Tag: levon helm

MUSIC WEEK | ***THE BAND WEEK*** Rick Danko – In Concert (1997)

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After Levon Helm, Rick Danko might be my favourite singer in The Band.  While Helm brings a backwoods, southern grittiness to anything he sings, Danko’s voice is more polished, but still ready to unleash on a little rock and roll.  He’s also a northerner, originally from Canada, settling on New York, with a northern approach and sound that is a great counterpoint to Helm’s Arkansas roots.  So when I knew I was gonna sink my teeth into The Band and some of their various solo and side projects, Danko was one of the solo projects I was most excited about.  But I’ll be buggered if I was able to track down a copy of his one and only solo, studio album, 1977’s self titled Rick Danko.  So, resorting to Spotify, the best alternative I could find was 1997’s, In Concert.


I like live albums as a gateway to a band or artist.  They’re often a good, best of collection to get a quick overview.  But I generally don’t like them for writing about a band or artists here.  I like that an album is a snapshot of a band or artist at specific time, and also a snapshot of the world at that specific time.   But, beggar’s can’t be choosers, so Live in Concert it is, spanning 30 years of Rock Danko’s song writing life. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | ***THE BAND WEEK*** Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson (1987)

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Robbie Robertson is an amazing guitarist.  Robbie Robertson is an amazing songwriter.  Robbie Robertson is a big part of what made The Band so amazing in general.  What Robbie Robertson is not, is an amazing singer.  In The Band days, the extent of his vocals was usually reserved for when all five members were joining in as a backing chorus.  So, while I love his work, I was a little trepidatious about listening to a Robbie Robertson solo joint.  Could his expert musicianship make up for his less than stellar vocals?  In the end, I decided that his expert musicianship was more than enough reason to take the plunge on his self titled Robbie Robertson.


Fallen Angle is a great opening track to set my mind at ease.  Ethereal and all atmosphere, it’s sweeping soundscape lends itself to gentle, restrained vocals.  And when Robertson does push his voice, it’s pushed perfectly, just within his range.  It’s also a great use of 80s era instruments and production, while being just different enough to note sounded totally dated and locked in the 80s. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | ***THE BAND WEEK*** The Band – Music From Big Pink (1968)

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Generally, the term super group is used when two or three members from two or three successful bands get together to form a new one.  But in the 60s, The Band were a different kind of super group.  Nowhere near household names, they were best known as The Hawks, the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins, and more notoriously, the backing band for Bob Dylan.  But The Band was a bona fide supergroup.  Five amazingly accomplished musicians, multi instrumentalists and songwriters.  And a minimum of four of them more than up to the task of being the front man.


I’ve claimed to love The Band ever since I saw Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, but I recently realised that my claim might be a bit false, since The Last Waltz soundtrack is the only Band album I’ve ever listened to.  And while I’ve listened to it countless times, I should probably dig a little deeper before I can legitimately claim to love them.  So, digging deeper I am, starting with Music From Big Pink. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | ***THE BAND WEEK*** Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes (1975)

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I’ve never been a big Bob Dylan fan.  I don’t like folk music in general, and I’ve never brought myself to give his electric era a proper listen.  When I wrote about his seminal Blonde on Blonde, I said, “I still don’t get Bob Dylan. I still don’t expect any sort of Dylan epiphany where I finally see the light. But after listening to Blonde on Blonde, I do have a handful of Dylan songs that I will most probably listen to again, by choice. So that’s not an unsubstantial result.”  So, faint praise at best.


While I don’t like Dylan all that much, I love Martin Scorsese.  Which lead to watching his amazing documentary, The Last Waltz.  Following The Band as they perform they’re last ever gig, it made me love The Band.  Which was a surprise, because before seeing The Last Waltz, all I knew about them was that they were Bob Dylan’s backing band for a while.  Re-listening to the The Last Waltz soundtrack recently, I had a thought; Maybe The Band could be my gateway to finally understanding Dylan.   So here I am, listening to a Dylan album, backed by The Band, with The Basement Tapes. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

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“If you’re born in Kentucky you’ve got three choices; coal mine, moonshine or move it on down the line.”

Loretta Lynn is pretty famous.  Famous enough that I know her name.  Famous enough that I know she was a country singer.  Famous enough that they made a biopic about her.  Famous enough the I knew that movie existed 35 years after it was made.  But not famous enough that I know any more than that about her.  So is her story interesting and worth telling?  Well, Coal Miner’s Daughter never really proved that to me.


It’s the 40s in Kentucky, which means the 14 year old Loretta (soon to be) Lynn (Sissy Spacek) is old enough to be considered a woman.  When she’s not helping raise one of her dozen or so siblings, she’s busy being wooed by Doolittle Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones).  Back from the war, he’s a cocky loudmouth who takes what he wants, and decides he wants the teenaged Loretta.  Against his better wishes, her father (Levon Helm as the titular coal miner) gives his blessing and soon Doolittle has knocked up Loretta no less than four times. (more…)