Rolling Stone on the Band


I am a big admirer of the Band and saw four of their concerts.  They did not indulge in the musical excesses common then – they just stood there and played.  I first saw them in 1970 – the concert was loud like their then new album Stage Fright.  It was great – crisp, rock and roll more than their earlier folkie sound.

This article  isn’t bad and I’m glad to see the Band get the publicity but I have some disagreements.

One factual point – Moondog Matinee was their sixth album, not their fifth.

The Band is by far their best album.

Stage Fright is half great, half bad.  I love “Strawberry Wine”, “Sleeping”, “Time to Kill” and “The Shape I’m In”.  To me, “W.S. Walcott Medicine Show” is a self conscious imitation of the old-fashioned sound and stories that were natural on The Band. “Just Another Whistle Stop” is bland mainstream rock.  Nothing distinguishes it from the other music popular then.  Great Band songs really stand out because they were so unique in how they brought the past into the present.

Cahoots is terrible.  The only good tracks are the first two – “Life Is a Carnival” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece”.

Before the Flood is a very accurate souvenir of what the 1974 tour shows were like.  I saw one in Philadelphia.  It’s shorter than the actual shows.  I saw Dylan do five acoustic songs and there are three here.  The Band did 11 songs and there are eight here.  The Band was excellent but the crowd kept calling out for Dylan when he was offstage.

I have read Dylan did not like the tour so I doubt it will be covered in the Bootleg Series releases.  That’s a shame.  There are more shows that were recorded and some have been bootlegged.  The performances were fine.  Maybe Dylan didn’t like it because it was more a recreation of 1966 than something new.  In 1974, the performances were met with adulation instead of the hostility from 1966.

I am not a big fan of The Last Waltz.  I was tired of seeing the same songs and the performances were not as good as their early ones.

I do like Moondog Matinee which emphasizes some lesser known songs by great artists such as “I’m Ready” (Fats Domino) and “Promised Land” (Chuck Berry).

I’m glad the article mentioned “Going, Going, Gone” which is the best song on the slight Planet Waves.

“Can You Please Crawl Our Your Window” was from an era (1965-67) when everything Dylan did was great.  It’s not up there with the previous singles like “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Positively 4th Street” but there aren’t many songs that are.

This is not the released take and I don’t think the Band was the backup.  Most Dylan stuff is not on YouTube.


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