If “Music from Big Pink” subtly shook things up in the music world, this eponymous follow-up from The Band was clearly designed to pick up where it left off.
Much like its predecessor, it’s pretty innocuous on the first couple of listens – there’s warmth and some big band theatrics, sure, but this sounds like a plain old Southern folk-rock album. It was only when I started repeating plays that it started to open up.
“The Band” (aka “The Brown Album”) is a love letter to the South. From the opener “Across the Great Divide” through highlights like “Jawbone” and “Up on Cripple Creek” it’s rich and poetic, with superb production values.
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a great example of this, a painful tale of the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering in the south, and probably remains their biggest hit. Joan Baez also managed to do a rather nifty cover too.
My personal highlight though is the lighter but still kind-of-rocking “Rag Mama Rag”, which has some piano work that would make Jerry Lee Lewis take a tea break.
Maybe “The Band” doesn’t have the wow factor that defined its predecessor, but it’s not an album to be underestimated. And certainly not one to listen to just once.