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April 4, 2017

The Band – The Last Waltz (1978) – 3Lp

by Record Facts

The Band was a Canadian roots rock group, originally consisting of four Canadians—Rick Danko (bass, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboards), Richard Manuel (piano, vocals), and Robbie Robertson (guitar)—and one American, Levon Helm (drums, vocals). The members of the Band first came together as they joined the rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins‘s backing group, the Hawks, one by one between 1958 and 1963.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist:  The Band
Title:  The Last Waltz
Year:  1978
Format:  3LP
Label:  Warner Bros. Records
Catalog#  WB 66076

The Last Waltz is a triple album by the Band, released on Warner Bros. Records in 1978, catalogue 3WS 3146. It is the soundtrack to the 1978 film of the same name, and the final album by the original configuration of the Band. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200.

As a film, The Last Waltz was a triumph — one of the first (and still one of the few) rock concert documentaries that was directed by a filmmaker who understood both the look and the sound of rock & roll, and executed with enough technical craft to capture all the nooks and crannies of a great live show. But as an album, The Last Waltz soundtrack had to compete with the Band‘s earlier live album, Rock of Ages, with which it bears a certain superficial resemblance — both found the group trying to create something grander than the standard-issue live double, and both featured the group beefed up by additional musicians. While Rock of Ages found the Band swinging along with the help of a horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint, The Last Waltz boasts a horn section (using Toussaint‘s earlier arrangements on a few cuts) and more than a baker’s dozen guest stars, ranging from old cohorts Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan to contemporaries Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Van Morrison. The Band are in fine if not exceptional form here; on most cuts, they don’t sound quite as fiery as they did on Rock of Ages, though their performances are never less than expert, and the high points are dazzling, especially an impassioned version of “It Makes No Difference” and blazing readings of “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (Levon Helm has made no secret that he felt breaking up the Band was a bad idea, and here it sounds if he was determined to prove how much they still had to offer). Ultimately, it’s the Band‘s “special guests” who really make this set stand out — Muddy Waters‘ ferocious version of “Mannish Boy” would have been a wonder from a man half his age, Van Morrison sounds positively joyous on “Caravan,” Neil Young and Joni Mitchell do well for their Canadian brethren, and Bob Dylan‘s closing set finds him in admirably loose and rollicking form. (One question remains — what exactly is Neil Diamond doing here?) And while the closing studio-recorded “Last Waltz Suite” sounds like padding, the contributions from Emmylou Harris and the Staple Singers are beautiful indeed. It could be argued that you’re better off watching The Last Waltz on video than listening to it on CD, but either way it’s a show well worth checking out.

 

Side one
1.  Theme from The Last Waltz  (3:28)
2.  Levon Helm – Up On Cripple Creek  (4:44)
3.  Ronnie Hawkins – Who Do You Love  (4:16)
4.  Neil Young – Helpless  (5:47)
5.  Rick Danko – Stage Fright  (4:25)

Side two
1.  Joni Mitchell – Coyote  (5:50)
2.  Neil Diamond – Dry Your Eyes  (3:57)
3.  Rick Danko – It Makes No Difference  (6:48)
4.  Dr. John – Such A Night  (4:00)

Side three
1.  Levon Helm – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down  (4:34)
2.  Paul Butterfield, Levon Helm – Mystery Train  (4:59)
3.  Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy  (6:54)
4.  Eric Clapton – Further On Up the Road  (5:08)

Side four
1.  Richard Manuel – The Shape I’m In  (4:06)
2.  Bobby Charles, Drf. John – Down South in New Orléans  (3:06)
3.  Levon Helm – Ophelia  (3:53)
4.  Van Morrison, Richard Manuel – Tura Lura Lural (That’s An Irish Lullaby)  (4:15)
5.  Van Morrison – Caravan  (6:02)

Side five
1.  Levon Helm, Rick Danko – Life Is A Carnival  (4:32)
2.  Bob Dylan – Baby, Let Me Follow You Down  (3:00)
3.  Bob Dylan – I Don’t Believe You  (3:23)
4.  Bob Dylan – Forever Young  (4:42)
5.  Bob Dylan – Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (reprise)  (2:46)
6.  Bob Dylan, Richard Manuel – I Shall Be Released  (6:22)

Side six
1.  Richard Manuel – The Well  (3:27)
2.  Rick Danko, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm – Evangeline  (3:17)
3.  Robbie Robertson – Out of the Blue  (3:03)
4.  Levon Helm, Mavis Staples, Pops Staples, Rick Danko – The Weight  (4:38)
5.  Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson – The Last Waltz Refrain  (1:28)
6.  Theme from The Last Waltz  (3:22)

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