Life was good for The Allman Brothers. At Fillmore East had been a commercial breakthrough for the group. It was then recognized as one of the best live bands in the world and Duane Allman had ascended to the top rung of guitarists. Rolling Stone Magazine would place him at number 2 on its list of The Best Guitarists Of All Time.
Everything came to an abrupt halt when Duane climbed onto his motorcycle on October 29, 1971. Shortly after, he was dead as a truck came to a halt in his path. Keyboardist Berry Oakley would die just over a year later in a similar accident three blocks from Allman’s.
Producer Tom Dowd would assemble Eat A Peach from studio tracks recorded before and after Duane’s death, plus live material left over from the band’s last album. Eat A Peach was released on February 12, 1972. While it may not have been as consistent as some of its other releases due to its piecemeal approach, many of the songs when taken individually were brilliant and remain some of the strongest the band would produce. Just shy of four decades later, these tracks retain the brilliance and creativity that marked the original Allman Brothers Band.
The center of the album was the debut of the 33-minute live “Mountain Jam,” which has since been added to the extended CD reissues of At Fillmore East. The energy that is maintained for a half hour is amazing, as it provides an eternal document at just how good the band was at this point during its career. Duane Allman does what he was born to do, and that is playing the guitar. While all the members take solos, it is Duane who soars during the last 10 minutes.
The album’s first track, “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” was written before Duane Allman’s death. It was a fitting tribute, as it deals with thoughts about immortality. Dickey Betts steps forward as the one guitarist in a two-guitar band.
“Melissa” was a song co-written by Gregg Allman that dated back to his and Duane’s Hour Glass days. This old ballad has remained an important part of the group’s live show for decades.
“One Way Out” and “Trouble No More” are both classic blues tunes. They both are live performances and find the band in its comfort zone as it presents solid interpretations.
The final three tracks of the original double vinyl release were the last studio tracks featuring Duane Allman. “Stand Back” features Duane’s slide guitar technique and has a nice funky feel. “Blue Sky” is a Dickey Betts ballad, which contained his first lead vocal. Both he and Duane take solos. The album concludes with the only Duane Allman solo composition. The all to short “”Little Martha” is a wonderful acoustic piece featuring basically Duane and Dickey.
Eat A Peach brought the first phase of the band’s career to a close. There would be a lot more good music to come but it would not be the same.