on May 24, 2003
It seems strange that the Allman Brothers' reputation has fallen off so much since the 1970's. While many of their contemporaries are still pretty highly regarded (Steely Dan, Neil Young, and Elton John among many others), ABB is in danger of becoming little more than a bad joke about pot smokers. Little enough has been written about "Brothers and Sisters" in this space that some younger readers might fail to realize that back in the day, this was a simply huge album, featuring not only the bona fide hit single "Ramblin' Man", but also one of the very finest instrumentals of the rock era, the effervescent "Jessica".
One reason for this is probably the rock fan's reluctance to accept country music, or even anything that hints at it. In some instances this may be mere prejudice towards products of "southern" culture, but more often it's probably just a side-effect of radio formatting tactics that try to separate the two forms rather than emphasize their (not insubstantial) commonalities. While not a real fan of country music myself, I see no reason to dislike any form of art out of sheer principle. It seems obvious that the more we can learn to appreciate (i.e., enjoy), the happier our lives will be.
That said, there's no question that the last couple of decades have not been kind to ABB's musical reputation, and a long string of weak releases hasn't helped any. That's a shame, because during their peak period, the Allmans created some fabulous music, including this excellent effort from 1973. "Wasted Words" and "Ramblin' Man" open the album with solid songwriting entries from both Greg Allman and Dicky Betts. While "Wasted" is not as strong a tune as some of Greg's earlier work, it still presents a heartfelt (or perhaps heartsick) personal statement. Still a staple of classic rock radio, "Ramblin' Man" features the trademark dual guitar lines, a tight little guitar solo, and some simple-but-effective dobro-work at the end. Greg Allman's commitment to the blues is represented by "Come And Go Blues", a funky progression with more personal introspection, and "Jelly Jelly" which is a much more traditional slow blues that will only appeal to the serious blues aficionado. "Southbound" is a much-underrated southern rocker, and "Jessica" is Betts' finest instrumental ever, and while his "Pony Boy" may seem too precious for some, it does have a certain playful charm.
Of course the real power of ABB is not in the songs themselves, but in the power of the playing, particularly in long instrumental solos, a tendency that is pretty much held in check here, presumably to keep the tracks radio-friendly. Rather than try to replace the irreplaceable guitar master Duane Allman, Chuck Leavell was brought in to play piano - a move that pays big dividends on this album. Like Duane, Leavell is simply a genius of his instrument: jazzy, playful, and melodic all at once. True, his music isn't as soulful as Duane's, but his solos possess that "hold onto your hat" quality that makes you want to hear them again and again until you know every note by heart.
The Allman Brothers' glory days are surely behind them now, but the musical legacy they've left behind is a truly impressive one that deserves to be preserved and honored forever. While this album is not quite up to their very best work ("Eat a Peach" is distinctly better), there's beautiful music here for any who can open their minds to it.
on April 13, 2002
Although I generally don't like country rock music, the Allman Brothers are just good, with enough alluring rock and blues to make me forget the country. However, Brothers and Sisters has more of a country flavor than other of their albums. "Ramblin' Man" is a good song but, as well as a classic, it is a classic radio-tired song. Not to knock it, for people know that. I also like "Southbound," straight blues and fast-paced, strong musically, zippy soloing. The rest, to be honest, doesn't interest me except...
Yes, I think Dickie Betts has the stronger entries on the album. And yes, the reason I am writing this review is because of "Jessica." Betts may have composed it with his little daughter in mind, but boy, it is about all of us. Musically brilliant, but can anyone think of a WARMER song, country rock or otherwise? Rich in texture and spirit, it exudes brightness and optimism. Chuck Leavell's piano jamming hardly falls short of Betts' brilliant guitar, either, and the organ glows in the background. It is the Allmans' acme, apologizes to Duane, and simply one of the best things ever written. Certainly, "Jessica" alone justifies getting Brothers and Sisters. And if you like the Allmans' country style more than I, there is more reason.
on November 30, 2000
Ok, no duane. no berry. but man! what an album. Jessica is the best song i have ever heard. ramblin man is...ramblin man, also one of my all time (top 3) favorites. Southbound rocks in a way that only the band that brought one way out, jessica, ramblin man, and mountain jam can. every other song is very very good filler material, but not quite to the extent that the three previous studio albums were. this album has some of the best songs the allmans ever came out with, but they are quite different than the original band, more country than their earlier blues period-when duane was around. this is a MUST HAVE for an allman brothers fan, but after you get "eat a peach", "beginnings", and "the fillmore concerts". Overall, it is their fourth best album, but better than 99% of the stuff that other bands put out.
i say that this is the new allmans at their peak because they will use this style for the next decade and a half. when they reemerge in the 1990's, they go back to their blues roots, though it is not as good as anything they made before 1975.
on September 24, 2000
I enjoy the music on this album very much. Duane Allman had been the leader of this band until his untimely death. His brother, Gregg was left to pick up the pieces and keep the band going. In addition, Berry Oakley died during the making of this album, appearing on only the first two tracks. Against such adversity the band develops one of the defining albums of 1973. Gregg Allman really does hold his own with superb playing and by contributing two great songs true to the tradition of the Blues. JELLY, JELLY is a soulfull tune influenced by T Bone Walker and the Chicago Blues. It is Richard "Dickey" Betts who really comes up with the goods by stepping forward with a bona-fide hit, RAMBLIN' MAN, and the remainder of the songs as well as playing guitar which now defines Southern Rock. Whether he is playing Dobro in the style of the Mississippi Blues Singers on PONY BOY, or a firey lead on SOUTHBOUND, trading licks with Les Dudek while singing on RAMBLIN' MAN, it is Betts who defines the sound of this Allman Brothers' CD. JESSICA is possibly one of the best travelling songs ever written, and it is Dickey Betts' melodic, distinctly southern guitar playing that will stick in my mind as I fondly remember this CD. Anything else I would write would just be WASTED WORDS. If you are interested in US Southern Rock of the early seventies, or in great guitar music which is based on American Folk Blues, this CD will be interesting to you.
on May 30, 2001
this cd is one of my top 3 allman brothers albums. every type of music the allmans have played thru their career is on this cd. straight out southern rock (ramblin man) blues (come and go blues) a classsic instumental (jessica). their trademark trading guitars are not here (this was the first studio album without duane allman) but chuck leavell does more than excellent trading with dicky betts. no, its not duane and not the same, but it works. listen to it straight thru and you will find an excellant work. (just in case you didn't know what happened to chuck leavell, he is now the rolling stones pianist)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This set is freggin awsome. We start of with the remastered "Brothers and Sisters". An improvement over last reissue but not night and Day better. Anyone who has heard this CD knows how great this Album is so I won't even get into that.
The second CD is rehearsals, demo's and out takes. Interesting Disc and an excellence way to hear the Allmans at there last peak before a pile of crappy ones. Well at least until the reformed in the 80's. Those records are amazing as well.
Disc's 3 & 4 are a live show from that tour. Not Live at the Fillmore but pretty close to it. It's also interesting hearing them with just one guitar player. Since this was recorded for a radio broadcast by KSAN a radio station that recorded a lot of different bands the sound is excellent.
The box itself is pretty cheaply made. But it does have good liner notes and great photos.
All I can say is I am glad I bought it!!
on March 17, 1999
My wife and one year old son and I will place this CD in the car's changer and go on off to the hills with great joy. Jessica is one of those songs that elevates you and makes you glad to be alive without ever resorting to lyrics. The rest of the CD is also great, but Jessica playing, the wind going through your hair, your loving wife next to you and a beautiful son looking at you through the rear-view mirror, man, that's heaven.
on October 13, 1999
These guys are just such proficient musicians, in addition to providing a unique, southern flavor to rock and roll and giving those young people, (at the time of its release, that is), a unique opportunity to have an appreciation of some old blues tunes that created the foundation for rock and roll to come about. This album introduces that lineage quite well. Get the best rock and roll album of all time. Cool or what?
on July 27, 1999
I agree with the reviewer from Virgina...Jessica is THE ultimate "drivin' on the open road" song. Nothing better than the windows wide open and Jessica playing good and loud. I thought it was great that "Field of Dreams" used Jessica for Costner's drive from Iowa to Boston. It just seemed so...right.
I like this album more now than I did when it first came out. Time has a way, y'know?
on November 7, 2002
This is the one!
What a great emotional, rewarding, musically brilliant album.
Everyone who I play it to somehow feels something special is happening.
Not a bad track on it.
'Jessica' would have to be the highlight track.
It's a shame there isn't any out-takes from these sessions at this time considering the amount of Re-Mastered CDs that are coming out with extra tracks.