The Band.

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as in the guys who backed bob dylan etc. you know the story.

is there already a thread? you can imagined what happened when i did a title search for "the band"? (they are cursed in that way, much like the band "love." perhaps they should invent special search strings for such bands...)

thinking about them (again) this week because i skimmed the most recent copy of the wire, and saw a joe boyd interview in which boyd confirmed what i had long suspected, that the band (the band "the band") and especially their second record helped to define a certain subgenre of rock music which i suppose can be called "rootsy"--not just in attitude but also in their specific approach to recording and mixing which was (oh! inverted world) quite modern by most standards, making careful use of stereo and in certain cases utitilzing quite modern equipment (synthesizers, fancy mics) to obtain an "old fashioned" sound. but it's the overall sound-presence of that LP that i feel, instinctively, was quite crucial as an influence not just on the british folk-rock guys but by succeeding generations of likeminded musicians and producers in england, america, canada, etc.

can you guys help to pin this down further for me?


amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 19:56 (seventeen years ago) link

I think they're one of those bands whose noted influence (ha where is mark s) appeals to me more than them themselves. It's no stretch to say that the Walkabouts, of whom am I thoroughly and completely fond, had them as a partial role-model -- but I'd rather listen to the Walkabouts any day of the week.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 19:58 (seventeen years ago) link

this is like the third time you've responded in such a fashion--"i like them, but the walkabouts do it better"

that's not a criticism

i haven't been terribly excited by the walkabouts stuff i've heard, but maybe i should listen again

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:07 (seventeen years ago) link

i can't stand bob dylan. but i love the band... why is this?

cutty (mcutt), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:09 (seventeen years ago) link

atrophying of brain tissue?

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:11 (seventeen years ago) link

I think the influence on 50s-60s r&b and soul isn't given enough props in most writings about The Band. I think those influences are as important as the stripped down folk/country part of their sound.

earlnash, Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:12 (seventeen years ago) link

that's not a criticism

It could simply be a reflection of a private passion, but at their best the Walkabouts synthesize so much in such a striking way that I'm in quiet awe (and consequently frustrated at how other bands in theoretically similar veins just don't work as well).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:12 (seventeen years ago) link

Just to clarify, it should read "the influence of..." not "influence on".

earlnash, Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:15 (seventeen years ago) link

First two records are so great & the soul thing is their most interesting quality. I can't think of any band ever that connects the dots so well between black soul and white country.

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:20 (seventeen years ago) link

i thought you were going to make a revolutionary argument about he influence of robbie robertson's guitar style on curtis mayfield which relied on new theories of the time space continuum formulated in quantum physics


amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:22 (seventeen years ago) link

"atrophying of brain tissue?
-- amateur!st"

no i would attribute it to bob dylan's horrendous voice

cutty (mcutt), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Charlie Rich is an interesting one-man equivalent, though. (Not to Amateurist's equation, admittedly.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:22 (seventeen years ago) link

no i would attribute it to bob dylan's horrendous voice

Ah, friend!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:23 (seventeen years ago) link

oh i'm floating in a sea of fools baaaaby

charlie rich seemed genuinely uncomfortable with genre categories and that hampered his music as much as it helped it i think

the band were without doubt a 'rock' band--whether or not thats endemic of the time in which they were recording, they were comfortable with the label

but yes i agree that mixture of sensibilites is really exciting

better still that the soul influence and country influence is somehow sublimated in such a fashion where it becomes exceptionally difficult to parse the songs for evidence of discrete influence

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:27 (seventeen years ago) link

more like "the Bland"

Gear! (Gear!), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:32 (seventeen years ago) link

no wait, I like them.

Gear! (Gear!), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 20:33 (seventeen years ago) link

'First two records are so great & the soul thing is their most interesting quality. I can't think of any band ever that connects the dots so well between black soul and white country.'

Yep that's it. Let's face it the 'grizzled old-timer' thing wouldn't have lasted. It's the extraordinary blend of soul, country, funk, rock n roll, wurlitzer/jug-band weirdness, and it all sounds uncalculated.

pete s, Tuesday, 10 February 2004 21:56 (seventeen years ago) link

i guess they're interesting in that they were mostly canadians getting deeper into americana than americans. i love both the big pink building shot and the family portrait album covers. I think they were trying to create a "what if the beatles never happened" musical scenario ... drawing a line between The Sun Sessions and 1969... CCR were a more punk rock version of the same idea. other than "basement tapes" i find them a little stiff.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 22:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Heh Amateurist not only is there another Band thread you were the last person to post to it!

Classic Or Dud: The Band

Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Tuesday, 10 February 2004 22:12 (seventeen years ago) link

The Band were so funky. White man's funk.

Debito (Debito), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:13 (seventeen years ago) link

how embarassing, I said the same thing on the other thread.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:18 (seventeen years ago) link

"i thought you were going to make a revolutionary argument"

Well Aretha Franklin did record a great version of "The Weight".

earlnash, Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:24 (seventeen years ago) link

The phrase 'white man's funk' is sort of embarrassing, but they were funky.

Debito (Debito), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:25 (seventeen years ago) link

Take up the white man's funkness
Send forth the best ye stank

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Christ, they were good. Sad how they will never be again...
The Band=classic
Drugs and depression=dud

Speedy Gonzalas (Speedy Gonzalas), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 04:39 (seventeen years ago) link

Because they sounded out of tune so often while backing Dylan, I fell in love with them. It was like they were playing for the amateurs in all of us.

jim wentworth (wench), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 06:06 (seventeen years ago) link

I like the Band lots, and Robbie is maybe the greatest guitar player ever who is not one of the greatest guitar players ever, but I don't often have much use for them. Why? Because they never made an album (alone at least) concomitant with their potential? How about because they're often a little too slow for music that moves? The gentility in their tunes is the source of a good part of their charm, but is inherently limiting, perhaps.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 06:31 (seventeen years ago) link

please don't throw rocks, but i always thought The Band was like the Grateful Dead in their least-inspired moments.

Orbit (Orbit), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 06:32 (seventeen years ago) link

They were, perhaps, out of sync. in many ways. I enjoyed their sound, but they didn't blow me away. I used to own a 3 record promo box set (Warner Bros.?) of The Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Steve Miller, and... gave it to a friend. Probably in exchange for a buzz. They made their mark with Dylan.

jim wentworth (wench), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 07:00 (seventeen years ago) link

please don't throw rocks, but i always thought The Band was like the Grateful Dead in their least-inspired moments.

There's a similarity in the vocals at times (I think Rick Danko is the most Garcia-like one?), but the Band never wanked off quite like the Dead...

"Music From the Big Pink" is just about perfect, the rest a bit hit-and-miss.

no opinion, Wednesday, 11 February 2004 07:13 (seventeen years ago) link

The Avalanches throw the uber-corny "Life is a Carnival" into their mixsets.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 07:18 (seventeen years ago) link

The Band are one of my parents' bands that I've never known where to get started with. (cf. Allman Bros., CCR)

"The Weight" is, of course, great - is it representative of the rest of their material. Can I just buy whatever album that's on and be set for a start?

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 07:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Since that album is "Music From the Big Pink," the answer is yes, buy it.

no opinion, Wednesday, 11 February 2004 07:27 (seventeen years ago) link

Only marginally on-topic, but I interviewed Levon Helm's daughter the other week. She's in this new gospel-rock outfit called Ollabelle. She was very nice and remarkably well adjusted ("remarkably" if you know anything about Levon Helm), spoke well of her dad. She's got a heck of a nice voice too, kind of a brassy R&B growl.

I like the Band a lot, but I admit I like them best on The Basement Tapes. Their first several albums are all classics, though. When I was a kid, I was always put off by their muddy, murky sound. Now that's one of the things I love about them.

spittle (spittle), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 08:10 (seventeen years ago) link

Several people otm here (mark (country/soul is spot on), pete, debito). Their albums were played a lot by my parents and I didn't hear them again until I bought Music from Big Pink two years ago. Listening to it got me hooked again right away, I remembered so much after ~15 years.

Yes miloauckerman, get Big Pink, it's awesome. I always found it much better than their self-titled second album, more diverse, less "reactionary" I suppose. "Life is a Carnival" from Cahoots is a party of a song, no wonder the Avalanches use it. Wouldn't qualify it as "corny" though...

willem (willem), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 08:36 (seventeen years ago) link

ned's post made me laugh like a schoolgirl (like ned flanders, as it were)

how embarassing, I said the same thing on the other thread.

i feel this doubly

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 09:50 (seventeen years ago) link

what i mean to say is that i'm doublt embarrassed for fritz

fritz, shame on you

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 09:51 (seventeen years ago) link

How do I fit in to this embarrassment?

Debito (Debito), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 10:15 (seventeen years ago) link

These accusations that The Band started 'retro-rock' or were concerned with 'authenticity' are wildly off-target, considering how much modern (at the time) stuff they absorbed into their sound. Others have mentioned synths and funky rhythm sections as proof that they weren't a bunch of burnt out hippies trying to be Doc Watson, but I also want to bring up the years with Ronnie Hawkins. When they had been playing fifties style rock & roll mixed with country and folk up through into the early sixties, why would they give up playing what they enjoyed doing and go psych? Seems like people want to blame them for not abandoning the direction of their entire career as a group, which would have produced much duller music than those first two albums.

And I can't believe you dissed "The Last Waltz" on the other thread, Matos - everybody knows the guest spots are mostly cack (they should have instituted a ban on performances by anyone named Neil) and Robbie was a douche, but "Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" should be proof enough that Fleetwood Mac AND Outkast together are not fit to lick Levon Helm's boots when it comes to adding brass bands to your sound for fun and profit(!!! Yeeeahh)

Dave M. (rotten03), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 10:33 (seventeen years ago) link

Oops, strike them parenthesis. < / Dean >

Dave M. (rotten03), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 10:34 (seventeen years ago) link

'The Band' is a perfect album... and 'whispering pines' is just about the most beautiful, desolate song i've ever heard in my life, it never fails to move me to tears. (i have an MP3 of elliott smith stumbling through it somewhere, and it is chilling)

stevie (stevie), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 10:52 (seventeen years ago) link

These accusations that The Band started 'retro-rock' or were concerned with 'authenticity' are wildly off-target

this isn't what i was trying to say, exactly; i was asserting (as i guess i had done on the other thread, but i forgot about that) that without having an ideological program necessarily they had a specific approach to arranging and recording and mixing which later became identified with a certain subgenre of rock music that is often called "rootsy"

i dunno about "authenticity" (a power word that doesn't really clear anything up) but robertson et al were certainly going for a certain "rooted" sense of americana, a music with a strong sense of history, and like ccr they were selfconsciously tapping into an existing mythology, adding to it besides (ccr was both more monomaniacal and i think even more successful in this regard)

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 12:31 (seventeen years ago) link

i contradicted myself

i guess there was a kind of low-key program at work, perhaps not charged with the reactionary values that much subsequent "rootsy" music has adopted but purposeful and willful nonetheless

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 12:32 (seventeen years ago) link

i dunno about "authenticity" (a power word that doesn't really clear anything up) but robertson et al were certainly going for a certain "rooted" sense of americana, a music with a strong sense of history, and like ccr they were selfconsciously tapping into an existing mythology, adding to it besides (ccr was both more monomaniacal and i think even more successful in this regard)

there's an interesting dynamic involved, however, that Barney Hoskins' Band book explored, that to the members of the Band, the cultures they were tapping in their music were both alien and natural to them, and the extent to which they were scholarly exploring these genres and musics, and simultaneously the closeness they felt to them (thinking mostly here of levon's arkansas roots). so their music was simultaneously an exercise in attempted authenticity, and imaginative explorations of genres they revered.

stevie (stevie), Wednesday, 11 February 2004 12:40 (seventeen years ago) link

five years pass...

lately i've been spinning 'Rockin' Chair' a lot - love the heartsick, pleading sound of manuel's vocals, the absence of drums, the entwined mandolin and guitar, and the way the lyrics shift between 'downhome' nostalgia and a kind of resigned dread: these lines are especially devastating

Hear the sound, Willie Boy,
The Flyin' Dutchman's on the reef.
It's my belief
We've used up all our time,
This hill's to steep to climb,
And the days that remain ain't worth a dime.

god i love the band soo much

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 12:43 (twelve years ago) link

Great song

Aw naw, no' Annoni oan an' aw noo (Tom D.), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 12:48 (twelve years ago) link

eight months pass...

so is this really the only thread? or just a impediment of searching "The Band"?

i've been rather obsessed lately, mostly w/ the first three records. but i'm thinking of digging around for the others on the cheap. challop: Stage Fright is every bit as good as the first two. "The Rumor" and "Sleeping" are heartbreakingly awesome.

and hey, anyone remember this POS?:

(will) (will), Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:30 (eleven years ago) link

certainly some of the most creative and breathtaking uses of time signature changes in rock/popular music imo.

(will) (will), Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:41 (eleven years ago) link

<3<3<3Levon @ 2:58 - "maybe they won't, you know i sure hope they don't"

(will) (will), Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:42 (eleven years ago) link

this other thread is mentioned above: Classic Or Dud: The Band
certainly some of the most creative and breathtaking uses of time signature changes in rock/popular music imo.
this is otm -- for being known as such a "down-home, authentic, straightahead" their songs are hard as fuck to play. i mean, there's straight up rockabilly, but also new orleans + appalachian + country rhythms going on, sometimes all in the same song.

tylerw, Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:57 (eleven years ago) link

weird that christgau would call the title track "one of the decade's great love songs" ... it's not really a love song. but it's a great record anyway.

tylerw, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:32 (three months ago) link

Another track from that album, "Tennessee Blues", quickly became a minor standard of sorts, getting early '70s covers by Doug Sahm and Tracy Nelson.

blue whales on ambient (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 25 June 2021 18:34 (three months ago) link

Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge too. Amazing tune.

"I Must Be In A Good Place Now" is fantastic as well.

tylerw, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:39 (three months ago) link

"Small Town Talk" was co-written by Charles and Rick Danko,whose version is on his own s/t. Xgau wanted Dusty Springfiled to cover it, and liked the vocal by Geoff Muldaur, on It All Comes Back, by Paul Butterfield's Better Days (Mulduar also contributed to Bobby Charles):

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:51 (three months ago) link

Danko's version! Louder, faster than expected. hey fuck that small town talk!

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 18:57 (three months ago) link

Boz Scaggs---verra nice, most intimate version, just him and his guitar:

dow, Friday, 25 June 2021 19:02 (three months ago) link

That Danko version!

Vin Jawn (PBKR), Friday, 25 June 2021 19:49 (three months ago) link

Watched the Once Were Brothers doc. Infuriating for the way it effectively tells the story of The Band as the story of Robertson plus collaborators. This guy just will not quit with the revisionism.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 25 June 2021 21:16 (three months ago) link

Or the story of Robertson plus irresponsible junkies. And some other guy.

Are Animated Dads Getting Hotter? (Tom D.), Friday, 25 June 2021 21:26 (three months ago) link

tbf I knew Manuel and Danko were fucked up, but I had no idea Levon Helm was on heroin too.

Are Animated Dads Getting Hotter? (Tom D.), Friday, 25 June 2021 21:27 (three months ago) link

The story goes that he'd shot up literally moments before cutting the vocal on "Strawberry Wine", which is why his voice sounds different there than in any other vocal he did.

blue whales on ambient (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 25 June 2021 21:51 (three months ago) link

History has told the story: the Robertson-less Band made a couple of decent records; and the first Danko record, and Helm’s Dirt Farmer, are superior to some ‘70s Band records.

Robertson on his own, however, has yet to make so much as a halfway-tolerable record. He can say what he wants about how he was the brains of the operation yadda yadda, but no Band or solo-Band-member record has anything as colossally awful as “American Roulette.”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 25 June 2021 21:57 (three months ago) link

JRR is obviously one of those vampire/chameleons who responds to and feeds off the energy of whoever he is around, which I guess is not really that rare tbh, but very well-defined in his case. He did pretty well with those guys when they were “just” alkies and not junkies or however you want to describe it. All the later long hard years of showbiz schmoozing clearly took a toll on his creative abilities.

Rich Valley Girl, Poor Valley Girl (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 June 2021 23:44 (three months ago) link

Looking at what they recorded after 1976/78, the truth really does seem like somewhere in-between, at least to me. The Robertson-less Band albums were almost painful in how disappointing they could be, but they had their moments, and except for Garth's solo instrumental "French Girls," the best ones weren't written by any of the original members. In fact, there are very, very few writing credits for Danko and Helm in general until you get to their last one, Jubilation (probably my least favorite one). Those later records lean heavily on covers. My favorites are "Blind Willie McTell," "Atlantic City," "She Knows" (I can't tell if they overdubbed the strings, which sound awful, but Richard's performance is beautiful), "Book Faded Brown"...all covers.

Levon's Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt (which I prefer to Dirt Farmer) are good records, but Levon doesn't have a lot of writing credits - it's mostly other people, great covers or traditional songs. I wasn't a fan of Rick's first album but that live bootleg of him and Levon from the early '80s is wonderful - they could still be great performers.

Robertson's didn't record as much, but his albums are mostly his own original compositions. I think the songs on his first album are wildly uneven - "American Roulette" and at least a few others really are terrible, but there are a few good songs elsewhere. More controversial is the production - kudos to Robertson for trying something different, but I was hoping for something more than asking Daniel Lanois to do for him what he did for Peter Gabriel and U2. Some people liked it - you can find effusive praise for his first album, and it had a strong placing in the Pazz & Jop poll - but I wonder how many of them would be so kind to it now. I guess his next one is a "better" album, it hangs together better, but I have no interest in revisiting it. Since then his albums have sounded like a string of failed attempts to do something new or contemporary.

I don't doubt Robertson was the main songwriter for the Band, at least within the legal parameters of what constitutes songwriting, but he really needed the fucking Band to make something of his compositions. The music really was a collaborative effort, it wasn't just a vehicle for Robertson's songwriting.

birdistheword, Saturday, 26 June 2021 05:15 (three months ago) link

Many, Many (seems like not quite all?) albs that members of The Band played on: I did not know about their friendship with Charles Lloyd during The Hawks' "Cannonball Adderly Period, or that Robertson seems to have played on at least a couple of his tracks---see, he could have gone back in that direction, or a similar one, as an instrumentalist, if he'd cared too, at least as a prestigious guest, now and then.But he's not that socialible, or maybe I just haven't read far enough.. Fave entry in early years:
The Bauls of Bengali were a family of itinerant street troubadours that Albert Grossman had met on a visit to India, and he invited them to stay in a converted barn in Bearsville in 1967. The brothers Luxman and Purna Das (that also can be seen posing with Bob Dylan on his John Wesley Harding album) became friends with the Band in Woodstock, and often visited them in Big Pink to inhale illegal substances and jam with the guys. One night, the Bauls wanted to jam, and Garth Hudson wanted to record, with Rick Danko and Levon sitting in with the Das brothers. The music was a bit too weird for the guys from the Band ("they were wailing in their own language, in their own world, Bubba"), so they left while Garth's tape machine rolled for hours. The tapes were released, years after, as Bengali Bauls at Big Pink.
-- extracted from Levon Helm's This Wheel's on Fire

[Dylan and the Bauls]
Luxman Das, Bob Dylan and Purna Das, on the cover of John Wesley Harding, 1967
Band guys can be heard saying "that's nice" after one track, they don't actually play. The album is produced by Garth Hudson. It was recorded in the basement of Big Pink on an Ampex 400 tape recorder using two Altec Lansing 1567A mixers with Norelco D-24 microphones. Engineered at A&R Studios, New York, by John Kryda. Purna Das of the Bauls also appears on Garth Hudson's 2001 solo album The Sea to the North,(linked to solo albums section)

In the Bob Dylan magazine The Telegraph, issue 51, there was an article on the John Wesley Harding LP cover with some info on the Bauls of Bengal. Below are a four-part scan of this article, that also mentions The Band's, and in particular Garth Hudson's, relationship with the Bangali Bauls links are incl. here, though I haven't tried 'em :

dow, Sunday, 27 June 2021 00:11 (three months ago) link

Oh yeah, the links in there (to The Telegraph) def. work! The Ginsberg connection to the Bauls (sent Grossman to India to check them out), and I sure hope their tape with Dylan turns up, or maybe it has? As to thee JWH cover...

dow, Sunday, 27 June 2021 00:24 (three months ago) link

Yall I just listened to the xpost Rhino Handmade 3-CD expansion digital ghost on Spotify (also available as downloads, like maybe all the Handmades; I've noticed Fugs, Beefheart, Television: two more LPs-worth of good-to excellent tracks, which hopefully he still had the rights to put (w/o re-recording) on yon self-released albums, when he reportedly fled Woodstock Babylon for Sweet Home Louisiana(nuthin weird goin' on down there, nuh-uh). Listening this way, I don't have the CD booklet, but who specifically played what on what has always been conjectural, according to my not-very-extensive research, and a lot of this sounds as Bandy as the original s/t; also, several cuts sound like they might incl. Garth *and* Dr. John, ideally enough. Anybody looking for cover material should def. check this out, "You Were There" def. rec. to Willie

dow, Tuesday, 29 June 2021 21:28 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

Listened to Moondog Matinee. I was never really a fan of it before - it's tough getting excited over a "covers" album. Skipping around, I thought there were only two, maybe three distinguished tracks ("Share Your Love With Me," "Mystery Train" and maybe "I Ain't Got No Home"). It's a short album so I started over and let it play start-to-finish. Then I played it yet again and for some reason it really clicked. Hard to say why, but when I focused on the group, it sank in that if this was a Last Waltz situation where they were backing other singers, they'd be doing a damn fine job. But on the second play, I learned to appreciate all the vocal performances more, not just the few that stood out. I know it already had its fans (I think Gary Graff, Greil Marcus, the late critic Robert Palmer, Robert Christgau sort of) but I think I finally hear what they were hearing.

birdistheword, Saturday, 14 August 2021 05:01 (two months ago) link

It's interesting that this record, Pinups by Bowie, and These Foolish Things by Bryan Ferry all came out in October of 1973 (although the Carpenters had released their oldies tribute Now and Then in May of that year). Had songwriters (or groups that usually did originals) done entire albums of old songs before this?

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 14 August 2021 14:14 (two months ago) link

I was flipping through Levon and Robbie's books (interesting to skim them concurrently) and it's pointed out that Lennon was in the midst of recording Rock 'n' Roll at the same time and they were definitely informed of that while they were still recording Moondog Matinee.

Anyway, so many artists who became songwriters released a LOT of covers at the start of their careers (like virtually every major artist in the UK), so I don't think the concept was considered novel in that respect. It's been suggested that it was a logical extension of the "going back to your roots" philosophy that came up towards the end of the '60s.

There's got to be more, but at the moment Paul McCartney's Run Devil Run is the only covers album that feels like a major work, at least in relation to his post-Beatles career. It's not purely covers, there are three originals, but they shore up the whole idea behind it. The cliché is that "going back to your roots" can be a bad sign of careerist desperation, like you have no idea where else to go artistically. But in this case it's not about his next artistic move, it's purely personal with McCartney recovering from his wife's death. Reportedly he hadn't even sung or performed a song since her passing and those rehearsals were indeed the first time he belted out a song since then. The fact that it's music from his youth feels appropriate because it's naturally what a lot of people do when they need solace in the face of grief - it could be music or people in your life, but it's basically retreating into the familiar and what's brought you the most peace of mind and happiness.

birdistheword, Saturday, 14 August 2021 15:42 (two months ago) link

The original vision for the Stones' It's Only Rock'n'Roll album was half-live material/half-studio covers, from the latter of which only "Ain't To Proud To Beg" making the final album, while a version of "Drift Away" is pretty easily found online.

“Heroin” (ft. Bobby Gillespie) (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:21 (two months ago) link

Oh, and don't forget Nilsson's mostly covers Pussycats, and then a couple years later ... That's The Way It Is.

There's also A Touch of Schmilsson In The Night and Nilsson Sings Newman, but those are slightly different things than what we're talking about.

“Heroin” (ft. Bobby Gillespie) (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:28 (two months ago) link

Closer to the Moondog/Pin-Ups thing is Laura Nyro's It's Gonna Take A Miracle, her classic R&B covers LP recorded with LaBelle in '71.

“Heroin” (ft. Bobby Gillespie) (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:31 (two months ago) link

Love Pussy Cats (I prefer its original and too-outrageous title Strange Pussies), but six of those ten cuts were originals. I also love the Newman album, but yeah, that is a big different - kind of a throwback to songbook albums based around one particular writer.

birdistheword, Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:34 (two months ago) link

The Nyro album is a great example - Nov 1971.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:44 (two months ago) link

I don't know if Dylan's Self Portrait really counts.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:45 (two months ago) link

Dr. John's Gumbo: April '72

“Heroin” (ft. Bobby Gillespie) (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:49 (two months ago) link

Often a sign of a band/artist contractually having an album to make but not having enough new material to make one, ditto double live albums.

Soundtracked by an ecojazz mixtape (Tom D.), Saturday, 14 August 2021 16:54 (two months ago) link

i guess no one is bringing up ferry’s these foolish things because that one is actually great?

bezos did the dub (voodoo chili), Saturday, 14 August 2021 18:56 (two months ago) link

It was mentioned, but the Ferry covers albums are perhaps a little too eclectic for what we're talking about? Moondog and the Lennon: '50s-'60s Rock'n'Soul. Pin-Ups: '60s Brit Rock. Gumbo: Nola R&B. It's Gonna Take A Miracle: Vintage Soul.

Whereas Ferry is all over the map, taking in almost all of that stuff plus Country and Standards.

“Heroin” (ft. Bobby Gillespie) (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 August 2021 20:43 (two months ago) link

Tim Hardin's Painted Head from 1972 is one of these. Guy was probably too zonked out on H to write songs at this point

Lee626, Saturday, 14 August 2021 22:33 (two months ago) link

i guess no one is bringing up ferry’s these foolish things because that one is actually great?

I would definitely include that. I love that album, and the string of others built on covers though These Foolish Things would be my favorite of those LP's.

As much as I love Bowie, I've never been a big fan of Pin Ups. I'll revisit it again, but it's never really did it for me. I LOVE the covers he's dropped into my favorite live sets (the Santa Monica show from 1972, the Nassau show from 1976, etc.), but in the studio they feel really hit-or-miss to me.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 01:05 (two months ago) link

I took about three listens to Pin Ups from start-to-finish and it didn't take. There are covers elsewhere that I really enjoy - "Kingdom Come," "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday," "Waiting for the Man" from different eras and "White Light/White Heat" - but the only one here I really like is "Sorrow," and it's probably no coincidence that it's the only "quiet" number. There's something about the band that's a little stilted on all the rockers here, and I don't think Bowie makes those numbers his own like he does with those other covers.

Anyway, back to the Band, I've given Northern Lights-Southern Cross a good listen too. It's a nice, pleasant album, but it left me with the feeling that Robertson is really hit-or-miss as a lyricist. "Acadian Driftwood" is beautiful - perhaps a little too meticulous and a little too academic compared to their earlier classics, but I don't think it would feel as powerful to me if it weren't so richly detailed. On the other hand, stuff like "Forbidden Fruit" is really clunky - the chorus alone on that one is kind of insipid. It's a real credit to the performances and the music that I can enjoy the whole album even when the lyrics sound wildly uneven under close scrutiny.

At one point, given how well they backed everyone in The Last Waltz, I wondered if they should've cut a studio album loaded with guests, except with NEW material written by said guests or perhaps in collaboration with them. Levon, Richard and Rick would still handle the lead vocals, but I figure bringing in someone like the Staples or Paul Butterfield could add some welcome elements to their music (see "The Weight" or Butterfield's playing on "Mystery Train") while someone like Joni Mitchell could shore up the songwriting where it needs it most.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 05:08 (two months ago) link

The production is very wispy on Northern Lights-Southern Cross, but I like a number of the songs. "Ophelia" is very charming, and sounds like rock-and-roll if it had been invented by white people in 1890. I acknowledge "Forbidden Fruit"'s clunkiness, and enjoy it anyway, though it's a pretty lame response on Robertson's part to a majority of his group being substance abusers.
The title track of "Islands" sounds like the perfect theme music to a mid-70s Sunday afternoon travel show, and I love it.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 15 August 2021 15:46 (two months ago) link

The "big three" off of Northern Lights are all keepers - "Ophelia," "It Makes No Difference" and "Acadian Driftwood." The rest are tuneful and wonderfully played, but in terms of what they have to convey, they don't feel all that memorable or compelling. I really chalk that up to the songwriting, especially when there are only eight songs on this thing - they needed better material or at least continue developing the songs they had.

I can revisit Islands - it's probably best to approach that for what it is, an odds 'n' sods compilation, rather than a full-realized LP. I know "Georgia on My Mind" is should hear their SNL performance where Richard's vocal tops the otherwise fine studio version. I have a soft spot for "Livin' in a Dream" - it's a bit light but it sounds like it would've been perfect as a great B-side to an awesome single.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:01 (two months ago) link

That SNL performance is grebt!

No Particular Place to POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:16 (two months ago) link

Nice! Glad you know it - it was definitely a brilliant inclusion on that Musical History box set.

Forgot to mention, "Twilight" is also a real gem...but surprisingly, none of "The Band" versions are any good. Some diehard Band fans directed me towards Rick Danko's solo renditions, and there are a ton on Spotify, all live. They range from full-band arrangements to mostly solo renditions, and the one I ended up liking the most is the one on The Best of Mountain Stage Live, Vol. 1. It's possible most people will prefer one of the solo renditions, and I definitely think the full band arrangements are often too much, but the one on Mountain Stage finds a perfect balance - drums, bass, keyboards, a steel guitar (or pedal steel?) solo and even a harmony vocal are all there, but they're very soft, very tasteful and spare. Unlike the other full-band arrangements, the other elements always complement Rick's vocal and never threaten to overwhelm him, much less do just that.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:23 (two months ago) link

This is definitely nice...forgot it was also included on the Musical History box. Another smart pick.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:40 (two months ago) link

And here's that later "Twilight" with the quieter full-band arrangement. Both Rick and Garth play on this.

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:52 (two months ago) link

FWIW, apparently it dates from 1989 - more from NPR:

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 17:56 (two months ago) link

Kind of went down a rabbit hole, but apparently Robbie was going to play in the 2013 Grammy Award tribute for Levon following his death in 2012. At the time, Jonathan Taplin posted this on his blog: “As angry as I was that Levon’s wife (Sandy) kept Robbie Robertson off the stage (it’s a long and sad story of paranoia), Zac, Mavis, T Bone and the Mumfords did a wonderful version of ‘The Weight’, which was a fitting end to a great night of Americana.” It got reported in Glide Magazine, but I guess it started a shitstorm because when I tried to dig up the original post on, any mention of Levon's wife was gone, with an added note by Taplin that said "Let’s see if we can just talk about the music."

birdistheword, Sunday, 15 August 2021 18:12 (two months ago) link

That SNL Band performance is the first I've seen where any of the vocalists weren't also playing!

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 15 August 2021 18:18 (two months ago) link

Good point!

No Particular Place to POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 August 2021 19:10 (two months ago) link

Don't think I've mentioned this 'un on here----haven't listened in a long time, but liked most of it a lot---thanks again, wiki!

Endless Highway: The Music of The Band, a tribute to the Band, was released on January 30, 2007.
Released January 30, 2007
Recorded July 19, 2005 – August 1, 2006
Genre Rock, Americana
Label 429 Records
Track listing
All songs written by Robbie Robertson unless noted otherwise.

"This Wheel's on Fire" (Bob Dylan, Rick Danko) performed by Guster - 3:24
"King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" performed by Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers - 4:03
"It Makes No Difference" performed by My Morning Jacket – 6:19
"I Shall Be Released" (Dylan) performed by Jack Johnson with ALO – 4:11
"The Weight" performed by Lee Ann Womack – 4:48
"Chest Fever" performed by Widespread Panic - 6:34
"Up on Cripple Creek" performed by Gomez – 4:37
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" performed by the Allman Brothers Band – 5:03
"Stage Fright" performed by Steve Reynolds – 3:44
"Rag Mama Rag" performed by Blues Traveler – 3:18
"Whispering Pines" (Richard Manuel, Robertson) performed by Jakob Dylan – 4:05
"Acadian Driftwood" performed by the Roches – 6:20
"The Unfaithful Servant" performed by Rosanne Cash – 4:56
"When I Paint My Masterpiece" (Dylan) performed by Josh Turner – 5:03
"Life Is a Carnival" (Danko, Levon Helm, Robertson) performed by Trevor Hall – 4:09
"Look Out Cleveland" performed by Jackie Greene – 3:13
"Rockin' Chair" performed by Death Cab for Cutie – 5:31
Bonus disc included 4 extra songs.

"Across the Great Divide" performed by Lucas Reynolds
"Ophelia" performed by ALO
"Bessie Smith" performed by Joe Henry
"The Shape I'm In" performed by Gov't Mule
Jurek, Thom. "Endless Highway: The Music of The Band - Various Artists". Allmusic. Retrieved March 21, 2012.

dow, Sunday, 15 August 2021 21:50 (two months ago) link

xxxpost Run Devil Run was so intense, even harsh at times, as he seemed to break through his usual limits: I even thought of it as more like John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band than Rock n Roll Dr. John's Gumbo was equally revelatory in its own way: the originals of those songs were waaay OOP and I hadn't heard most (the early 70s were pretty shitty for historical reissues, even for stuff like from early 60s)

dow, Sunday, 15 August 2021 21:56 (two months ago) link

Also: Kelly Hogan (and Jon Langford. eventually), "Whispering Pines":

dow, Monday, 16 August 2021 02:45 (two months ago) link

Someone just sent me this in response to that SNL video:

No Particular Place to POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 16 August 2021 16:14 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

Has anyone read Jonathan Taplin’s recent book?

He POLLS So Much About These Zings (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 10 October 2021 01:06 (one week ago) link

It's supposed to be really good. I skimmed through it really fast just to pass the time and it is filled with amazing stories that go all over the place (beyond the rock 'n' roll world), so to be clear, it's not just a book on the Band - it stretches into politics and the '60s, Hollywood, the rise of corporate America and the digital age.

Here's what Greil Marcus wrote on it for his column:

10. Jonathan Taplin, The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life (Heyday). This is a unified story, from Taplin’s time as road manager for Bob Dylan and the Band to movie producing to investment banking to technology writing, and what makes it so is thinking: someone always wondering what’s behind the curtain, if only because what’s behind it is almost certainly going to make a better story than what’s in front of it. So in a concise and burrowing manner, he tells you about the music business, with Meyer Lansky behind both MCA and Warner Communications; Michael Milken as the architect of the media landscape that Donald Trump harvested; how with their version of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It” the Band, having “trapped themselves within a sort of puritan destiny,” at least for a few minutes “shed the hair shirt”; or for that matter why Gaye’s What’s Going On “was as politically symbolic as track star’s John Carlos’s raised fist at the 1968 Olympics.” And a hundred other tales and grace notes — but, for me, nothing matches what Taplin excavates from his time as a volunteer in Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, where he turned after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., just a paragraph from a speech at the University of Kansas: “Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion a year, but that Gross National Product — if we judge the United States of America by that — that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and it counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. […] It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.” And the echoes of that speech, which was even tougher than Taplin’s quotation encompasses — the Gross National Product, Kennedy said, “counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife” — run all through the book.

birdistheword, Sunday, 10 October 2021 05:58 (one week ago) link

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