The Allman Brothers Band • Eat A Peach

Universal/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2102
Hybrid SACD



by John Crossett | April 7, 2015

he double-LP release Eat A Peach came at a pivotal and disheartening time for The Allman Brothers Band. One of the group’s founders, slide-guitar virtuoso Duane Allman, passed away from a motorcycle accident just before the taping of the album. Rather than scrapping the project, the remaining band members, including his surviving brother, Gregg, decided to make Eat a Peach a tribute to Duane. Thus, for the original double-LP issue, one side was made up of songs the remaining members had written for the album, and the balance was drawn from two different sources: a long jam Duane Allman recorded but never used before he died, and songs culled from the live Fillmore East concert. Eat A Peach is something of a mixed bag musically and a transitional album for the group itself.

The songs on side one feature guitarist Dickie Betts, who had been somewhat overshadowed by Duane Allman’s brilliance. His song "Sweet Melissa" is as beautiful as anything the group had recorded. The other three tunes showed that The Allman Brothers Band could continue as a reasonable facsimile of the former group, with Betts showing that his guitar talents, while not quite in the same league as Duane Allman’s, were still formidable. Side two had the long "Mountain Jam" that, while interesting to fans, was less than satisfying over repeated listens. The last two sides of the album were taken from outtakes not used for the band's Live at the Fillmore East. All of this material is a very good example of the original band live, raising the question why the cuts were left to be (possibly) never heard, but two really stand out. First is "Blue Sky" with Duane Allman and Betts taking turns providing guitar moments to remember on this lovely number. The second is an acoustic-guitar instrumental duet between Duane Allman and Betts, which really shows off the talent and distinction of the two guitarists.

This Mobile Fidelity release is the second time that Eat A Peach has seen the light of day as an SACD. Universal offered it a few years back when they were involved in an SACD release program. Owning that disc, I was interested in whether MoFi had improved on it. Sonically, the newer release offers a very clear and precise presentation. Listen to the opening guitar on "Sweet Melissa" and it’s easy to tell that it’s an acoustic guitar. You can tell that Betts’ fingers are plucking strings, which in turn are exciting the cavity of the acoustic guitar. A few moments later, Betts slides into the song (thanks to overdubbing) with an electric guitar, and the differences between the two guitars are clearly audible -- and profound. With the MoFi, the entire presentation is cleaner and clearer, the Universal sounding just the slightest bit muffled in direct comparison.

However, the Universal reissue does offer one thing that the Mobile Fidelity does not, and that is a multichannel track for those whose tastes run to surround sound. So it really comes down to the listener’s choice (and availability): the the out-of-print Universal disc for its multichannel presentation, or the easily obtainable and sonically superior MoFi stereo disc.

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