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Endless Highway - The Music Of The Band

31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 30, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's been 30 years since 'The Last Waltz' and the music lives on. This is the first ever all star celebration of one of rock's legendary groups - The Band. Paticipating artists have cumulative Soundscan of more than 30 million albums! A musical celebration of rock's legendary group with performance by Jack Johnson, Rosanne Cash, Steve Reynolds and more. Classic rock is enjoying a huge resurgence among youger audiences.

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The Band's highway actually ended in 1978 at The Last Waltz, with the departure of founding member, guitarist, and principal songwriter Robbie Robertson. Considered by many to be ground zero of the roots-and-Americana movement despite being four-fifths Canadian, their decade-long Robertson-led run produced a handful of undeniable classics and volumes of timeless and influential music. So it's somewhat surprising that no one has released a tribute album to this legendary group until now. But after listening to these 17 tracks, it's clear why. Even with the best of intentions, many of these versions fail to capture the emotion and intensity of the original performances. All but the UK's Gomez are American-based, yet with a few notable exceptions, the acts either mimic the Band's already archetypal arrangements or add nothing unique. Bruce Hornsby sings the lyrics of the touching "King Harvest" like he's reading them off cue cards, Guster zip through a chilly "This Wheel's on Fire" with little emotional attachment, and Jack Johnson's folksy "I Shall Be Released" squanders the song's gospel tendencies. The women fare far better, with Lee Ann Womack nailing the subtleties of "The Weight" in a lovely, nuanced country interpretation, the Roches' unplugged sisterly harmonies bringing a gorgeous and appropriate back-porch feel to "Acadian Driftwood," and Rosanne Cash turning in a tender and touching "The Unfaithful Servant." Jakob Dylan and Lizz Wright do justice to the sensitive "Whispering Pines" and rockers Widespread Panic, the Allman Brothers Band, and My Morning Jacket add appropriate Southern grit to their selections. Ultimately, though, these covers make you appreciate how flawlessly the Band realized their own music and provided consummate arrangements that cannot be improved on. --Hal Horowitz

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
  • Sample this album Title - Artist (Sample)
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by Guster
3:24
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4:11
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4:48
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by Gomez
4:37
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5:03
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3:18
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 30, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: April 30, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Savoy
  • ASIN: B000JMJVPY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,005 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Horror writer from TN on February 3, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This tribute is long overdue, but turns in some outstanding renditions of the Band's most popular songs. Among the best are Widespread Panic's rocking version of "Chest Fever", The Allman Brothers Band's live cover of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", but perhaps the best song on the entire CD is from My Morning Jacket, with their version of "It Makes No Difference". This is a really great CD.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. Wiese on February 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The Band is a musical icon, covering/replicating their songs seems to me to be virtually impossible. They are perhaps the group that most understood and reflected the roots and sensibilities of American music in our time. The Big Pink album is among the top few records that I consider most influential on me. But, what a surprise "Endless Highway: The Music of the Band," does what I considered not to be possible. The versions of The Band songs are a credit to both artists who interpret the music with reverence and the timelessness of the songs themselves. Think of the songs that really stand the test of time, there are mighty few. There is danger in trying to cover definitive versions of songs, but this record succeeds mightily. I just can't pick a favorite track, but some are standouts; the Allman Brothers live performance of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and Blues Traveler's "Rag Mama Rag." My Morning Jacket nails "It Makes No Difference," and The Roches version of "Acadian Driftwood" is inspiring. Lee Ann Womack's amazingly powerful version of "The Weight" is most unexpected. Death Cab for Cutie's take on "Rockin' Chair" is stunning and Steve Reynolds' "Stage Fright" adds surreal spookiness that works perfectly. I always thought the definitive version of "Chest Fever" was Three Dog Night's version, now I have a new favorite - Widespread Panic.

For fans of the band, this record is a treat, for those unfamiliar with The Band, this record will make them a fan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By former Amazon customer on February 7, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Of course these renditions aren't going to be as good as the originals. As noted in some of the other reviews, the Band's strength lies in more than just great songwriting; their performance skills were special and really cannot be duplicated. That being said, this is a very good album. Almost every song is done justice, except for the so-called Allman Brothers Band. Death Cab for Cutie's "Rocking Chair" and Guster's "Wheel's On Fire" really add something new. The Roches "Acadian Driftwood" sounds like Robbie was thinking of them when he wrote it. It seems like Buddy Miller's time on the Sweet Harmony Traveling Review was time well spent considering how much he adds to Lee Ann Womack's "The Weight". My Morning Jacket's "It Makes No Difference" is surprisingly close to the Band's without being a slavish imitation. Even the lesser performances are worth a listen.

Please note that the order of the tracks as posted on Amazon is completely wrong.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on February 2, 2007
Format: Audio CD
There seem to be a plethora of tribute albums coming out over the last few years -- record labels seem to be trying to milk every excess dollar they can out of their catalog. So it's a welcome relief when the results are as consistently excellent as this collection. Every song on here seems to be labor of love -- from Lee Ann Womack's sweet take on "The Weight", to a powerful "Chest Fever" by Widespread Panic, to the Allman Brothers doing justice to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". Even the weak points of this album are still as good as anything that's come out lately... this could be the Americana album of the year.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By tadcranky on February 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a cd I've been waiting for for a long time. Here goes, track by track:

This Wheel's on Fire, by Guster: Guster is a band that seems to be successful, and gets a lot of attention, for reasons I don't really understand. They continue to leave me unimpressed with their dirge-like version of a song that deserves a lot more life. There are some cool banjo moments, but that's about it. In The Band's version, Levon Helm attacks his snare drum; in this version, the Guster drummer gives some gentle nudges. I prefer the attack.

King Harvest, by Bruce Hornsby: Hornsby bebops his way through an otherwise jam-bandish version of another great song. This also suffers from the lack of the aggressive drumming that contributed to The Band's greatness.

Makes No Difference, by My Morning Jacket: MMJ is a younger band that I like, even though sometimes I get them mixed up with Kings of Leon. I like this version, it does a great job of capturing the spirit of The Band, in part because of the multiple vocalists. This was recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock.

I Shall Be Released, by Jack Johnson: Pretty much the low point, as Jack Johnson whispers his way through a song that I don't think is meant to be whispered through.

The Weight, by Lee Ann Womack: I really can't stand commercial country music, but I like authentic country, and I wasn't quite sure which category Womack fit into, as I know she's a high profile artist. Based on this, she's the real thing, though, as she gives a sweet version of the song. Initially, I was also struck by how great the back-up vocals were. On review, they were provided by Buddy and Julie Miller, which explains the greatness. If you can't have the Staples Singers singing back-up, the Millers are pretty fine.
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