Dickey Betts & Great Southern

November 22, 2005

As one-half of the classic Allman Brothers’ guitar tandem, Dickey Betts’ place in history is secure. But you can’t help feel for the guy a little bit, as every time he sets foot onstage, there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room wearing a shirt that says, At Fillmore East. Thankfully, Back Where it All Begins shows that Betts can still bring it. Together with co-guitarist Dan Toler (who was a member of Betts’ Great Southern when they cut their eponymous 1977 album), they revive the twin-guitar beauty of Allman Brothers’ classics such as “Southbound,” “Statesboro Blues,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” and “Jessica,” more than ably. And when Betts gets it going, his bluesy modalities and sweet, chirping sound are unmistakable, and a joy to hear, as his tone (at least when he plays a Les Paul), hasn’t changed one bit. I do, however, miss the goading interplay between the players. Don’t get me wrong, Great Southern are a happening back-up band, it’s just that many of the song’s tempos are on the slow side, and, at times, Betts sounds like he could use a swift kick in the ass to take an improvisation to greater heights. Still, the DVD sports a sweet, expansive 5.1 mix, tons of bonus goodies, and a five-song audio CD that sports soundcheck versions of “Blue Sky” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” among others. Eagle Vision
—Darrin Fox

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