Monday, August 5, 2013


Nothing like a well-done deluxe edition, and this one uncovers a full second disc of previously-unreleased material.  Good stuff, too.  That right there tells you it's worth the upgrade.  And the better bonus is that this is an album you may not have checked out in awhile, and it holds up very well.

Brothers And Sisters came out when the band were still reeling from the loss of their founder and leader Duane Allman.  They had cobbled together the Eat A Peach set from various live and studio sources, but this was going to be the first one completely done with Duane involvement.  Their second tragedy struck when bass player Berry Oakley was killed the same way, in the same area, after a motorcycle crash.  Just a couple of cuts had been recorded, so once again they had to regroup, bringing in Lamar Williams.  But the major music change had happened when Allman had been replaced not with another guitar player, but rather with a piano guy, Chuck Leavell.  It was a much different sound for the group, with piano leads and fills, if anything a tighter sound than the Duane years, more song-oriented.

Dickie Betts stepped up to the plate to contribute four of the seven songs here, including the group's biggest-ever hit, Ramblin' Man.  His instrumental Jessica was another show-stopper, as he proved his worth as the new lead guitar player.  Gregg Allman was delivering as well, his Wasted Words a rough-edged blues that showed the group hadn't lost their bite.  Allman's growling vocals and organ were another unique feature of the group, strengths they could turn to after losing so much.  They were rewarded with a number one album.

The second disc is a bit different than most bonus bonanzas, being made up mostly of studio rehearsal cuts, some with Oakley and some with Williams.  Some of these were meant to warm up the cuts they'd be recording, others were rehearsals for stuff they'd take on the road, and a couple were jams for fun.  So we get an early, no-vocals version of album standout Southbound, but with Oakley on it, done just before his death, the song later fully recorded with Williams.  A couple of old live favourites are run through for the benefit of Leavell, who would soon have to do them on the road.  There's also a true out-take from the album, an Allman number called Early Morning Blues, dropped at the last minute from the album proper.  I hadn't heard this set in at least 20 years, so this was a grand way to get back into it, a better album than I remembered.  A four-CD box is also available, featuring a full two-disc concert from 1973.

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