From the Vault...


The Band

© Capitol Records

Year of Release: 1971

track listing
  • Life Is A Carnival
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Last Of The Blacksmiths
  • Where Do We Go From Here
  • 4% Pantomine
  • Shoot Out In Chinatown
  • The Moon Struck One
  • Thinkin' Out Loud
  • Smoke Signal
  • Volcano
  • The River Hymn

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    The Band

    The Band is one of many bands considered truly outstanding in rock and roll. Their typical rock style is great: Easy going, rock & roll. Their 1971 release, Cahoots, gets the spotlight this week.

    The album starts out with a song that I first heard (many years ago) from a Best Of compilation, "Life Is A Carnival", which is truly a great song. "When I Paint My Masterpice", written by Bob Dylan, has drummer Levon Helm on lead vocals. His vocals are hard to describe, no matter how great he sounds. It's like a mixture of a rough country or even a rough hillbilly vocal style.

    Another unique voice in the band is guitarist Robbie Robertson, the driving force and main singer of The Band. He single handedly wrote seven of the 11 songs here on Cahoots, and "Last Of The Blacksmiths" may not be one of his finest, but it is enjoyable. "Where Do We Go From Here" is another fine composition, in a style made famous by other Band songs: laid back, with a somewhat country rock feel.

    "4% Pantomime" is a bouncy rock tune, co-written by Robbie Robertson and Van Morrison. And being a fan of Van Morrison's music, I can definitely hear Morrison's style in this song, as in his album His Band And The Street Choir (my personal favorite). Morrison helped out on vocals for this song.

    The remaining six songs were written by Robertson, as "Shoot Out In Chinatown" is your basic and typical rock and roll song. It has some unique guitar licks, and again, it's basic R 'N' R, very enjoyable.

    "The Moon Struck One" is a smooth sounding song, that has some very nice instrumentation. "Thinkin' Out Loud" is another typical rock and roller, with early Eric Clapton/George Harrison guitars, and boogie woogie piano sounds. "Smoke Signal" is another basic rocker, with some great instrumental jamming in between the vocals.

    "Volcano" is like "Smoke Signal", as it also has some great instrumentation, and has the usual Band rock & roll beat. Another style The Band has always used in their career, is gospel music. "The River Hymm" has the rock meets gospel touch, and is a fine way to end the Cahoots album.

    The Band is a group you want to hear more of. My first encounter in discovering The Band's music was The Best Of The Band on vinyl. To my disappointment, the vinyl's tracks listing are different to those when it was re-issued on CD. (The vinyl version had a better arrangement of songs.) But wanting to hear more of The Band, it is a great experience to discover their most famous songs, as well as others from their original albums, and wondering why some tunes didn't make any "Best Of" compilation (not including about Box Sets, obviously).

    The Band's most famous works are with guitarist Robbie Robertson, and through the years (most recently) the band has reformed, but Robertson is not a part of the lineup, due to writing collaborations between him and Levon Helm. When The Band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Robertson was in attendance, while Levon Helm purposely stayed home. Another sad item to learn was that original member Richard Manuel hung himself in 1986, as he had overdosed on cocaine and alcohol. The remaining members (without Robertson) have recorded new material throughout 1993 to 1995.

    The Band's Cahoots is a good album, and defines the basic elements of rock & roll. And for those who enjoy just the basics of rock, The Band is just that, and will be enjoyed by those who are familiar with their music, and for those discovering them for the first time.

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    Previous Review: #619
    Joe Jackson--I'm The Man
    Next Review: #621
    King Crimson--In The Court Of The Crimson King