That’s why they’re releasing Trouble No More: The Complete 50thAnniversary Collection. The six-CD set, also available as a 10-LP set, is slated for official release Feb. 28 but can be ordered in advance now.
This massive, career-spanning retrospective brings together classic tracks, live performances from the Fillmore and The Beacon Theatre as well as outdoor festivals like Watkins Glen, plus rarities and seven previously unreleased tracks.
Included in those unreleased tracks is the 1969 demo for Trouble No More” recorded when Duane Allman, his brother Gregg, Butch Trucks, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley and Jaimoe first came together in the studio as a band.
That Muddy Waters song was, in fact, the group’s very first informal jam together and it was after playing that song they realized they had something.
You can stream that track right now on a number of digital music providers. Produced by Allman Brothers Band historians and aficionados Bill Levenson, John Lynskey and Kirk West this boxed set features some 61 tracks in total and effectively documents the band’s hefty legacy.
- On March 10, for one night only at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the brothers–Jaimoe, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones–joined by Duane Trucks, Reese Wynans and special guest Chuck Leavell will celebrate 50 years of the music of The Allman Brothers Band.
- This one-time concert event sold out immediately upon going on sale.
Included with the set is a booklet featuring an insightful nearly 9,000-word essay on the 50-year history of the band by Lynskey, unreleased band photos along with newly shot photos of memorabilia from the Big House Museum in the band’s adopted hometown of Macon, GA.
There’s also a recap of the 13 incarnations of the band lineup. All recordings have been newly mastered by Jason Nesmith at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, Ga. and the sound is wicked. The music is arranged chronologically and thematically and represents all 13 lineups.
They’ve grouped the music into five distinct eras, representing the various stages of the band’s recording and performance history, divided by the group's stints on the Capricorn, Arista and Epic labels, as well as the band's own Peach imprint.
One gem follows another pretty much from the first record to the last. Early tracks like Don’t Want You No More, It’s Not My Cross to Bear, Whipping Post, and the legendary live version of Stormy Monday from At the Fillmore sounds as good now as it did when I first them.
That’s pretty much the story all the way through. While the line-up had numerous changes and each brought something new to mix the essence of the band remained the same through the years. Guitarists like Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring shared the same adventurous spirit that founding guitarist Duane Allman had.
I think that explains in part why the band’s fans have remained so loyal. Longtime fans of the band should really think about investing in this set.
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.