I’ve always kind of taken The Band for granted. I’ve known their basic history, seen “The Last Waltz” half a dozen times (but probably paid more attention to the guests than to the stars), could name their members and who played what etc. and might be able to hum a few of their hits, but haven’t ever really “listened” as in paid deep attention to their music.
Well, all that is about to change, but first I need some help from Dopers.
How can I tell who is singing what, both leads and harmonies. I think I have Richard Manuel’s remarkable, high, Ray Charlesy voice sussed, but what about the other guys? Can Dopers offere potted descriptions of what each other memeber’s voice sounds like and which records show them to their best advantage?
Should this turn into a general appreciation thread, that’s good too!
The Band website has all the information you want, including who sings what.
For the past few years, I’ve felt that the Band is one of two top classic rock groups of all time who are terribly neglected these days (the other is Traffic) due to lack of “classic rock” airplay. The Band never really had a hit single, but at their prime, they were considered one of the top five rock acts.
For a place to start, I lean toward The Band over Big Pink.
I have The Best of the Band, Big Pink, Last Waltz, The Basement Tapes, Before the Flood with Bob Dylan, a couple of Robbie Robertsons’ CDs and a couple of Rick Dankos’ CDs. You know the Band is famous because they were Dylan’s back up band when he went electric at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965?
I’d recommend The Last Waltz, Big Pink and Before the Flood (a live concert album). They have a wonderful compilation album called To Kingdom come which is also excellent. I wasn’t all that crazy about the Basement Tapes, I think they were bootlegs?
As for solo albums by Band members, I don’t have anything by Levon Helm, an oversight on my part since I really like him. I liked Robbie Robertson’s Storyville the best , followed by his first solo album. He has an awful singing voice when he sings high, but his voice is great when he’s singing low or talking the words.
I wasn’t that impressed with Rick Dankos solo albums, they’re nice, but they’re not as good as the Band’s music.
I hope this helps?
Canadians love southern rock. Neil Young sounds like he could come from there (“Southern Man” notwithstanding). We also like our Blues Rock. Colin James fits the SRV mold, and his music was huge in Canada. The Tragically Hip are big in Canada - and areas of the U.S. South. I’m not sure what the affinity is, but it’s definitely there, at least musically.