The Band - S/T LP

the_band_huge.jpg

“The rustic Americana that the Band had rubbed up against on their 1968 debut album Music From Big Pink was just the start. Assembled while the group holed up in their home near Woodstock, N.Y., with their former boss Bob Dylan, but recorded in studios in New York and Los Angeles, the album was on the cusp of a new roots-oriented movement in rock music.

Dylan himself stripped down and twanged up on 1967’s John Wesley Harding, spurred by his “Basement Tapes” collaboration with the then-unnamed Band earlier in the year. And Dylan disciples the Byrds, after toying with the genre around the same time, steered straight into roots country on 1968’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

But neither of those records could compare with the Band’s self-titled, second album from 1969. From its iconic cover photo — a sepia-toned pic that looked like something Matthew Brady shot — to the themes of the songs contained inside — one way or another, they all led back to the year 1865 or so. The Band marked a pivotal moment in rock music: the time it grew up by looking back.

Oddly enough, the Old South thread that runs through the album’s music and lyrics was made by a group of mostly Canadians and recorded in West Hollywood. It’s a testament to the Band’s individual members — Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson — and their ability to play everything from fiddle and mandolin to trombone and accordion that makes The Band sound so genuine. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear these guys’ ancestors were Civil War vets or maybe even soldiers, cryogenically preserved from 100 years earlier.” - Michael Galluci for Ultimate Classic Rock