I have always looked at today’s artist with a clouded sense of appreciation. Directly associated with Bob Dylan, another artist who I have evolved in my appreciation for, The Band is an act who has always come with great critical acclaim, for which I did not fully understand. After listening to their debut album, “Music from Big Pink”, which is the #100 rated album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time, I still don’t know if I quite get the hype, but I definitely see their influence in style and sound.
Formed in the early 1960s, they worked directly with Dylan as his backup band before breaking off as their own act and ultimately recording this album. With a talented group of musicians, most of which who came from Canada, this band is full of talent and diverse style. When I listen to this album, I hear a style of complex vocal harmony and blended folk rock that emerged more prominently in the 1970s with bands like the Eagles, America, and even Crosby, Stills and Nash. In fashion and sound, I can even see the beginnings of what we all know as “yacht rock” now, a group of musicians whose message is less urgent in social significance, and more casual in its delivery. The most recognizable song on this album is “The Weight”, is written by Robbie Robertson, featuring Levon Helm and Rick Danko on vocals.
I will continue to follow and study “The Band” in this exercise and beyond. In a sad footnote, keyboard player and vocalist Richard Manuel took his own life in Winter Park, Florida in 1986, approximately 3 years I made that town my home for 25 years. Their history, including the highly rated film “The Last Waltz” remain highly regarded in the music world, especially with the minds like those at Rolling Stone so closely linked to Dylan. I look forward to learning more, and hearing more along the way.