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 Post subject: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 20, 2019 11:25 pm 
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I am going to start this thread and utilize this for the next album journey. I haven’t decide whether the thread the albums with Dylan here or do a separate Dylan run after this. I will decide as I go along I guess. Starting with Music From Big Pink...


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sat December 21, 2019 12:04 am 
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can't wait for this..


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sat December 21, 2019 1:57 pm 
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Music From Big Pink - it is kind of a funny change of pace to go immediately from the Beastie Boys to the Band, it somehow the segue into Tears of Rage worked because of the funky organ intro. My initial larger thoughts on this album focused on first that the songs are neither too short or too long, but times exceptionally well so that nothing feels forced or rushed, and nothing feels like it’s going on and on. Just well crafted songs. The other is that while there are exceptional musicians all, no one really much jams the spotlight or hordes over the songs. The music truly fits the band’s name. This albums hums along nicely until an abrupt, but welcome, blast of Chest Fever. They were operating at this perfectly balanced mix of mid to slow tempo songs and then bam! comes that organ blast. I love the classic songs on this album, including Tears of Rage, The Weight, Long Black Veil, and Chest Fever. A special mention needs to be made about I Shall Be Released - it is such a beautiful song that I can’t think of it fitting anywhere but the end of the album. If I were to include it in a mixtape or a playlist, it too would just have to be at the end as if there’s nothing more to say after that. The biggest revelation for me on this album would be This Wheel’s On Fire which is such a great song I didn’t pay enough attention to the first time I heard this album.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sat December 21, 2019 2:56 pm 
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The Band - wow. This is perfect American roots music. I have heard probably half this album but never went straight through and it was one of those experiences that is the exact reason I am doing these catalogue journeys. It’s definitely one of my favorites that I’ve heard through this. The obvious classics are great: Rag Mama Rag, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up on Cripple Creek are all just great songs. Across the Great Divide, When You Awake, Jemima Surrender, Rockin’ Chair, Look Out Cleveland, Jawbone, Unfaithful Servant, and King Harvest are just as great as those classics - yes, I’ve basically named the whole album. It’s just so well paced, and the delivery exceptional. Hell, even the outtakes that I am listening to with alternate versions as I write this are indicative of a near perfect band.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sat December 21, 2019 4:43 pm 
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I am never sure how The Band isn't more well known and appreciated. The three album run of The Basement Tapes, Music From The Big Pink and The Band rivals any band's for scope, quality, impact, influence and pure listener enjoyment. I almost wish you had started this run of reviews with The Basement Tapes. That's where the band starts for me.

Music From The Big Pink almost never gets mentioned in great debut album lists but that's what it is, great. It seamlessly takes you on a journey. Tempos ebb and flow. The musicianship shines without the songs ever becoming slaves to it. There's a relaxed feeling that is only highlighted by having four good to great singers and the ability to harmonize in ways that make you think you're sitting on a back porch, listening to good friends sing. The one, two punch of Long Black Veil into Chest Fever is beautiful in it's depths. They nail arrangements on every song. Lonesome Suzie would be filler in the hands of any other band but The Band pulls you in and leaves you hanging on every note and word. As Liebzz mentioned, I Shall Be Released can only close the album and it's a stunner.

The Band, there was no sophomore slump. It is as near to perfection as you can get. The only album that I think surpasses it as being closer to perfection beginning to end is Dark Side of the Moon. There's not much I can say about this album, it's music for the ages. It somehow surpasses Music From The Big Pink, and does so effortlessly. Taken out of context of the album I wouldn't rate any song less than an 8.5 on 10. Within the album, every song is a 10. They all have their place and purpose.

Looking forward to the rest of this series.

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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sat December 21, 2019 6:08 pm 
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I didn’t start with the Basement Tapes thinking maybe I would at some point in the relative near future so a Dylan run.

I’m with you on the albums you talked about so far as well...

Stage Fright - this is a very good album, even if it isn’t quite the first two. The highs reach some of the same heights as the other albums but some of the songs, while still good are not quite as good. It takes a tremendous effort to reach those first two. Strawberry Wine, Time to Kill, Just Another Whistle Stop, The Shape I’m In, The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show, Stage Fright, and The Rumor are all excellent if not very different. There’s a bit less Americana flavor going on and it’s more straight forward, but when they hit the mark, they really do a great job.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sun December 22, 2019 8:18 pm 
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Cahoots - this is likely the initial sign of some decline, but there’s plenty of solid stuff here. There is just something not as thrilling as the prior three albums. That said, Life Is a Carnival, When I Paint My Masterpiece, and 4% Pantomime would likely make any best of playlist from me. The rest to me seems good enough. Not chalked you to filler but not really standout in the way that everything worked on The Band or Music From Big Pink.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Tue December 24, 2019 3:14 pm 
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Bonus!

Rock of Ages - folks, this is one of the finest live albums I have ever heard. Yes, the Last Waltz rightly gets the attention as the final performance of the original lineup with all those guests, but this one is beyond phenomenal. I would say what songs I liked but that would mean just listing the track list. Every song is expertly delivered, and this includes the expanded edition from 2002 with the closing Dylan quartet of songs. It starts out with the Band introduction indicating that they were including “horn men” for the first time, then it’s just one flawless performance after the next. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down>Across the Great Divide is just nuts. Rag Mama Rag, Life is a Carnival...it’s just one great song after the next, like they handpicked my favorites and just had a blast. The feeling across the live album is almost like them sitting in a circle playing in a living room for each other, and it’s almost a surprise to here a crowd cheering at the end of the songs because the performances feel intimate and immediate.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Tue December 24, 2019 11:03 pm 
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Moondog Matinee - this is a very solid album of spirited covers. Seems like often these sorts of things fall apart with most bands, but the Band takes care on each cover to provide their take and never feels a slave to originals. My favorites here were Ain’t Got No Home, Holy Cow, Mystery Train, The Promised Land, I’m Ready, Saved, and Didn’t It Rain, with an honorable mention for the well drawn out A Change is Gonna Come. Mostly they were at their best uptempo here.

Edit: listened through the expanded edition and Going Back to Memphis might be the best cover here. Endless Highway is pretty great as well.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Thu December 26, 2019 12:58 pm 
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Northern Lights-Southern Cross - this first album of new material in 4 years is an up and down affair. The classics here are The Band at or near their best, particularly Ophelia. It Makes No Difference and Acadian Driftwood are the other 2 classics I am referencing, both also excellent. Of note on this album are the song’s expanded run times, which give them a little more room to breathe. The only downside is really that the songs are not as strong as those first three albums are were so exceptional.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Thu December 26, 2019 2:26 pm 
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Islands - I did not expect much from this given that it’s a collection of b-sides and covers but I was happily surprised. Not much in the way of essential stuff but nearly all of it good. Street Walker, Let the Night Fall, Ain’t That A Lot of Love, The Saga of Pepote Rouge, Georgia On My Mind (still solid even if it doesn’t meet the power and energy from this cover on Rock of Ages), Livin’ in a Dream, and Twilight are all you excellent, but my favorite here was Knockin’ Lost John which really brought me back to those early albums. I read somewhere that Robbie Robertson compared this to Odds N’ Sods. Not nearly that great, but solid nonetheless.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 12:10 pm 
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Jericho - fast forward 16 years and the Band is back, without Robbie Robertson. The albums starts strong enough with Remedy, Blind Willie McTell, and a strong cover of Springsteen‘a Atlantic City...but then that’s pretty much it. The rest of the album they seem mostly a shell of their former selves and fill in songs with weird sound effects that are so awful they make the songs sound like parodies of The Band. The album closer, Blues Stay Away From Me, is pretty good though.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 2:02 pm 
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High on the Hog - this was a step up for them, even if it is mostly cover songs. Stand Up, Back to Memphis, Forever Young, The High Price of Love, Crazy Mama, Ramble Jungle (which is quite good), and the bonus track Young Blood are all worth the listen. This is still the Band at a shade of its former self, and maybe it’s the stronger production, but definitely superior to Jericho.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 2:08 pm 
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Bonus!

Live at Watkins Glen - I listened through this first and then sort of looked up a description to see when it was recorded. So on the listen it’s a great reminder on how essential The Band was at a given time. The live versions generally blow away their studio counterparts, particularly on Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever, Don’t Ya Tell Henry, Time to Kill, The Rumor, and Up On Cripple Creek. Then you get the breakdown of this and it feels like you were fooled. Only the interludes Too Wet to Work (a 2 minute organ jam) and Jam were actually recorded at the concert, Back to Memphis and Endless Highway are outtakes with crowd noise overdubs, and the rest live versions from a hodge podge of places. Why bother? At least the music itself feels good.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 9:26 pm 
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Moondog Matinee is a great covers album(Richard Manuel has a great vocal on The Great Pretender).


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 10:51 pm 
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rick malone wrote:
Moondog Matinee is a great covers album(Richard Manuel has a great vocal on The Great Pretender).


Agreed. I didn’t mention that song in particular because I was more drawn to the ones I mentioned but most everything was really good.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Fri December 27, 2019 10:54 pm 
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Jubilee - this album sounds like an attempt to cross country with New Orleans style jazz funk and unfortunately it sounds like a bland version of either. The songs don’t really stick out to me, except maybe Kentucky Downpour but that’s not even approaching their previous work. Some albums you never want to end when you do these album journeys and others you struggle not to change the songs. This is pretty much the latter. Feel free to disagree, but there’s just nothing to this one for me.

Going to finish this journey appropriately with a listen through the super deluxe version of The Last Waltz.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sun December 29, 2019 7:46 pm 
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The Last Waltz - by any measure this concert is a behemoth of a show. Dylan, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters and a whole crew of others chip in to a show that featured turkey dinners for all attendants and purportedly the Band came to the stage at 9:15 and left at 2:00 am or later. The only flaw with this is they didn’t release the whole show. The show itself as presented is epic and reminds me why given the choice, I would rather see one tremendous show from one band than the festival style shortens sets by a lot of bands. The rehearsal stuff on the extended boxed set is also solid. The rest I could take or leave compared to one of the all time great concerts, and a fitting way to end my run on The Band.


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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Sun December 29, 2019 8:29 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Band
PostPosted: Mon December 30, 2019 12:49 pm 
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My wrap up for The Band. I would say that while their catalogue is at times a mixed bag, it is predominantly excellent, and the live stuff is scorching. Seems like one of those secretly one of the greatest in terms of their sheer talent, and it came out on the page nearly perfectly in the beginning. The end was a sort of sad tale of a band unable to really carry on without a key piece.

Essential listening: The Band, Music From Big Pink, Stage Fright, Rock of Ages, The Last Waltz

Still very good: Moondog Matinee, Islands

Worth a listen: Cahoots, High On the Hog, Live at Watkins Glen

Skip: Jubilee, Jericho


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