16 Songs, 1 Hour

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Ratings and Reviews

4.3 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

Vail Beach ,

Even a great group like The Band has to have a “worst album"

This album was a significant letdown for fans of the Band after three classics — Music from Big Pink, The Band (brown album) and Stage Fright. It was clear that the burden of writing all the songs had depleted Robbie Robertson’s writing gifts. The whole album carries an air of exhaustion and perhaps too much coke and rye. Nonetheless, there are some wonderful cuts on this record — it’s about half-good. If you’re downloading selectively, be sure to add “Life is a Carnival,” the album’s one no-doubt songwriting masterpiece; “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” a beautifully atmospheric cover version of a Bob Dylan song that, up till when this was released wasn’t widely known; “4% Pantomime,” a loose but fun duet between Richard Manuel and Van Morrison; “Smoke Signal,” which marries an excellent lyric with a serviceable tune; and “The River Hymn,” which does the opposite — kind of a cliche-ridden lyric but a gorgeous tune and arrangement. The rest ranges from the mediocre (“The Moon Struck One”) to the horrible (“Shoot Out in Chinatown,” “Last of the Blacksmiths”) that seem almost like parodies of the Band. If you’re a Band newbie, definitely avoid this — the Greatest Hits collection has the two best tracks, and the rest can wait until you’re a committed fan like me.

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