Includes Staples "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Across the Great Divide," "Up On Cripple Creek"
Many believe it's the most perfect Americana album ever made. The 1969 touchstone very well may be. Advancing the chemistry and cohesion of the group's ground-shifting debut, The Band is an inimitable distillation of compelling storytelling, cosmic divinity, loose country-rock tunefulness, and superbly crafted songwriting. Warm, literate, poignant, and intimate, the record established new standards for seemingly effortless telepathic interplay among first-class musicians whose creations are as much about feeling as they are about sound.
Mastered on our world-renowned mastering system, this collectable hybrid SACD burrows into the sonic heart of hearth-rich fare that balances Appalachia's mountain flavors, the Old West's rollicking free spiritedness, Canada's limitless vast folk sprawl, and the Deep South's whiskey-soaked drawl. Arkansas native Richard Helm blends his rural roots with guitarist Robbie Robertson's allegorical narratives, the pair meeting at a crossroads that, on this pressing, reveals textures as organic as cotton and tonalities as timeless as the look of classic filmstrips. Notes hover and naturally decay; cascading harmonies waft and reverberate; soundstages open up and extend, providing generous spaces for each member's invaluable contributions to relax, settle, and enter into a wholesome communion.
Indeed, a force normally associated with higher powers appears to guide each one of the 12 tracks, honed to perfection by co-writer Robertson and his simpatico mates. Sensitive, graceful, magnetic, entirely genuine: Whether focusing on Richard Manuel's spiritual piano chords and evocative tenor, Rick Danko's simple albeit direct bass lines and melancholy deliveries, Robertson's pull-no-punches leads, Garth Hudson's majestically tuckpointed organ runs, or Helm's percussive rhythms, a sense of astonishment and truth dignifies arrangements steeped in meditative properties and barn-dance rawness.
From the swampy bayou grooves, jaw-harp-mimicking clavinet passages, and traditional yodels found on "Up on Cripple Creek" to the jubilant dance persuasion of "Rag Mama Rag," The Band blends mythological devices with authentic melodies, rustic acoustic properties with haunting harmonies. Universally identifiable, the characters in the songs are people well-versed in hardship, depression, working-class struggle, and Skid Row trouble. Musically, the group balances sweetness and edginess on all of its foundational material, capturing the essence of American music and culture like no band before or since.