Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Five Best...The Band albums (#4)

#4. Cahoots

-I’m tempted to put Northern Lights, Southern Cross here but as a whole album, Cahoots works better. Like much of Stage Fright, this album leads off with a song, “Life is a Carnival,” that becomes stronger when performed at The Last Waltz. But it’s still a strong song with a great line in, “Hey, buddy, would you like to buy a watch?/ Here on the street/ I got six on each arm and two more ‘round my feet.” The next track is a Dylan cover but one that The Band takes to another level, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” Just like how Dylan only does Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower,” he also always uses the line The Band put into his song, “Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola.” Actually, “When I Paint…” is one of the stronger tracks from the Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration album, minus Robbie. The next great song on the album (and possibly its finest) is Richard Manuel’s duet with Van Morrison, “4% Pantomime.” It sounds exactly like a Morrison song (much repetition of words and names like “Oh, Richard!”) but with the sound that made The Band so classic. The rest of the album features no classics but a handful of good songs: “The Moon Struck One,” “Smoke Signal,” “Volcano” and “The River Hymn.”

On the re-mastered version that came out a few years ago, some of the bonus tracks include an alternate take of the stellar “Endless Highway,” an outtake of the great “Bessie Smith” from The Basement Tapes and an interesting version of the Marvin Gaye cover, “Don’t Do It.”

So, like I said, it’s a good album but nothing compared to the three albums that’ll be featured over the next three days. And no, High on the Hog is not one of them.

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