The first three albums by the band 'Music From Big Pink'(1968), 'The Band'(1969) and 'Stage Fright'(1970) are three of my favorite albums ever. The first two are essential additions to any serious music collection, the third, an oft neglected companion to the much lauded debut and sophomore efforts.
This list of records would be legacy enough for most, but you can add to this numerous credentials that make The Band one of the most important groups of all time. The most obvious examples being their involvement with Bob Dylan, both as backing band (then The Hawks) on his first "electric" tour of the US and later their work with him on the legendary 'Basement Tapes'. Then being the center piece of the greatest live concert film ever committed to tape 'The Last Waltz', documenting their final show featuring the original Band lineup and a stellar list of guests including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris and The Staple Singers.
The original line up which spans 1967 to 1976 consisted of four Canadians: Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko, and one American, Levon Helm (There was a reunion of sorts (sans Robbie Robertson) in the eighties, but for now I am going to focus on the original line up).
Aside from the first three gems, the original line up of The Band released four other studio albums. Although none of which live up to the consistency and magnificence of the earlier records, all contain genuine highlights. 'Cahoots'(1971) has the Dylan composition "When I Paint My Masterpiece", as well as "Life Is a Carnival", "The River Hymn" and the Van Morrison collaboration "4% Pantomime". 'Moondog Matinee'(1973) is an eclectic covers album containing versions of originals by Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry and Leiber & Stoller amongst others. 'Northern Lights - Southern Cross'(1975) is a mixed bag, but does include some of The Band's finest recordings, most notably "Acadian Driftwood" and "It Makes No Difference". The Bands final studio album 'Islands'(1977) is probably the least rewarding in the groups cannon, with an apt title, as this is the sound of a group breaking up, not the coherent family heard on previous releases.
MP3: The Band - All La Glory
MP3: The Band - It Makes No Difference
The Band on Myspace
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