Gregg Allman - organ, piano, acoustic guitar, vocals; Dickey Betts - guitar, vocals; Warren Haynes - guitar, vocals; Allen Woody - bass; Jai Johanny Johanson - drums, percussion; Butch Trucks - drums; Marc Quinones - congas, percussion
Following a nearly seven-year hiatus from touring as The Allman Brothers Band, when founding members Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts pursued individual projects, the group re-formed in 1989. After years of turmoil, personnel changes and the extended hiatus, they would return to surprise nearly everyone who heard them. With new members, guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody on board, the group would begin scaling new heights, rocking harder than ever before and delivering two impressive albums: 1990's Seven Turns followed by Shades Of Two Worlds in 1991, which contained their strongest new material since the band's heyday in the early 1970s.
Although turmoil and dissension would eventually set in again, when the band hit the road following the release of Shades Of Two Worlds, the chemistry between Haynes and Betts was at its apex. Not only did the band's performances contain plenty of masterful guitar playing, but the group sound was reinvigorated and often matched the intensity and brilliance of the original lineup.
Recorded on a Saturday evening at the Cal Expo Amphitheater in Sacramento, this high quality Bill Graham Presents recording captures The Allman Brothers Band applying their formidable skills to both new and classic older material, in addition to exploring acoustic material in the middle of this lengthy performance.
Following a solid warm-up exercise of "Statesboro Blues", the initial five song electric sequence of this show places a heavy emphasis on new material, beginning with "End Of The Line," the tough hard rockin' Allman/Haynes/Woody songwriting collaboration that kicked off the newest album. Featuring a gritty lead vocal from Allman and sizzling guitar work from Haynes and Betts, this conveys a band playing with a newfound sense of authority. Three Dickey Betts numbers follow, beginning with his bright country-rocker "Blue Sky," showcasing he and Haynes trading guitar solos to excellent effect. Another track from Shades Of Two Worlds is next with Betts' "Nobody Knows" providing an opportunity for the band to stretch out a bit and jam, before tackling "Low Down Dirty Mean" from the Seven Turns album. Gregg Allman turns in a superb organ and vocal performance on the latter and both of these numbers convey a confident band hitting their stride.
A delightful four song acoustic sequence follows, containing two classic songs in stripped down form, as well as two great covers that brother Duane Allman recorded with Delaney & Bonnie two decades prior. With Gregg Allman now on acoustic guitar, this sequence begins with a lovely reading of "Melissa, " with Allman's ragged vocals conveying extra weight and sadness. Featured on the Shades of Two Worlds album, Robert Johnson's blues classic, "Come On In My Kitchen" is next, followed by the vintage Allman composition, "Midnight Rider," before they conclude the acoustic portion with "Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad."
When the electric material resumes, Warren Haynes demonstrates his command of blues guitar with a smoldering rendition of Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" before the band unveils two more new album tracks, beginning with the rare Betts/Haynes' collaboration, "Kind Of Bird." A nod to the brilliant saxophonist Charlie Parker, the entire band cooks on this jazzy instrumental and despite clocking in at eight minutes, it leaves one only wanting more. Next up is the Gregg Allman penned blues "Get On With Your Life," another strong new showing that provides Haynes and Betts the opportunity to improvise over its slow burning groove.
The remainder of the set primarily focuses on classic Dickey Betts' material, beginning with an epic "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" that clocks in at nearly half an hour of solid stratospheric jamming. Played at a slightly slower tempo, Betts' "Revival" remains as celebratory as ever and the buoyant instrumental "Jessica" flows for nearly fifteen minutes. Encapsulating everything that made the Allman Brothers Band so extraordinary, they wrap it up with Gregg's "Whipping Post." Despite being more concise than usual (approximately 10 minutes), this is a satisfying conclusion to a strong performance that conveys Warren Haynes and Allen Woody's lasting contribution to the band's legacy.
-Written by Alan Bershaw