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The next to last waltz: The Band live in Asbury Park, NJ, 1976
07.21.2014
01:45 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Band


 
When The Band were taped in concert at Asbury Park’s Casino Arena on July 20, 1976—thirty eight years ago yesterday to be exact—plans were already afoot for their final appearance that fall in San Francisco that would be filmed for Martin Scorsese’s documentary, The Last Waltz. Knowing that this show would be among their final onstage outings together as a band, The Band are in fine form here, the energy is high and, as always, the musicianship is as good as it gets.

Recently, I posted about the full “Last Waltz” concert as it was recorded via Winterlands house video feed which is fascinating on so many levels, but not the least of which is hearing The Band without all of the studio fussing and overdubs that Robbie Robertson is famous (infamous?) for. Here, as with that (truly incredible) “Alternate Last Waltz” video, what we have is The Band, a group fabled for their near-telepathic communication as musicians as they actually sounded in the raw… damned good! (And unlike in The Last Waltz, you get to see the other band members besides Robbie Robertson. At least you can see the top of Garth Hudson’s head from time to time!)

The version of “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show” at 1:12:00 is a must listen—it might be my top favorite song by The Band—and the final encore of “Life Is A Carnival” that follows it is a thing of great beauty also.

Until or unless a full show from The Band taped after this one turns up, I guess you could call this one the “next to last waltz.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan turns 73 today (plus historic 1969 live footage at the Isle of Wight festival)
05.24.2014
10:36 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band



 
Bob Dylan turns 73 years old today. Long may he stay on the Never Ending Tour.

Below, historic footage of Dylan and The Band caught on B&W half-inch open reel videotape at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1969. Dylan had rejected an offer to play at Woodstock to headline the festival.

Allegedly this was shot by a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr (who can be seen in the audience here). This makes sense because a) only someone relatively wealthy would have had access to a half-inch open reel video-recorder at the time and b) whoever shot this was right up front. The sound drops out for several minutes, sadly.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Young & The Band in ‘The Alternate Last Waltz’


Japanese cinema poster

I was looking for something else entirely when I stumbled across THIS buried treasure: The Band’s complete “Last Waltz” concert, as shot from what must have been the house cameras at Winterland. The audio and video sound quality is amazing and best of all, this is not only how it went down, in the order that it went down, and it’s actually how it sounded before Robbie Robertson went in and overdubbed everything. (It’s also not had that blob of cocaine hanging from Neil Young’s nose edited out through frame by frame rotoscoping….)

As much as you might love The Last Waltz, this is probably even better. I do hope that several of you download this for safekeeping, ‘cos it may not last that long…

1. Introduction / Up on Cripple Creek 0:00
2. Shape I’m In 5:55
3. It Makes No Difference 10:15
4. Life Is A Carnival 17:28
5. This Wheel’s On Fire 22:51
6. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 27:26
7. Georgia On My Mind 31:20
8. Ophelia 35:05
9. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) 39:18
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 43:26
11. Stage Fright 48:16
12. Rag Mama Rag 53:23
13. Introduction / Who Do You Love (with Ronnie Hawkins) 57:26
14. Such A Night (with Dr. John) 1:02:45
15. Down South in New Orleans (with Dr. John) 1:07:58
16. Mystery Train (with Paul Butterfield) 1:13:23
17. Caledonia (with Muddy Waters) 1:18:27
18. Mannish Boy (with Muddy Waters) 1:26:20
 

 
Part two begins with Eric Clapton coming onstage to join The Band, followed by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and then poetry from Digger Emmett Grogan, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and others.

1. All Our Past Times (with Eric Clapton) 0:00
2. Further On Up The Road (with Eric Clapton) 5:39
3. Helpless (with Neil Young) 11:52
4. Four Strong Winds (with Neil Young) 18:01
5. Coyote (with Joni Mitchell) 23:52
6. Shadows And Light (with Joni Mitchell)
7. Furry Sings The Blues (with Joni Mitchell)
8. Dry Your Eyes (with Neil Diamond)
9. Tura Lura Lural (with Van Morrison) 44:10
10. Caravan (with Van Morrison) 48:15
11. Acadian Driftwood (with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young) 54:07
12. Poem (Emmett Grogan) 1:01:18
13. Poem (Hell’s Angel Sweet William) 1:02:41
14. JOY! (Lenore Kandel) 1:06:14
15. Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Michael McClure) 1:07:36
16. Get Yer Cut Throat Off My Knife / Revolutionary Letter #4
17. Transgressing The Real (Robert Duncan) 1:10:26
18. Poem (Freewheelin Frank Reynolds)
19. The Lord’s Prayer (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
20. Genetic Method 1:14:15
21. Chest Fever 1:20:25
22. The Last Waltz Suite: Evangeline 1:25:45
 

 
Bob Dylan and the big jam sessions after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch Bob Dylan in ‘Eat the Document’ (with John Lennon, Johnny Cash and The Band) while you can
02.05.2014
10:34 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Johnny Cash
The Band


 
Eat the Document was intended to be a TV documentary on Bob Dylan’s 1966 European tour, produced for ABC Stage 67, a prestigious showcase for musicals, documentaries, original teleplays and short films (everything from a rock musical scored by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to a doc on Masters and Johnson to “Skaterdater”), but the network rejected it for being “incomprehensible.” The film captures the madness of that tour and was shot by D. A. Pennebaker, who’d also made Don’t Look Back, the documentary of Dylan’s 1965 tour. Pennebaker’s version was called “Something Is Happening.” The retitled Eat the Document was cut by Dylan himself with Howard Alk, but the network still didn’t want it.

Eat the Document wasn’t seen at all until the early 70s when it was screened at New York’s Academy of Music and the Whitney Museum. Shitty bootleg copies have floated around for decades (I had one that was barely watchable) but in recent years a super clean digital copy has been seen on torrent trackers, and occasionally on YouTube. Dylan was, and is, alleged to hate it, which is why you should probably watch this sooner rather than later. There’s always a bit of Whac-A-Mole going on with Eat the Document there, I’ve noticed.
 

 
In the film we see Dylan tired, jamming with Johnny Cash, onstage with The Band (then still called The Hawks) writing songs with Robbie Robertson and wearily dealing with members of the media. Some of the infamous footage of Dylan riding around in a limo with John Lennon (Lennon claimed Dylan had gotten him high on heroin beforehand) is also seen in the film.
 

 
Thank you Glen E. Friedman of New York City!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan & The Band at Isle of Wight Festival, 1969
11.22.2013
04:54 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band


 
Bob Dylan and the Band caught on b&w half-inch open reel videotape at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1969. Dylan had rejected an offer to play at Woodstock to headline the festival.

Allegedly this was shot by a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr (who can be seen in the audience here). This makes sense because a) only someone relatively wealthy would have had access to a half-inch open reel video-recorder at the time and b) whoever shot this was right up front.

“I Threw It All Away”

“The Weight”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Band live at The Academy of Music, 1971: The ‘Rock of Ages’ concerts
09.19.2013
04:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band


 
If I am to judge the product purely on the quality of the music and how much I enjoyed it, I would be obliged to give the new box set Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 by The Band a 5/5. It sounds really good. The performances are nothing short of incredible. It blew my doors off.

The four CDs and one DVD are encased in a nice glossy hardback cover with slick embossed lettering, short essays and color photos. It’s a nice thing to hold in your hands and it got me listening to The Band again. Box sets are good that way and I reacted in the expected Pavlovian slobbering fanboy manner.

Oh children, believe me when I tell you that I can rhapsodize about The Band and this is them at the height of their powers, playing their hearts out over the course of a four-night stint at the old Academy of Music on 14th Street in New York, the cavernous venue that would later become the Palladium nightclub, the set of Club MTV and is now… NYU dorms! They were accompanied by a crack horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint that gave their Civil War folk rock a Stax/Volt swing. Bob Dylan even showed up for the encore of their New Year’s Eve set and performed four numbers with them.

The recordings of these shows are what became the Rock of Ages album, a 2 LP release from the summer of 1972. That album went to #6 in the album charts and is considered by many to be one of the greatest live albums ever recorded.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of the box yet, but the 5.1 surround, mixed by Bob Clearmountain is quite good and discs 3 and 4 with the raw “you were there” soundboard mixes from New Year’s Eve are also pretty cool. But why anyone would require seven of the same songs from the first two discs to be repeated—well same performance, with a different, more immediate, less hi-fi mix—on discs 3 and 4 is beyond me. The 5.1 mix is the same songs (minus the Dylan numbers) from the first two discs. There are only seventeen unreleased tracks here. Most people who would want this already have Rock of Ages and in fact may have purchased it in multiple formats. There have already been several CD versions.
 

 
The problem with reviewing this box is that I like the music, I like it a lot, but it’s so repetitive that the idea of asking fans of The Band to plunk down $109 (Amazon discounts it to $73) and expecting that they’ll do it seems frankly insane to me.

What gives?

The initial Amazon reviews of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 have been nothing short of brutal, slamming Robbie Robertson for ripping off his biggest fans and decrying the repetitive nature of the box set. They’ve got a point!

What I can’t believe is that the 5.1 mix is just a (lossy) Dolby file on a DVD and not an HD DTS version on a Blu-ray disc. There’s no high-res stereo file, either, just one encoded at 448 kbps/48kHz. For audiophiles, this is a massive turn-off and although this seems to be news to the major labels, they’re the ones who are still buying those round shiny silver things that you can hold in your hand. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Clearmountain’s mix, but I’d sure like it a lot more on a Blu-ray disc! It sounds great, but it could sound a lot better. Me, I’d rather have that superior version, especially at this price point.

It stands to reason that the majors would want to appeal to the people—cater to them, kiss their asses—who would *actually buy* what basically amounts to three versions of Rock of Ages by giving them some value for the money. Even those intelligence-insulting Pink Floyd box sets with the drink coasters and Pink Floyd marbles had the surround audio portion on Blu-ray discs. They overlap in the material here, too, is simply so shameless, that you just have to laugh. At either $109 or $73, it’s not a good value for the money.

By comparison, the upcoming Van Morrison Moondance box set has 4 CDs and a high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix on a Blu-ray and this will sell for $56. I reckon that this is still too high of a price to ask when everyone knows that each and every song on those 4 CDs would fit onto the Blu-ray. I think a $35 list price for an expanded catalog classic that’s been plundered for profits over and over again is where the multi-generational sweet spot is.
 

 
Fact is, if I was given the option of buying classic albums on Blu-ray, with either a 176/24 version of some album I love or a 5.1 surround mix (or preferably both) and the list was $35, I’d still be buying the same amount of music that I bought back in 2004. But I’m not offered that option or if I am, it’s not at that price point and I get stuck with a bunch of stuff I don’t want, like a “Dark Side of the Moon” scarf… Go much over $35 and you lose me as a customer.

But this is hypothetical, because seldom does what the accountants at the labels think will sell and what the fans want overlap, it’s just that obvious. Many people have excellent audio-visual equipment in their homes and a desire for quality software products to enjoy on their electronics, but the labels never even attempt to engage these consumers. It’s so completely ass-backwards that it’s… annoying.

There are some rays of hope. For instance Panegyric’s upcoming XTC and Yes reissues done by Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson—who has previously worked his magic on the King Crimson catalog—feature a CD and a Blu-ray disc combo with high-res audio, 5.1 surround mix and music videos. There’s also a CD/DVD version that will sell for about $25; the Blu-ray/CD pairing goes for around $30.

DING-DONG, this is the perfect formula. I can’t see why the big labels don’t get that. The majors need to look at what Steve Wilson is doing—and no one else but Steve Wilson—and get him to advise them so they stop falling on their faces so hard each and every time they put out these sorts of releases! DO WHAT HE DOES. HE GETS IT. COPY HIM. When they let bean counters and marketers make these decisions they make them based on faulty assumptions of what record buyers and fans want. Steve Wilson? He knows what I want!

In the case of The Band box, the blame for the list price should probably be laid at the feet (or the ego) of the producer, Robbie Robertson. As one Amazon wag put it, there’s only so much ore in that mine. I expect Robertson understands what he means by that. Anyone paying full retail for this box would. The Band’s vault has simply been plundered too many times. The high list price of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 turns off the most ardent fans and insures that no new ones will be coming aboard. That’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s on the discs, well, it’s fine. It’s magic. It’s like having gold poured into your ears. It’s The Band at their very best.

But it’s overpriced like crazy and I gotta call it like I see it. If this was a Blu-ray disc with the Clearmountain 5.1 mix in HD DTS and a high-res stereo mix, plus the soundboard mix as an extra, at a $35 or under price point, I’d be raving like a lunatic telling all of you to run out and buy it. Now.

Not to be a buzzkill(!) here are four songs (“Time to Kill,” “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “Up on Cripple Creek”) from The Band performing live at The Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1970.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Band live at The Academy of Music, 1971: The ‘Rock of Ages’ concerts
09.12.2013
03:49 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Band


 
If I am to judge the product purely on the quality of the music and how much I enjoyed it, I would be obliged to give the new box set Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 by The Band a 5/5. It sounds really good. The performances are nothing short of incredible. It blew my doors off.

The four CDs and one DVD are encased in a nice glossy hardback cover with slick embossed lettering, short essays and color photos. It’s a nice thing to hold in your hands and it got me listening to The Band again. Box sets are good that way and I reacted in the expected Pavlovian slobbering fanboy way.

Oh children, believe me when I tell you that I can rhapsodize about The Band and this is them at the height of their powers, playing their hearts out over the course of a four-night stint at the old Academy of Music on 14th Street in New York, the cavernous venue that would later become the Palladium nightclub, the set of Club MTV and is now… NYU dorms! They were accompanied by a crack horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint that gave their Civil War folk rock a Stax Volt swing. Bob Dylan even showed up for the encore of their New Year’s Eve set and performed four numbers with them.

The recordings of these shows are what became the Rock of Ages album, a 2 LP release from the summer of 1972. That album went to #6 in the album charts and is considered by many to be one of the greatest live albums ever recorded.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of the box yet, but the 5.1 surround, mixed by Bob Clearmountain is quite good and discs 3 and 4 with the raw “you were there” soundboard mixes from New Year’s Eve are also pretty cool. But why anyone would require seven of the same songs from the first two discs to be repeated—well same performance, with a different, more immediate, less hi-fi mix—on discs 3 and 4 is beyond me. The 5.1 mix is the same songs (minus the Dylan numbers) from the first two discs with no hi res stereo file. There are only seventeen unreleased tracks here. Most people who would want this already have Rock of Ages and in fact may have purchased it in multiple formats. There have already been several CD versions.
 

 
The problem with reviewing this box is that I like the music, I like it a lot, but it’s so repetitive that the idea of asking fans of The Band to plunk down $109 (Amazon discounts it to $73) and expecting that they’ll do it seems frankly insane to me.

What gives?

The initial Amazon reviews have been nothing short of brutal, slamming Robbie Robertson for ripping off his biggest fans and decrying the repetitive nature of the box set. They’ve got a point!

What I can’t believe is that the 5.1 mix is just a (lossy) Dolby file on a DVD and not an HD DTS version on a Blu-ray disc. For audiophiles, this is a massive turn-off and although this seems to be news to the major labels, they’re the ones still buying those round shiny silver things that you can hold in your hand. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Clearmountain’s mix, but I’d sure like it a lot more on a Blu-ray disc! It sounds great, but it could sound a lot better. I’d rather have that better version, especially at this price point.

It stands to reason that the majors would want to appeal to the people—cater to them, kiss their asses—who would *actually buy* what basically amounts to three versions of Rock of Ages by giving them some value for the money. Even those intelligence-insulting Pink Floyd box sets with the drink coasters and Pink Floyd marbles had the surround audio portion on Blu-ray discs. They overlap in the material here, too, is simply so shameless, that you just have to laugh. At either $109 or $73, it’s not a good value for the money.

By comparison, the upcoming Van Morrison Moondance box set has 4 CDs and a high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix on a Blu-ray and this will sell for $56. I reckon that this is still too high of a price to ask when everyone knows that each and every song on those 4 CDs would fit onto the Blu-ray. I think a $35 list price for an expanded catalog classic that’s been plundered for profits over and over again is where the multi-generational sweet spot is.
 

 
Fact is, if I was given the option of buying classic albums on Blu-ray, with either a 176/24 version of some album I love or a 5.1 surround mix (or preferably both) and the list was $35, I’d still be buying the same amount of music that I bought in 2004. But I’m not offered that option or if I am, it’s not at that price point and I get stuck with a bunch of stuff I don’t want, like a “Dark Side of the Moon” scarf… Go much over $35 and you lose me as a customer.

But this is hypothetical, because seldom does what the accountants at the labels think will sell and what the fans want overlap, it’s just that obvious. Many people have excellent audio-visual equipment in their homes and a desire for quality software products to enjoy on their electronics, but the labels never even attempt to engage these consumers. It’s so completely ass-backwards that it’s… annoying.

There are some rays of hope. For instance Panegyric’s upcoming XTC and Yes reissues done by Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson—who has previously worked his magic on the King Crimson catalog—feature a CD and a Blu-ray disc combo with hi-res audio, 5.1 surround mix and music videos. There’s also a CD/DVD version that will sell for about $25; the Blu-ray/CD pairing goes for around $30.

DING-DONG, this is the perfect formula. I can’t see why the big labels don’t get that. The majors need to look at what Steve Wilson is doing—and no one else but Steve Wilson—and get him to advise them so they stop falling on their faces so hard each and every time they put out these sorts of releases! DO WHAT HE DOES. HE GETS IT. COPY HIM. When they let bean counters and marketers make these decisions they make them based on faulty assumptions of what record buyers and fans want. Steve Wilson? He knows what I want!

In the case of The Band box, the blame for the list price should probably be laid at the feet (or the ego) of the producer, Robbie Robertson. As one Amazon wag put it, there’s only so much ore in that mine. I expect Robertson understands what he means by that. Anyone paying full retail for this box would. The Band’s vault has simply been plundered too many times. The high list price of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 turns off the most ardent fans and insures that no new ones will be coming aboard. That’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s on the discs, well, it’s fine. It’s magic. It’s like having gold poured into your ears. It’s The Band at their very best.

But it’s overpriced like crazy and I gotta call it like I see it. If this was a Blu-ray disc with the Clearmountain 5.1 mix in HD DTS and a high res stereo mix, plus the soundboard mix as an extra, at a $35 or under price point, and I’d be raving like a lunatic telling all of you to run out and buy it.

Not to be a buzzkill(!) here are four songs (“Time to Kill,” “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “Up on Cripple Creek”) from The Band performing live at The Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1970.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Music from Big Pink: The Band, live in Pittsburgh, 1970
03.11.2013
08:28 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Band


 
The Band—Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson—performing live at the Syria Mosque auditorium in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1970 at the height of their telepathic power as musicians.

The quality is superb here. The music is mythological.

“Time to Kill”
“The Weight”
“This Wheel’s on Fire”
“Up on Cripple Creek”
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Last Waltz: The Band’s Levon Helm reported to be near death
04.17.2012
04:13 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Band
Levon Helm


 
Sad news: Levon Helm, former singer/drummer for The Band, is in the final stages of his battle with cancer, according to a note from his family posted on his website. Helm was treated for throat cancer 1998 and after a nearly decade-long recovery was able to perform again. In 2007, he released the critically-acclaimed Dirt Farmer and performed steadily since then, up until recent weeks.

The statement from Helm’s family:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

The Band performs “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” in The Last Waltz.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Historical footage of Bob Dylan & The Band at Isle of Wight Festival, 1969
01.31.2012
07:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band


 
Bob Dylan and the Band caught on b&w half-inch open reel videotape at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1969. Dylan had rejected an offer to play at Woodstock to headline the festival.

Allegedly this was shot by a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr (who can be seen in the audience here). This makes sense because a) only someone relatively wealthy would have had access to a half-inch open reel video-recorder at the time and b) whoever shot this was right up front.

“I Threw It All Away”

“The Weight”

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment