Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No. 34: Music From Big Pink

Band: The Band
Album: Music From Big Pink
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: In an interesting contrast to the fake British stuff going on at the time (hello, "Beggar's Banquet!"), the Band gets roots-rock right. Dylan co-wrote three songs on the record, but the non-Dylan songs sound like a jam session between amazing musicians who know how to work off one another.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I like this rating. It's not a great, super-influential album, but it is great American rock and roll that touches on many different musical styles.
Best song: Come on. "The Weight" is it. You knew that.
Worst song: I actually like "Tears of Rage" the least of any song on this album.
Is it awesome?: Yes, it is.

It's nice to be able to write about Dylan's backing band as the center stage situation. The Band (originally The Hawks) were exactly the type of roots rock band that needs to exist in America; They build slow, they hold tempo and they're soulful. They didn't screw around trying to be Robert Johnson or Bob Dylan or both, they took from each side and they created something familiar, yet new.

"Music From Big Pink" is that. Recorded while dicking around doing "The Basement Tapes," The Band's debut contains a number of fantastic tracks. Their cover of country standard "Long Black Veil" meanders around the organ, while the lyrics from "Kingdom Come" seep with spirituality.

Of course, in classic Americana tradition, the classic "The Weight" is a fantastic road song. Telling the tale of a man traveling through Pennsylvania, evoking religious imagery in the town of Nazareth. The seminal refrain of "Take a load off Fannie, take a load for free" has become a classic among classics. Few songs have been covered by bands ranging including Dionne Warwick, The Grateful Dead, The Temptations, The Decemberists and The Wallflowers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I am sure you know, Let it Be was an album that was meant to take The Beatles back to the day where they were all in studio together and used no overdubs. Thus making Let it Be another "fake" roots-rock record.