The Band - Last Waltz [Box Set] (Music CD)

Release Date: 09 September 2013
Artist: The Band
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"The road was our school. It gave us a sense of survival; it taught us everything we know and out of respect, we don't want to drive it into the ground...or maybe it's just superstition but the road has taken a lot of the great ones. It's a goddam impossible way of life" - Robbie Robertson, from the movie The Last Waltz, quoted in the box set. Perhaps Robertson's greatest gift is how he can spin a myth, making the mundane into majestic fables. Outside of his songs, his greatest achievement in myth-making was The Last Waltz, where he doesn't necessarily overstate the amount of time the Band spent on the road, but he sure tried to make it all seem like something special, both in amount of time they spent on the road and what they've accomplished. And while he was right on the latter -- the Band did change the course of music, leaving behind records that still sound gloriously rich and out of time -- the former is a bit of a stretch since not only were the rest of the Band not exactly ready to stop touring (they would later reunite without him), it ignores the basic fact that touring is what working musicians do. They make music, they play for audiences, they keep rolling throughout the years, and many of the artists invited to participate in the Band's farewell concert -- Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Neil Young, the Staple Singers, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan, who legendarily launched a neverending tour in the '80s -- lived the life of a working musician, performing live well past 50. The Band was cut from the same cloth as this, but Robertson realized that the group wasn't doing itself any good by staying on the road -- and the accompanying Martin Scorsese-directed film does suggest that the Band was indulging itself way too much -- and that it was the perfect time to draw the curtain on the Band with a lavish concert that turned their entire career into a burnished myth, nearly as ancient and romantic as photographs from the Civil War.
Hence, The Last Waltz, a farewell concert on Thanksgiving 1976 promoted by Bill Graham and turned into a timeless documentary by Scorsese, was released as a triple-album set in 1978 and finally reissued as a four-disc box set by Rhino in 2002, on its near-25th anniversary (it's somewhere between 24 and 26, depending if you're counting performance or release, so 25 is a good compromise). Many people call this the greatest rock movie and greatest live performance of all time. They're wrong. It could be argued that the film is among the greatest rock films -- convincingly so, actually -- but the music amplifies not just what was great about the Band, but also their greatest flaws. That is, their effortless virtuosity and wonderful organic sound is a joy to hear, yet it can be undercut by the literary pretensions of Robertson, which gives the songs and sometimes the performances an artificial, academic feel -- something that is accentuated here, since the music is being presented in an artificially romantic setting, where everything was heightened for the cinema; the Band even gives the entire enterprise a theme straight out of The Third Man. This resulted in something equally wonderful and affected, with each track having portions of both in different proportions. On the whole, the sublime outweighs the missteps, particularly since the invited guests are by and large troubadours who enjoy playing: Dr. John hauling out "Such a Night" (such a standard practice, it was later parodied on SCTV), Bobby Charles turning in the happiest performance of the evening with "Down South in New Orleans," Muddy Waters roaring through "Mannish Boy," Paul Butterfield playing mean harp, Van Morrison's joyous set, Dylan performing with an authority that suggests that he always thought he owned the Band. Other good moments are here. Clapton croons his Band-supported album track "All Our Past Times" with appropriate melancholy; Neil Young turns out a sweet "Helpless"; Joni Mitc

More Detail

  • Disk 1
  • 1. Theme From The Last Waltz
  • 2. Up On Cripple Creek
  • 3. The Shape I'm In
  • 4. It Makes No Difference
  • 5. Who Do You Love
  • 6. Life Is A Carnival
  • 7. Such A Night
  • 8. The Weight
  • 9. Down South In New Orleans
  • 10. This Wheel's On Fire
  • 11. Mystery Train - Butterfield, Paul
  • 12. Caldonia
  • 13. Mannish Boy
  • 14. Stagefright
  • Disk 2
  • 1. Rag Mama Rag
  • 2. All Our Past Times
  • 3. Further On Up The Road
  • 4. Ophelia
  • 5. Helpless
  • 6. Four Strong Winds
  • 7. Coyote
  • 8. Shadows And Light
  • 9. Furry Sings The Blues
  • 10. Acadian Driftwood
  • 11. Dry Your Eyes
  • 12. The W. S. Walcott Medicine Show
  • 13. Tura Lura Lural (That's An Irish Lullaby)
  • 14. Caravan
  • Disk 3
  • 1. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
  • 2. The Genetic Method/Chest Fever (Excerpt From Movie Soundtrack)
  • 3. Baby Let Me Follow You Down
  • 4. Hazel
  • 5. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
  • 6. Forever Young
  • 7. Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Reprise)
  • 8. I Shall Be Released (Finale)
  • 9. Jam #1
  • 10. Jam #2
  • 11. Don't Do It
  • 12. Greensleeves (From Movie Soundtrack)
  • Disk 4
  • 1. The Well
  • 2. Evangeline
  • 3. Out Of The Blue
  • 4. The Weight
  • 5. The Last Waltz Refrain
  • 6. Theme From The Last Waltz
  • 7. King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
  • 8. Tura Lura Lural (That's An Irish Lullaby)
  • 9. Caravan
  • 10. Such A Night
  • 11. Rag Mama Rag
  • 12. Mad Waltz (Sketch Track For "The Well")
  • 13. The Last Waltz Refrain
  • 14. The Last Waltz Theme (Sketch)
Release Date: 09 September 2013
Artist: The Band
SKU: 8122797319