Do we really need another live double CD by the Allman Brothers Band? Oh yeah. In fact, when they play this well, we need them in droves. This collection marks the second time the Allman Brothers have issued music from their storied shows at the Beacon Theater in New York. The first, Peakin' at the Beacon, was issued in 2000 with Dickey Betts and Derek Trucks in the lineup. Betts had not yet been fired and Warren Haynes was yet to return to the fold. While Betts is a singular voice and is one of the pillars of the ABB's sound, this new version of the band with Trucks and Haynes manning the guitars has gelled into a formidable unit; in fact, they are something spectacular. Add to the fact that Gregg Allman is singing and playing better than at any time in his life (and Haynes is no slouch either), and you have the best live band in the world, bar none.
A great deal of today's Celtic music has ventured far from its roots, adding a wash of new age keyboards and heavenly harmony. Fortunately for hardcore traditionalists, singers and musicians like Andy Irvine stick closer to their acoustic roots. Even when Irvine writes his own songs, they retain a strong flavor of traditional music. Way Out Yonder is a lovely album comprised of a number of ballads and jigs, and filled with good singing and fitting arrangements. Irvine adds words to the "The Girl I Left Behind," a song of love, betrayal, and reborn love. An American version of this piece, "Forsaken Love," ends in suicide, so this more upbeat version, while still melancholy, is refreshing. "Gladiators" covers the biography of one Tom Barker, a radical union worker (a Wobbly) from Australia who fought against conscription during WW I. "They'll Never Believe It's True/Froggy's Jig" conjures up Irish folklore in the form of faeries dancing, while the title cut is a lively Bulgarian jig with some nice harmonica work by Brendan Power. Many of the songs on Way Out Yonder are long because Irvine likes to spin a yarn, and fortunately for the audience, he's good at it. The acoustic guitars and whistles underline the music perfectly.