It is always with disbelief that I read disparaging reviews of this album! Cover version sets tend to be by-numbers run-throughs of crowd-pleasers, hackneyed efforts usually. This one is a soulful and emotional collection - even the extra tracks hint that The Band could have taken the project further.
They were already expert at completely remoulding others' work, refer to the fabulous renditions of 'Don't Do It' (originally prefixed 'Baby' by Marvin Gaye) and 'I don't want to hang up my rock'n'roll shoes' on the Rock of Ages live album. Moondog Matinee would be a belated continuing of The Band's passion for dipping into the heritage that inspired them.
This album is brimming with beautiful vocals, particularly Richard Manuel's delicious takes on 'The Great Pretender' and 'Share your love with me' and Rick Danko's reverent treatment of Sam Cooke's 'Change is Gonna Come'. Special mention has to be made to The Band's wonderfully funky workout on 'Mystery Train': Garth Hudson lets loose on his Lowery organ to provide unexpected exotic touches of detail to add to the percolating groove.
I shouldn't give away too many surprises! There's so much to love about this collection. So how can this be considered a weak album? Now is your chance to respond... Above all, this is wonderful music. And that was always what The Band stood up to present.