Of the groups that are indisputably among the greatest of all time, the most criminally underappreciated has to be The Band, due reverence for which still seems to come only from critics and a devoted group of obsessives (like me). As The Hawks, they backed Ronnie Hawkins in the early 60s, and then Bob Dylan on Blonde on Blonde and his incendiary 1966 tour. Retiring to a house called "Big Pink" near Woodstock, New York, they recorded the "Basement Tapes" with Dylan, and then, striking out on their own and rechristened The Band, more or less invented the music we now call Americana (even though psychedelia was the order of the day and all but one bandmember -- drummer/vocalist/Arkansan Levon Helm -- was Canadian). In the process, they gave us some of the finest, most timeless music of the last 50 years (including two literally perfect albums, Music From Big Pink and The Band) and graced us with three of the greatest singers in rock history: my main man Levon (whose memoir, This Wheel's On Fire, is a fascinating read, by the way), and the late, great Rick Danko and Richard Manuel (gone way too soon, bless both their hearts). I wish I had time to write more in the way of introduction. Damn, I do love The Band.
This is probably by favorite Band boot, a show recorded in July of '76, only four months before "The Last Waltz," for the old King Biscuit Flower Hour radio broadcast. The performance is tight, the recording is terrific, and the setlist looks an awful lot like a greatest hits collection (if only Danko had done "Stage Fright" that night). It just doesn't get much better than this.
THE BAND - King Biscuit Flower Hour (Live at the Carter Baron Amphitheatre, Washington, D.C. - July 17, 1976*)
[Sorry, all, but we got a complaint and had to take this boot down.]
02 Baby Don't You Do It
03 The Shape I'm In
04 It Makes No Difference
05 The Weight
06 King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
09 Tears of Rage
10 Forbidden Fruit
11 This Wheel's On Fire
12 The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
13 The Genetic Method
14 Chest Fever
15 Up On Cripple Creek
16 W.S. Walcott Medicine Show
*The August date on the artwork is incorrect.