Saturday, April 21, 2012

R.I.P. Levon Helm- 5 tunes from the Band

I would never say I am a Band "expert". I remember borrowing "The Last Waltz" from the library and liking a lot of the guests but thinking the Band tracks were just ok. To a 12-13 boy this wasn't rock like the Stones of the Who. Their music sounded a bit "rural" to me. I guess today we would call it "Americana". Levon and Rick Danko sang most of the songs even though Robbie Robertson wrote them (later a point of contention between Levon and Robbie). A lot of the songs were stories, "period pieces" even! 
Levon was the only member actually from the US, the other guys were from Canada. Odd that a Canadian would write music songs so distinctly "American".

Levon with Steven Seagal in "The Fire Below", actually not a bad movie.

                                       It took me getting into Robbie Robertson's first solo album in the 80's to start to go back and dig deeper into their catalog. 
Some stuff I really like and some stuff is still too "Rural" for me, other stuff is too "New Orleans jazz" sounding. 

Here are five I recommend (besides the obvious hits).      

                             The Band "Don't you Do It"


In the 90's The Band, minus Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel, staged a pretty good comeback. Their "Jericho" album was quite good. It included this great version of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City"
                                The Band "Atlantic City"


The follow-up to "Jericho", "High on the Hog", was not as good and quite spotty. 
This cover of the R&B song from EnVogue is kind of humorous and funky.
                                          The Band "Free Your Mind"

I like some of their late period stuff from the first go-round of the group
                                     The Band "Living in a Dream"

                               The Band "Forbidden Fruit"


Another gem from the "Jericho" comeback album. Has a kind of inspired gospel feel.
                                                   The Band "Shine the  Light" 


some stuff from Levon's early solo work following the dissolution of the Band

                                           and Levon on Drums and drumming

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