Dickey Betts & Great Southern
Back Where It All Begins
[Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum]
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by John Metzger
In the wake of his unceremonious dismissal from the Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts could have succumbed to the personal and substance abuse problems that, at the time, seemed to pervade his life. Being a survivor, however, Betts not only delivered his first solo outing in more than a decade ó the wobbly but no less promising Letís Get Together ó but he also reconvened his band Great Southern for a series of sojourns across the country. Augmented with interview footage as well as an array of rehearsal and soundcheck performances, his latest effort Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum was recorded in September 2004, and its official release as a CD/DVD package undoubtedly is an attempt to prove that Gregg Allman needs him more than he needs Gregg Allman. Unfortunately, it isnít a terribly successful endeavor.
For starters, home video tends to magnify the mistakes and miscues that improvisational outfits such as Great Southern tend to make, and Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum has more than its share of ragged vocals and horribly off-kilter moments. On Statesboro Blues, for example, the collective attempted to swap the Allman Brothers Bandís seething intensity for a more down-home, barroom ambience, but the end result is somewhat of a letdown. Elsewhere, the group was utterly out of synch during a large portion of Blue Sky, while Rambliní Man was nearly a full-scale train wreck.
That said, Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum is hardly a total loss. Indeed, with the exception of drummer Frankie Lombardi, who simply lacks any semblance of finesse, Betts has assembled a mighty fine backing band that includes bass player Pedro Arevalo as well as Dan Toler, Great Southernís original guitarist. The ensembleís secret weapon, however, undoubtedly is keyboardist Mike Kach, and while he only passably replicated Gregg Allmanís gruff vocals on Statesboro Blues, he consistently provided the music with a jolt whenever it seriously needed it most. Even Rambliní Man, bad as it was, succeeded in concluding in a solid fashion with a suitably torrential assault of spiraling guitars. Bettsí snarling rendition of Robert Johnsonís Change My Way of Liviní and the collectiveís exploration of the title track as well as its playful romp through the joyous strains of Jessica fared significantly better. In the end, however, what Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum makes crystal clear is that the Allman Brothers Band and Dickey Betts really need each other ó if only so Betts can save his former partners from their increasing one-dimensionality and his former partners can save him from sloppy performances such as this. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum
is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box