The Band may not be from Lake Charles, Louisiana, as mentioned in ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ or heading there any time soon. But the Canadian group struck gold with their second studio album featuring several of the band’s most historic songs, such as ‘Up On Cripple Creek.” Even though The Band sticks to their iconic sound in this album, this record features an old Americana theme. It explores the idea of what you might expect out of old western days, in comparison to the first album. The Band not only kept old fans hooked but also drew in new fans with one of the most notably acclaimed releases in rock music history.
Each song has a unique sound to fit into the Americana/historic theme and all flow into each other to create an extremely enjoyable listening experience. When you listen to The Band, you might start to think that they sound oddly similar to Bob Dylan. However this is due to their close working relationship over the years and constant influence they had on each other. Their sound consists of a folk and country-rock feel where they are diving into the roots of rock music, both musically and lyrically.
Besides the sound, the album’s content is full of interesting surprises ranging from instruments to uncommon time signatures. The band draws elements from more instruments than just the guitar, drums, and bass. They also bring in sounds from the trombone, piano, saxophones, the accordion and others. For example, the song “Jawbone” was composed in an unusual time signature (6/4) and has a strong piano part that helped to bring an additional flair to the album instead of what the listener would have expected.
Unlike their first record, which featured tracks written by Bob Dylan, this one is completely written and composed by Robbie Robertson and other members of the group. The occasional help from other artists is often appreciated but it is always wonderful to see an entire album written and composed by the band members. It can be an overlooked feature but when this happens the bands passion truly shows in each song as well as a deeper attachment to their music.
The Band is also features several of the artists best-known and adored songs such as “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Rag Mama Rag.” These three tracks are often the ‘go-to-favorites’ of the album and songs that you’ll be singing all day long. Fans will also be drawn to the other tracks such as “Jawbone,” “Across the Great Divide,” and “Jemima Surrender” due to the continuing uniqueness of each song and making each one memorable.
The actual album cover and design compliments the work and theme as well. At first glance, The Band portrays a record that will have an older, Americana theme to it. The overall color design of the picture and border reminding the listener of an older time in music and going back to basics of folk, blues, and the roots of where so many artists today drew their inspiration.
The Band kept the same folk-sound throughout the years, only changing their musical style slightly. Fans who listen to The Band will always love their historic favorites but at the same time there will always be something new for them to discover in the sound or lyrics with each listen. The Band represents the roots of rock music and will for years to come.
The Band set the bar high with their self-titled album. It involves so many different elements it is hard not to love or respect. Many historic bands are able to credit themselves with the ability to be an influence on future bands; however The Band has the accomplishment of also influencing bands of their era including the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and Elton John. They were a powerhouse and were often mentioned with other artists such as the Beatles.
From this album particularly they produced several Billboard hits, were considered in several greatest album lists and greatest song lists. Robert Christgau, an iconic music journalist and essayist, even declared this album (A+) better than the Beatles’ Abbey Road (only released a few days after The Band), a feat that not many bands can say they accomplished.
The Band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Then in 2008 The Band received the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. However this is all completely understandable due to their eight albums that were released after The Band and two additional albums with Bob Dylan in the early to mid-70’s.
Besides influencing bands of their time, their iconic style has been influential to newer bands such as the Counting Crows and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The Band continually joins new lists put out yearly with greatest bands, albums, and songs of all time. Even though they didn’t start the genre, they have such a strong foot in the folk, Americana, and country-rock scene. The Band is a godfather to the folk-rock scene and has paved the way for future bands that can only hope to achieve the same success they did.
Reviewer: Erica Garber
IRC: John Moore
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