Wednesday, 20 July 2016

"The Band" by THE BAND (2000 Capitol 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster of their 2nd album from 1969) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"...Ain't No Reason To Hang My Head..."

Sounding like it was recorded in Uncle Bob's Basement and Garage (they used a house in the Hollywood Hills owned by Sammy Davis, Jr and padded it out with blankets and wood) - The Band's self-titled second album delivered on the promise of their 1968 debut "Music From Big Pink" in a huge way. Today it's revered as an Americana classic and this cool little CD Remaster from 2000 hammers that home big time. Here are the rag mama rags...

Released September 2000 - "The Band" by THE BAND on Capitol 525 3892 (Barcode 724352538928) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and breaks down as follows (71:57 minutes):

1. Across The Great Divide
2. Rag Mama Rag
3. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
4. When You Awake
5. Up On Cripple Creek
6. Whispering Pines
7. Jemima Surrender [Side 2]
8. Rockin' Chair
9. Look Out Cleveland
10. Jawbone
11. The Unfaithful Servant
12. King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 2nd album "The Band" - released September 1969 in the USA on Capitol Records STAO-132 and January 1970 in the UK on capitol Records E-ST 132.

BONUS TRACKS:
13. Get Up Jake (Outtake - Stereo Mix)
14. Raga Mama Rag (Alternate Vocal Take - Rough Mix)
15. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Alternate Mix)
16. Up On Cripple Creek (Alternate Take)
17. Whispering Pines (Alternate Take)
18. Jemima Surrender (Alternate Take)
19. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (Alternate Performance)

THE BAND was:
GARTH HUDSON - Organ, Clavinette, Piano, Accordion, Soprano Tenor & Baritone Sax and Slide Trumpet
RICHARD MANUEL - Vocals, Piano, Drums, Baritone Sax & Mouth Harp
LEVON HELM - Vocals, Drums, Mandolin & Guitar
RICK DANKO - Vocals, Bass, Violin & Trombone
ROBBIE ROBERTSON - Guitar

Compiled by Cheryl Pawelski and Andrew Sandoval - the 16-page booklet has fantastically comprehensive liner notes by ROB BOWMAN that feature interviews stretching back twelve years (from 2000), photos of tracking sheets, mix instructions, American 45s and Picture Sleeves, trade adverts, colour snaps from the session in the house - and even a Time Magazine cover from January 1970. It's very well done as befits an album of this stature. But the big news is a great remaster by DAN HERSCH and ANDREW SANDOVAL. Recorded outside of a conventional studio in a loose manner and with `feel' being all-important - the tracks vary in sound quality. And you have to say that this remaster allows the whole lot to `breathe'. On tracks like "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" and the beautiful "Whispering Pines" where hiss is more than evident - the transfers haven't tried to supress it - but given it space to shine - it's properly lovely.

Almost a mission statement as to `this is how we sound - love it or lump it' - the openers "Across The Great Divide" and the single "Raga Mama Rag" establishes that `Band' sound and feel. The joviality abates for the epic "Virgil Cane" Civil War ballad "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" with Levon Helm sounding literally like a beaten soldier from the South. It's one of Robbie Robertson's finest songwriting moments. Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson do a great vocal trade off on "When You Awake" but Manuel's lead on "Whispering Pines" is probably most people's crave - a gorgeous melody with all those croaking voices harmonizing and that organ giving it a church on Sunday backdrop. It ends Side One perfectly.

We go into boogie mode for "Jemima Surrender" - a top-notch chugger with the group sounding like they're enjoying themselves while discovering a special chemistry ("I'll bring over my Fender and play all night for you..."). But the biggies are the two finishers - Rick Danko sings "The Unfaithful Servant" where "that train is comin'..." and the malevolent "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" is handled by Richard Manuel. There's even traces of Little Feat's funky sound in its 1969 grooves. The extra tracks provide a fabulous insight into the recording process - beginning with a real find - an outtake called "Get Up Jake" considered at the time as one too many for the album - its great. Listening to a string of Alternate Takes of songs you've known for decades is a strange and exhilarating experience - the acoustic "Dixie" is unbelievably intimate with its false starts and great sound. A keyboard-funky "Up On Cripple Creek" follows - but the real prize has to be another version of "Whispering Pines" which is just as achingly beautiful as the finished cut (even when it breaks down mid-take because of a `squeaky chair'). The loose guitar jam of "King Harvest" feels like eavesdropping on "union man" Americana. Wicked...

Dirt cheap from most online retailers - this is one of those occasions where you don't have to pay through the CD nose to get that great combo of top music and quality sound. And if ever a group deserved such a sweet outcome - then The Band are it...

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