Wednesday, July 4, 2007

No. 45: The Band

Band: The Band
Album: The Band
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Despite being 4/5 Canadian, The Band made a record that explores American history while sounding explicitly American.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Why have two Band records in the top 50?
Best song: "Up On Cripple Creek" is the most popular, but "King Harvest" is probably a better song in the "storytelling" aspct.
Worst song: "Rag Mama Rag" isn't fantastic.
Is it awesome?: It is pretty good, but hardly great.

It's not really easy to write 20th century rock and roll songs about the Great Depression, the Civil War or the frontier era. It's probably a lot harder if you're Canadian.

It has been speculated that "The Band" is a Tocqueville-esque concept album with songs that focus on the varying "peoples, places and traditions associated with an older version of Americana."

"The Band" isn't terrible on every level. It's a good record, but it speaks to -- I think -- the biases inherent in this list. Because the Rolling Stone editors (and whoever else compiled the list) exist in a boomer-centric/Dylan-worshipping world, The Band gets the bias runoff. I can see the thoughts running through their heads: "Well, Dylan is great, his ex-backing band must be great, too!"

Again, that's not to say that "The Band" stinks. It doesn't. "King Harvest" is among the Band's best songs. The storytelling aspect of it is unparallelled among their catalog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The Band" is a AWESOME. "Big Pink" is merely very good (and a bit stiff). You got it back to front on the Band!