5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A genuine classic that should occupy a space in every collection,
This review is from: The Band (Audio CD)
There are albums that should be included in everybody's collection. Now by this i don,t mean albums that are purely subjective(Though you could say all albums are) . By that i mean the obscure things like Fra Lippo Lippi,s "Songs" or Downy Mildews debut album. Then there are albums like The Bands eponymous second album. True classics ( 45th on Rolling Stones list of the best 500 albums of all time though there are some right clinkers in amongst that lot) universally accepted as great albums by all and sundry.
Released in September 1969 the album saw Robbie Robertson take over the mantle as the groups principle song-writer. For the debut album "Music From The Big Pink" song writing duties had been shared between Robertson and Richard Manuel but there are only three shared song-writing credits -the gorgeous ballad "Whispering Pines", "Jawbone" and "When You Awake". Actually that's not strictly true as "Jemima Surrender" is penned by Levon Helm and Robertson.
This album is viewed by some as concept album about old America- it,s traditions , people and places features suitable instrumentation. Rick Danko plays bass, fiddle and trombone while Levon Helm plays drums, mandolin and rhythm guitar. Garth Hudson , a true multi instrumentalist, though it,s fair to say Danko and helm are too, contributes organ ,clavinet, piano, accordion, saxophones, trumpet and bass pedals. The playing and singing by the three vocalists Robertson, Helm and Danko-especially the harmonies is exemplary and helps makes this album such an enriching musical experience.
Of course it helps that the level of song writing is so extraordinarily good. There is a wealth of traditional and (For then) contemporary styles absorbed into these songs. Indeed The Band is possibly the finest Americana album ever released , many years before Americana became a justifiable musical tag , thanks to music magazines like Uncut. Songs like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "When You Awake", "Across The Great Divide" and "King Harvest(Has Surely Come)" resonate with empathy and ravaged emotion . The vocal performances are simply stunning with on Levon Helms rougher edged tones on "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Whispering Pines" being especially outstanding .
Some reviewers of this album have been sniffy about other supposed classics as a way of heaping ever more fulsome praise on The Band which seems a rather disingenuous method of lauding it. By any criteria this is a tremendous album, and fully desrves the most lavish fulminations anyone can heap upon it. It should be, as is stated earlier in any discerning music fans collection. There is however, no need to slag of other bands to prove the point .The Band more than eloquently speaks for itself.