THE BAND – Live in Charleston 1994 (Live on Vinyl – LOVL2027)

Live In Charleston 1994Although The Band called it a day in the late 1970s (as famously documented in Martin Scorsese’s  The Last Waltz) they did re-emerge in the early ‘80s, albeit with an altered line up. This time, there was no Robbie Robertson and although Richard Manuel would initially reunite with the group, sadly, he took his own life in the middle of the decade. Nonetheless, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko kept on keepin’ on (to borrow a phrase), eventually cracking a new audience through their 1993 LP, Jericho. This recording, Live in Charleston 1994, is a live representation of their work in this era.

While the album is mostly made up of live takes from the aforementioned Jericho record, it is the old jazz standard, ‘Caledonia’, which begins the show. The up-beat, funky and blues-esque ‘Remedy’ then follows – only being let down by the various inconsistencies in the sound which plague the first few numbers. Towards the end of side 1 however, this appears to have been addressed somewhat and classic Band numbers like ‘It Makes No Difference’ and ‘The Weight’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ all come out wonderfully played and relatively unscathed.

The set concludes with the encore; ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’, also from Jericho. While the 12-bar blues number is a pretty solid listen in itself, the live recording fades to silence before the song reaches a ‘real life’ conclusion, providing very little closure to the set being presented as an album.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Atlantic City’ – live in 1994:

RICK DANKO RICHARD MANUEL & GARTH HUDSON – Live At The Lonestar, NYC, 1985 (Floating World FLOATM6380)

Live At The LonestarLive At The Lonestar, NYC, 1985 is the third and final of a set of new bootleg releases of Band alumni for this year. The sound is good and the trio, with collected years of experience behind them, are tight. Danko handles the majority of the lead vocals: ‘Mystery Train’, ‘Crazy Mama’, ‘Java Blues’ and ‘It Makes No Difference’ were staples of his solo live performances.

They kick off with two of those looseners: ‘Mystery Train’ and ‘Crazy Mama’, before tackling some of The Band’s biggest hits. The fourth track is listed as ‘The Rumor’ but it isn’t and the person who wrote the sleeve notes either didn’t listen to the recording or didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about – probably both. They actually play a long soulful version of ‘Every Night And Every Day’ by Chicago bluesman Magic Sam. It took me about two minutes to track it down – gissa job!

The first actual Band original is ‘Shape I’m In’ followed by another impassioned reading of ‘It Makes No Difference’. ‘Across The Great Divide’ and ‘Stage Fright’ follow and finally Richard Manuel gets up front to sing a soulful piano-led ‘She Knows’ – apparently it was his birthday. Danko returns with ‘Unfaithful Servant’ before Hudson has his moment in the spotlight with the pairing of ‘The Genetic Method’ and ‘Chest Fever’. A really loose ‘Java Blues’ with a belting break from Hudson and ‘I Shall be Released’ wrap up the recording although not the party.

The songs have a new freedom without Levon Helm’s drums and you can feel Manuel and Hudson responding to Danko’s singing. Little things like Richard’s piano on ‘Unfaithful Servant’ with its new variations on the original recording make this set a particular delight

Dai Jeffries

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‘She Knows’ featuring Richard Manuel: