Released in 1970, the Band’s third album showed the earthy vibe of Music from Big Pink and The Band evolving into something darker, as the group confronted internal tensions and addiction.
That evolution is at the center of this reissue, which re-sequences the album (to align with guitarist Robbie Robertson’s original vision) and offers new mixes. “Time to Kill” and “Just Another Whistle Stop,” featured Robertson’s penetrating guitar work, as well as future staples like the title track and “The Shape I’m In.” The album was also engineered by a 22-year-old whiz kid you may know – Todd Rundgren.
This expanded edition includes tracks cut in a Calgary hotel room, but the real diamond is a June, 1971, recording from London’s Royal Albert Hall. While The Last Waltz remains their most famous live album, this previously unreleased show has top-shelf versions of “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek.” On “W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” Robbie spanks a humbucker-fitted Tele while trading solos with Garth Hudson’s sax.
A companion piece to the famous Rock of Ages live album (recorded several months later), this Stage Fright-era document shows the road-tested Band playing with purpose and precision, very much in their prime.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.