So it looks like we’re heading towards another lockdown and people are starting to go crazy and hoarding again, though some things being hoarded are quite bizarre. Take my elderly neighbour, he’s started to hoard newspapers and bottles of milk judging by his stack outside his front door.
Today’s double live classic rock album is 1972’s Rock of Ages: The Band in Concert by, unsurprisingly, The Band. It was compiled from recordings made during their series of shows at the Academy of Music in New York City, from December 28 through December 31, 1971. The Band booked a residency at the Academy of Music for the last week of 1971, culminating in a New Year’s Eve performance. Robbie Robertson had commissioned New Orleans songwriter and arranger Allen Toussaint to write special charts for a five-man horn section to augment the group on their upcoming concerts. Charts written by Toussaint in New Orleans were in luggage lost at the airport, and a new set was composed in a cabin near Robertson’s house in Woodstock. So was it worth the hassle for the horns? Let’s find out…
This is probably one of the best live albums I’ve heard in my life. I was never big on The Band; I knew of them as Dylan’s backing band when he went electric in ’64 and backed him again in the 70’s on Before The Flood live album (which will be featured soon), and a cover of The Shape I’m In by Leeds-based punk folk act The Mekons, but I’d never bought any records by them. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m an idiot (a recurring theme, you’ll find) and I’ve no idea why I didn’t buy anything by The Band. Hell, I’ve bought albums (plural) by Status Quo…. the eighties Quo albums! Anyway, back to the album: this is an absolute blast of a live album; it’s funky, fun, it makes you want to dance. The horns add a tonne of depth to their songs, the production is fantasticly crisp that helps to highlight The Band’s superb vocals and musicianship.
So is it excessive? No. Out of the 17 tracks, none of them are over 10 minutes; in fact there is only one track just under 8 minutes, the rest are perfect 4-5 minutes classic rock songs performed wonderfully. Except for Wheels On Fire, which I grew up listening to the Julie Driscol/Brian Auger and The Trinity’s slower, more psychedelic version, and here it seems to be played too fast for me. Would I listen to it again? Most definitely, in fact I’ll probably be checking out their back catalogue pretty soon. Would I recommend it? That’s another yes. Is there a drum solo? Not really, but the almost 8 minute song, Genetic Method, is just Garth Hudson noodling around on keyboards for no real reason; so a drum solo by another name then!
Despite the keyboard noodling, and a few little nit picky things, I’m giving Rock of Ages a whopping 9/10 and eagerly awaiting to relisten to this again. Another classic live rock album soon, TTFN!