BCB 130 - THE BAND

Do talk back
User avatar
modharper
Just a hunk a hunk of burnin' love
Posts: 1088
Joined: 24 Jul 2003, 18:02
Contact:

BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby modharper » 22 Jul 2014, 22:47

(**I can't seem to post the entire thing, so trying this in two parts...**)

Image

The Band. Four Canadians, One American. Five musicians who challenged the sonic excesses of the ‘60s by going back to the roots - no, further: the earth - of rock and roll, taking us back to the garden, the pastoral landscapes of America.

I’ve seen the divisions on BCB concerning The Band - what’s deemed the negative ‘brown’ effect of their second, eponymous album - but for me, their best work (largely their first two albums) escapes criticism, because unlike what came after them, they felt authentic. To me, them retreating to the basement of Big Pink was the best thing that happened in the ’60s. Things had got too fanciful, too bloated, and they sought the sound of easy, downhome, organic music. Their ethos split Cream, saw the Stones rediscover their blues heritage, and once George Harrison fell under their spell, The Beatles were never the same again.

They drew from country, soul, R&B, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll to fuse their own distinctive rustic style, where each member played a supple yet pivotal role, and their voices - individually full of character and emotion - combined in heavenly harmonies.

Rick Danko, the sweet heartbreaker. Richard Manuel, haunting, soulful. Levon Helm, full of heart and grit. Garth Hudson, the eccentric virtuoso. Robbie Robertson, tasteful yet fierce guitarist, storyteller extraordinaire.

I think The Band deserve their name because they exemplify what a musical group should be: a unit, a permutable machine that harnesses the power of each component to the best of its ability. They are precise. I listen to The Band and I hear truth.

My own journey with The Band began some time around 1997. I was 18, had just moved to Edinburgh from rural Fife to study photography at college, and was deeply ensconced in the sound of Hooch-fuelled post-Britpop guitars, yet full of inquisitive wonder that grew from my love of (read: obsession with) Red Hot Chili Peppers that found me researching and exploring their influences. I had already made tentative steps with Bob Dylan (unsurprisingly the Greatest Hits CD), and was frequenting a music exchange shop on Morrison Street to further explore names I was hearing that I thought I might like. (I remember getting The Best Of The Byrds on cassette - whooo! That soundtracked a stoned summer!) One night, I was at home watching TV, and The Band’s episode of Classic Albums, which told the story of their second album, came on. I had been curious to learn more about them, and this was my first real exposure. I knew nothing more than ‘The Weight’ (from Easy Rider) and their relationship with Bob Dylan. I watched, engrossed, and felt a love affair blossoming immediately. My heart crumbled when it spoke of Richard’s suicide. The very next day, I bought a Greatest Hits CD (from Fopp this time), and it changed my life.

In the ensuing years, I studied The Band’s every nuance, gathering their albums on vinyl and CD. I played along on guitar to my stereo at home, or sang loudly when I was driving. The Last Waltz movie became the staple post-club comedown viewing, inciting friendly arguments as to who stole the show (Van? Muddy? Mavis? Definitely not Neil Diamond!). One moment I remember vividly: it was maybe a month after a girlfriend had dumped me, and I was driving home late one night from somewhere, still some heartbreak festering deep inside. I was listening to a homemade Band compilation tape, and on came the album version of ‘It Makes No Difference’. Even though I knew and loved the song dearly already, it seems its poignant message of lovesick hopelessness finally hit home. Mid-song, I pulled over to the side of the road and cried my eyes out.

Rick Danko died in 1999. As one of my first musical heroes to pass away while I was aware of them, I was devastated. The Band’s website announced an address for which flowers could be sent to his widow, Elizabeth, for his funeral service. I felt compelled to write a letter. I wrote how deeply saddened I was for her loss, how much Rick’s art meant to me, and how affecting his voice was. It made me feel better for writing it, and soon after I forgot all about it. A couple of months later, I received a thank you card from Elizabeth thanking me for my kind words. It touched me that she’d even bother replying, that she’d read my letter, that she knew the impact her husband had on the world, on me. I never thought I could ever get closer to The Band as I did through that letter. (Elizabeth died last year; I never forgot her selflessness.)

In 2004 I co-founded Clash Magazine. It was then and is now a magazine for young, discerning music fans, but our coverage was designed to reflect the immediate availability of music’s history, and the diversity of our generation’s iPod playlists. Thus, I pursued my musical heroes to interview them, and considering we were the credible young alternative to the usual monthlies, we tended to get them. Upon the release of the boxset ‘A Musical History’ in 2005, I was granted an hour-long phone interview with Robbie Robertson. I collated pages and pages worth of questions, rushing through the more pressing ones towards the end. “Did you get everything you needed?” Robbie asked after an hour. I said no, and told him about my abundant list. He asked if I’d like to do it again, same time tomorrow. We did. I never thought I could ever get closer to The Band as I did through those phone calls. (Our Q+A is online: Part 1 and Part Two.)

In 2007, Garth Hudson was in London (where I’d moved the previous year), playing The 100 Club with Goldrush. I applied for and was granted an interview with him in person. I arrived at the club as he was soundchecking - alone at his keyboard, his chin on his chest, eyes closed, fumbling through Beethoven, Monk, baroque improvisations and familiar Band refrains. Once satisfied, he shuffled into the backroom as I followed him there, and sat with him and his lovely wife Maud, and had a great conversation for around 90 minutes. His deep, rumbling voice was slow - sometimes painfully so, and I couldn’t work out if he’d finished his sentences, or fallen asleep - but they relished the attention and were faultlessly gracious. Garth signed my ‘Last Waltz’ vinyl and the cover of ‘A Musical History’ book/box, and took a photo with me. Maud called me a week later to fill in some details. They loved the finished piece - Maud emailed to thank me. (I put our Q+A online here)

Image

Image

TBC...
THIS WAY FOR A COWBOY'S BREAKFAST
Image

User avatar
modharper
Just a hunk a hunk of burnin' love
Posts: 1088
Joined: 24 Jul 2003, 18:02
Contact:

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby modharper » 22 Jul 2014, 22:47

In 2011, Robbie Robertson announced a new solo album, ‘How To Become Clairvoyant’. He was coming to London, but would only be doing a couple of interviews. Mine was one of them. We met in a stunning West London townhouse, and as I sat down on the couch next to him, visibly shaking, I confessed that I was more nervous to meet him than anyone else, ever. He laughed, humbled, and assured me there was nothing to worry about, taking my sincerity as an opportunity to trust me and open up. (The exact same circumstances unfolded with Patti Smith a year later.) The interview was thorough, fun, and, at only an hour (he didn’t offer another one this time), all too short. I also had him sign my Last Waltz vinyl, and got my pic with him too. (Read the mag edit of our interview here)

Image

Despite my repeated requests to his manager, I never managed to talk with Levon, which remains one of my biggest regrets. He was always my favourite member. ‘Dirt Farmer’ is the finest solo work of all The Band. (I didn’t enjoy the film Ain’t In It For My Health, however - Levon came across, to me, as grouchy, letting his spite and distrust spoil his last chances of success.)

Today I consider myself an affirmed Band obsessive. I suppose they opened the doors for me to country music (next stop: Gram Parsons. Wait, why the hell isn’t he in the BCB canon?!), which has developed into a inquisitive passion, and further stoked my ongoing romance with America.

I haven’t bothered to recall their full history, as that’s what Wikipedia is for, instead choosing to kick things off with my personal connection to The Band, which is probably for the best, considering the length this has surprisingly become. What I’d hope to see in this thread, however, is discourse on:

• the effect of Bob Dylan (primarily on Robbie)
• the rise and fall of Richard Manuel as songwriter
• interpretations of Robbie’s mythical/Biblical references
• studies of individual songs
• an appreciation for the member’s individual musicality
• the bountiful Basement Tapes catalogue

…as well as the usual celebration of Band-related artists, new releases, interesting videos, etc.

OK, I think I’ve made a fairly rounded introduction to the conversations that may follow, so now I’d like to turn to my favourite audio and visual moments of The Band, if you’d allow me. Some of these are miniscule moments, subtle flashes of brilliance that may appear imperceptible, but thrill me to my core. Others are just striking moments of perfect chemistry: sheer rock ‘n’ roll.

‘WE CAN TALK’ (‘Music From Big Pink’, 1968)
The interplay between Rick, Richard and Levon; Rick’s fluffed line at 1:27; the time change at 1:36; the crack of Levon’s drums; Levon’s pronunciation of “Did you ever milk a cow?” (and the presupposition that, indeed, he had). A complex, fantastically profound song from Richard.



‘I SHALL BE RELEASED’ (‘Music From Big Pink’, 1968)
Dylan’s song of redemption is infused with gospel in The Band’s interpretation, and achingly personified by Richard Manuel. I’ve told my wife I want this played at my funeral. It needs little more compliment than that.



‘THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN’ (‘The Last Waltz’ version, 1978)
A beautiful, profound song of dignity, worth more words than I can afford here (this is a good start), but the hairs on the back of my neck rise when, in The Last Waltz, the last chorus climaxes as the crowd roar and Levon pours out his soul (3:34 in this clip).



‘WHEN YOU AWAKE’ (Classic Albums version, 1997)
A personal favourite from ‘The Band’, it sounds even better stripped down.



‘UNFAITHFUL SERVANT’ (‘The Band’, 1969)
The guitar solo in this song (3:09 - 3:50 in this clip) defines precisely what I love about The Band; it’s so naked, so minimal, so QUIET, that it’s the exact opposite of what guitar solos in 1969 were. It’s just piano, sparse shuffling percussion, bass, and Robbie’s sweet, trilling picking - listen closely and you can hear him breathing. It is exquisite. (Garth and John Simon’s closing brass is similarly beautiful.)



‘KING HARVEST’ (‘The Band’, 1969)
Another song that deserves its own thread, I just wanted to blast the Geek Alert and highlight my favourite bit - Levon’s sticks clapping together at 3:11. Totally natural, totally unrefined: honest, like its parent album.



‘ALL LA GLORY’ (‘A Musical History’, 2005)
This delicate lullaby is incredible in its original form, but this early version from the 2005 boxset is just…gorgeous. I co-hosted a digital radio programme for a couple of years, and played this on the night Levon died. He never sounded so impeccable.



‘WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE’ (‘Cahoots’, 1971)
Garth’s accordion throughout; Levon’s guttural “time” at 1:50.



‘4% PANTOMIME’ (‘Cahoots’, 1971)
I forsook ‘Where Do We Go From Here’ for space sake to include this (though I DO love its bassline) wonderful drinking song, connived by two rogue Irishmen.



‘AIN’T NO MORE CANE’ (‘The Basement Tapes’, 1975)
The Band’s take on the traditional prison work song utilizes four voices, and even Robbie’s strained tones are affecting in the song’s disaffection. In my 2011 interview with Robbie, I just had to ask him specifically about this song - he remembered Dylan playing it for him; “Wait a minute, teach that song to me,” Robbie told Bob, “There’s something special in that.” And in that moment, The Band as American revisionists were born. (Note: I couldn't find the superior original on YouTube; this live Woodstock take does it little justice.)



‘TWILIGHT’ (‘A Musical History’, 2005)
I never liked the production on the original - The Band’s later work often sounds flat, too slick, compared to their earlier stuff - so hearing this soft, stripped piano version of Robbie’s original demo lets the song’s sentiment shine perfectly.



‘TURA LURA LURA’ (‘The Last Waltz’, 1978)
I recently discovered this clip - I’ve constantly been floored by Van’s bellowing howl at 1:46, but to see the incredulous smile on Danko’s face as he hits that note…wow.



‘THE WEIGHT’ (‘The Last Waltz’, 1978)
This song, in any of its guises or versions, would make a favourites list, but the all-time greatest moment occurs in the dying seconds of this take (4:24), as Mavis sensually whispers her reaction to the song’s majesty.



‘IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE’ (‘The Last Waltz’, 1978)
How could The Band possibly improve my favourite song? This live version may cut a verse, but it beefs up the emotion in its intensity, and Garth Hudson steals the show with a soul-connection sax solo - its peak at 4:21 here just MELTS me…



Over to you guys.
THIS WAY FOR A COWBOY'S BREAKFAST
Image

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 47598
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby C » 22 Jul 2014, 22:57

Great posts lad

Yes, great posts

I'm not a massive fan but I adore the eponymous album - probably my fave of theirs








.
slightbreeze wrote:Some excellent tracks to honest, but 20 tracks on each disc? A true progger goes cold if there are more than 3

Hugh
Posts: 15187
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:43

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Hugh » 22 Jul 2014, 23:04

Lovely. I might say more later but for now I just want to say that I just don't understand how anyone could not love those first two albums.

User avatar
Phenomenal Cat
death on four legs
Posts: 10100
Joined: 07 Sep 2004, 16:52
Location: Presently Shattering the Illusion of Integrity
Contact:

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 23 Jul 2014, 00:02

I love nothing more than poking fun at The Band's Civil War-Reenactment schtick, but that was a hell of a write-up, and I promise not to make trouble.
Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want everybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Rick Santorum
Move in next door and marry my son
You must think I’m crazy!

But somehow when you smile, I can brave bad weather.

User avatar
Count Machuki
BCB Cup Champion 2013
Posts: 36916
Joined: 11 Jun 2005, 15:28
Location: semiosphere

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Count Machuki » 23 Jul 2014, 00:05

Chester Fever wrote:I love nothing more than poking fun at The Band's Civil War-Reenactment schtick, but that was a hell of a write-up, and I promise not to make trouble.


I also pledge to hold my tongue in light of that excellent post.
Let U be the set of all united sets, K be the set of the kids and D be the set of things divided.
Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

User avatar
toomanyhatz
Power-mad king of the WCC
Posts: 25571
Joined: 07 Apr 2005, 00:01
Location: Just east of where Charlie Parker went to do some relaxin'

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby toomanyhatz » 23 Jul 2014, 00:15

I blame them for a lot and credit them with a lot.

Despite Robbie Robertson hogging all the credit, my favorite singer in the band is Richard Manuel, and my favorite musicians are Danko and Helm.

Favorite song - Whispering Pines

Favorite album - Stage Fright - yes, seriously.

Most underrated album - ditto.

This one's a groove master (and basically invented Little Feat, which to me is a good thing):

Jimbo wrote:A discredited and shady online publication which gets its information straight from Vladmir Putin himself has accused our hometown good boy Toomanyhatz of belonging to an online band of junkies and McDonald's eaters.
.
1959 1963 1965 1981 1988 2017?

User avatar
mission
Posts: 2012
Joined: 04 Apr 2008, 13:39

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby mission » 23 Jul 2014, 03:59

This is excellent work, modharper; just excellent.

I struggle with The Band. Weirdly they vacillate between the ignoring that ubiquity brings and the ignoring that a certain kind of obscurity brings.

That is, I only know the hits and, boy, do I fucking know them. The rest of their work hides in plain sight and I have never delved. It's a generational thing, I am sure. I came of age in the post-punk/independent/alternative years and "The Band" was code for "tedious roots-schtick hippie wankers."

I will make my way through the youtubery you have posted and report back.

Thank you.
Good.

User avatar
Belle Lettre
Éminence grise
Posts: 14740
Joined: 09 Oct 2008, 07:16
Location: Antiterra

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Belle Lettre » 23 Jul 2014, 05:39

Marvellous stuff. I hardly get the albums out these days - should change that - but Last Waltz is a staple.
Nikki Gradual wrote:
Get a fucking grip you narcissistic cretins.

User avatar
trans-chigley express
Posts: 16594
Joined: 11 Nov 2003, 01:50
Location: Asia's WC

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby trans-chigley express » 23 Jul 2014, 11:07

I must admit the only band album I've ever owned or heard is a best of. Not for the first time in this series the OP has tempted me to explore further. An excellent read. I particualry enjoyed reading about the interviews.

The only other band related album (aside from The Last Waltz that is) that I know is the first Robbie Robertson solo album which I think is excellent.

User avatar
The Fish
Beer Battered
Posts: 12209
Joined: 24 Oct 2003, 20:04
Location: Hove Actually

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby The Fish » 23 Jul 2014, 13:08

I'm glad I passed this one over having originally signed up as it seemed no one wanted this. Not a hard decision as Modharper is clearly more qualified. Great to see someone younger (in BCB terms anyway) discovering the greatness after the fact as it were.

I didn't actually get to start anything but KIng Harvest was definitely going to feature so glad to see it here.

Say it once, say it loud, I'm BROWN and I'm proud
We're way past rhubarb

User avatar
Bride Of Sea Of Tunes
Posts: 17009
Joined: 17 Oct 2010, 14:10
Location: The Nether World

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Bride Of Sea Of Tunes » 23 Jul 2014, 13:18

The Fish wrote:I'm glad I passed this one over having originally signed up as it seemed no one wanted this. Not a hard decision as Modharper is clearly more qualified. Great to see someone younger (in BCB terms anyway) discovering the greatness after the fact as it were.

I didn't actually get to start anything but KIng Harvest was definitely going to feature so glad to see it here.

Say it once, say it loud, I'm BROWN and I'm proud


I concur with the sentiment expressed, as well as the colour of choice.
The invisible and the non-existing very much look alike.

User avatar
'skope
BCB poster of the year 2014
Posts: 6248
Joined: 07 Jun 2014, 13:19
Location: on diamond dog's ignore list

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby 'skope » 23 Jul 2014, 13:27

nice posts, modharper!

i like the first two albums well enough, but i much prefer them them as dylan's backing band. the 65-66 tour is probably the most exciting music ever performed and appeals to me on every level. not sure if it truly counts as 'the band' though?

'planet waves' is just such an underrated dylan album and of course, 'the basement tapes' is an aladdin's cave of weird old america.

User avatar
soundchaser
Rokster & Rollster
Posts: 7479
Joined: 20 Jun 2006, 10:55

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby soundchaser » 23 Jul 2014, 14:34

Nice posts, indeed. I love the first two albums, but, apart than those. I never really followed them other than their work with Dylan.

Before The Flood is a great live album.

Bent Fabric
Posts: 1764
Joined: 22 Jul 2014, 21:38

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Bent Fabric » 23 Jul 2014, 14:36

I really like what you did with this - you went very personal, and...it was impossible not to be moved by the content.

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 28089
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Matt Wilson » 23 Jul 2014, 17:14

The real deal, and not just their sixties work. Stage Fright, Rock of Ages, Northern Lights, Southern Cross and The Last Waltz were all excellent albums.
John 'master of temperance and tolerance' Coan wrote:Oh calm down for fuck's sake!

User avatar
Phenomenal Cat
death on four legs
Posts: 10100
Joined: 07 Sep 2004, 16:52
Location: Presently Shattering the Illusion of Integrity
Contact:

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 23 Jul 2014, 19:07

Matt Wilson wrote:The real deal...


Better than CCR?
Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want everybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Rick Santorum
Move in next door and marry my son
You must think I’m crazy!

But somehow when you smile, I can brave bad weather.

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 28089
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Matt Wilson » 23 Jul 2014, 19:59

Well, let's not go there.
John 'master of temperance and tolerance' Coan wrote:Oh calm down for fuck's sake!

User avatar
Phenomenal Cat
death on four legs
Posts: 10100
Joined: 07 Sep 2004, 16:52
Location: Presently Shattering the Illusion of Integrity
Contact:

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 23 Jul 2014, 22:46

Matt Wilson wrote:Well, let's not go there.


I tend to praise CCR, who were undoubtedly fake (not from the southern swampland) but give The Band a lot of stick. I realize this huge contradiction and yet I just can't go Brown. Help.
Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want everybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Rick Santorum
Move in next door and marry my son
You must think I’m crazy!

But somehow when you smile, I can brave bad weather.

User avatar
modharper
Just a hunk a hunk of burnin' love
Posts: 1088
Joined: 24 Jul 2003, 18:02
Contact:

Re: BCB 130 - THE BAND

Postby modharper » 24 Jul 2014, 12:28

Thanks for the compliments. I enjoyed writing it.

And thanks Cat/Count for not pulling the rug out quite yet! ;)

That is, I only know the hits and, boy, do I fucking know them. The rest of their work hides in plain sight and I have never delved. It's a generational thing, I am sure. I came of age in the post-punk/independent/alternative years and "The Band" was code for "tedious roots-schtick hippie wankers."


I hear you, but my listening habits began to mature around 1991, through the largesse and heft of grunge, then the 'mad for it' laddism of Oasis. Different generation, same impatience for acoustic introspection.

Say it once, say it loud, I'm BROWN and I'm proud


Indeed, though there's an abundance of examples on that Brown thread I wouldn't touch with Googa's barge pole. I'm not instantly enamoured by any Tom, Dick or Levon who picks up a mandolin and sings of the civil war; I like authenticity, I like good grooves and I like originality. The Band had all of those. 'Tumbleweed Connection' is held in dear affection, my favourite of Elton albums, but it just lacks the experience, the heart and soul, that couldn't be captured by an Englishman. (okay so The Band were only 1/5 American, but still...)

(Sorry for not attributing quotes - I'm having great difficulty logging into the site - for some reason my server won't let me enter - so using phone through network rather than wifi and don't know the shortcuts!)
THIS WAY FOR A COWBOY'S BREAKFAST
Image


Return to “Yakety Yak”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 1 guest