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34
4.8 out of 5 stars
Greatest Hits
Format: Audio CDChange
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2003
Listening to this album for the first time as a fan of The Last Waltz, but without knowing anything else about The Band, I was initially somewhat disappointed. The overall sound mix seemed hollow compared to the live versions of songs like Ophelia, yet one would normally expect a studio album to sound fuller and more rounded than a live effort. Worse, the production is flawed, with many of the tracks noisy and slightly damaged in some places.
But on a repeated listening and after following The Last Waltz's on-screen advice to turn the volume up, this collection grew on me - and has continued to grow on me, to the extent that I now spend much of my days annoying my colleagues by humming or singing, badly, some of the songs on this CD.
The Band, and lead guitarist Robbie Robertson in particular, must be amongst the greatest songwriters ever. The melodies are catchy and the arrangements are exquisitely put together. The lyrics are always intelligent and are often a daring historical narrative or social commentary, the best exemplar being the devastating Acadian Driftwood.
First and foremost, however, The Band are performers and are genuine masters of this craft. Every song is simply perfect: the musicians blend perfectly, the harmonies work perfectly and the individual performances are nothing short of stunning. The use of three "lead" singers with distinctive individual voices, far from being distracting, is a clever way of lending separate narrative voices to songs. The result of this careful arrangement is to instill a deep emotion into every track, which, combined with the intelligence of the writing, results in a powerful, unforgettable song in almost every instance, fusing country, blues and rock in a unique style.
Everyone will have a favourite in this collection and I suspect Band devotees might even have a favourite that has not been included amongst these "greatest hits". For my money, the gorgeous It Makes No Difference is easily worth the price of this album on its own.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2008
Probabably the first use of the term Americana was used to describe the music and songs of the Band.Psychedelic music had morphed into acid rock ezcess and Prog Rock in England.The only way to go was backwards.The rather ridiculous criticism of country music was made null and void by the Band who were equally influnced themselves by what has now been called Roots Music
With Dylan as the way in the 70s would become the era of the Band.
In this country the biggest hit could have been The Night they drove Old Dixie down but made by Joan Baez.
Thus the Band were known as album artists who would bow out with The Last Waltz.
A recent covermount CD Across the Great Divide is of music they influenced
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2014
The odds seem to be pretty heavily stacked against Greatest Hits: the well-liked two-CD anthology of 1990, To Kingdom Come, provides a more comprehensive introduction to The Band; this 2000 release's title is a bit of a misnomer given that they only had two US Top 40 hit singles; the enigmatic black-and white portrait of the group that adorns the cover is spoilt by the jarring superimposition of an unattractive logo; and the long sleeve-note by Rob Bowman is ridiculously pompous (It begins with the unappealing sentence: "The Band were singularly unique in the annals of North American music".)

Yet this digitally-remastered 18 track CD - taken from the 7 studio albums The Band issued between 1968 and 1977 - provides a pretty compelling overview of this roots-rock rock quintet from Canada. How does it do that? By shrewdly deciding to draw heavily from their first three albums: Music From Big Pink (1968); The Band (1969), and Stage Fright (1970). That means material that regularly features in critics' and fans' lists of the Top 10 songs by the group appears here like: 'I Shall Be Released'; 'The Weight'; 'Chest Fever'; 'King Harvest (Has Surely Come)'; 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'; 'The Shape I'm In', and 'Stage Fright'. These evocative songs, with their yearning vocal harmonies, unflashy soul and funk inflections, and imagery of moon-lit cornfields and small-town dreaming, provide a powerful and effective contrast to the psychedelic era in which they were created. They also provide evidence of The Band's much documented closeness, which was said to have derived from having spent years on the road backing rockabilly showman Ronnie Hawkins and an electrified Bob Dylan.

It also helps that for the final third of this chronological collection compiler Cheryl Pawelski has shown good sense in only drawing lightly upon their work from the 1970s: in retrospect, we can see that The Band's best studio work definitely came in their earlier years. She manages to sort the wheat from the chaff well. So, for instance, 1971's largely unsatisfying Cahoots is represented by their winning cover of Bob Dylan's 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' and the brassy 'Life Is A Carnival', which features a guest appearance from legendary R&B producer Allen Toussaint.

However, it is surprising to note that this nearly CD-filling 77 minute compilation doesn't feature 'Don't Do It': after all, it was their only US Top 40 hit single other than 'Up On Cripple Creek'. There is also nothing here from their pair of much heralded live albums Rock Of Ages (1972) and their star-studded farewell The Last Waltz (1978); and a powerful case could have been made for the inclusion of the overlooked 'Across The Great Divide' and 'All the Glory' as well. Any of these choices would have provided a more fitting conclusion to Greatest Hits than the unsatisfying pair of tracks selected from 1975's uninspired Northern Lights-Southern Cross and 1977's derivative Islands: 'Acadian Driftwood' and 'The Saga of Pepote Rouge'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2014
I bought into this band as a 16 year old after hearing Rag Mamma Rag in the early 70`s but I never really bought any of their records.So purchasing this compilation gave me an insight into their music. Deffo one of the better Canadian bands
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on 11 April 2014
You know when you buy a compilation and it's disappointing? Well, rest assured, this is not one of those occasions. This album is magnificent, every track is a gem and a very good version of the song. Highly recommended. You will be thrilled to have this collection of the band's greatest hits.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2009
I thought I hadn`t heard of the band when a friend told me about them.Once I bought the disc and played it I started to remember their music,I forgot how good they were.
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on 29 October 2013
I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the songs I knew but actually did not know where recorded by The Band. A really good selection.
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on 11 January 2014
These are most of the Band's best songs and their quality has stood the best of time. A better band than was realised at the time
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on 10 March 2013
Have loved the band for years so great to have all the best hits on 1 cd. Yes would deffinately reccomend.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2010
A very good compilation of greatest hits. If you like this kind of music (60-70), this is a apsolute "must have"...

Greetings from Croatia
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