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Northern Lights - Southern Cross Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.6 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, May 8, 2001
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Product Description

An early alternate version of Twilight and an alternate version of Christmas Must Be Tonight grace this 1975 release, another Top 40-charting album for the Band!

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Hailed upon its arrival as a significant comeback for the Band, this 1975 collection hasn't aged as well as the likes of Stage Fright, Moondog Matinee, or even the outfit's post-Robbie Robertson output. The eight-song collection (augmented on the 2001 reissue with two agreeable extras--alternate versions of "Twilight" and "Christmas Must Be Tonight") isn't without its delights, foremost being Rick Danko's heavy-hearted reading of the devastating "It Makes No Difference." But for every "Forbidden Fruit" and "Ophelia"--worthy additions to Robertson's credits--there are the somewhat forced likes of "Jupiter Hollow" and "Rags and Bones." Also, Garth Hudson stocked up on the latest technology before heading into the studio, but the layers ARPs and mini-Moogs here contribute to a feeling of busyness. Northern Lights--Southern Cross is very much a '70s album--not a good thing from a quintet whose best music was tough to peg to any era. --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B00005B4GA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,528 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By M. Pagano on July 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
How I wish this had been the Band's last studio release, as it would have been a triumphant end to their tenure. Also, this album sounds more late 70's due to Garth's experimentation rather than the bland -Islands- that marked their departure (yes, it does have some good songs). Let's cut through the pork, firstly, as it must be recognized that It Makes No Difference is one of the finest love songs ever recorded. Ever. Period. Brings a tear to the eye every time, as it has struck a personal chord as it reminds me of an up-and-down relationship I stuggled to maintain control of, moslty due to my own mistakes. Danko's heartfelt vocals accompanied by Robertson's twangy, tearing-at-your-heartstrings solo make this an epic. This and Acadian Driftwood, a bittersweet and historic offering about the the boys native Canadaian land, represent the Band's most poignant songwriting. Not to say that other previously released material such as The Weight and Stage Fright don't penetrate deep into one's consciousness, but those two songs are fantastic. The rest of the album is pretty good too. Ophelia will occasionally get play from the local classic rock station, its a funky classic. I also enjoy Hobo Jungle and Jupiter Hollow. I have this album on vinal, but bought the re-release on disc a few years ago. The two added tracks, Twilight, and Christmas Must Be Tonight are excellent, especially Twilight. I cannot be pushed to say that this effort matches that of Big Pink or Stage Fright, but it is on the same plateau. A collective masterpiece that showcases the unique brand of folk-rock only the Band could bring.
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Format: Audio CD
"Northern Light, Southern Cross" was the last Band album that I really got into. Their first 3 albums were immediate favourites, but "Cahoots" was a disappointment and I did not like "Moondog Matinee" ( all old covers ) at all, when it was released in 1973; later I have come to appreciate that album too. I actually thought it was over with the Band. So I guess I never really gave "Northern Light, Southern Cross" the chance it needed and deserved, when I was first introduced to it around 1978. The songs somehow did not appeal to me at the time.
Luckily with the re-releases of all the Band`s original albums ( with bonus-tracks and great informative booklets ) I chose to give this album a new chance. Now I realize that this album is really among the Band`s finest; which says a lot!!
The original album consisted of only 8 tracks, which was due to the relatively long playing time of the songs. They recorded 9 songs for the album, but the great track "Twilight" never made it to the album, but was released as a 1976 single instead. The version included here is not the finished version, but an early take of it. "Christmas Must Be Tonight" is also an early version of the song; to get these 2 great songs in their finished shape, go for the re-release of
"Islands".
The opener "Forbidden Fruit" is a typical Band-rocker sung by Levon Helm, in his best "Stage Fright" style; this is one of the longest tracks and it features some of Robertson`s rare guitar-solo work. Sadly some Band members did not take the warning in the song seriously enough.
The ballad "Hobo Jungle" is beautifully sung by Richard Manuel; a song that is somehow often overlooked. One of my favourites on the album.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Band's sixth and final proper studio album (I don't really count Islands, the collection of half-hearted studio outtakes, as a real album), Northern Lights - Southern Cross is a surprisingly strong comeback in both writing and performance. The Band hadn't released an album of new material since the disappointing Cahoots, and the extracurricular substance-related activities of Richard Manuel and Rick Danko lessened their songwriting output considerably (completely in Manuel's case). However, despite their stumbles and a growing divergence of some members (guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson would be ready to leave the group not long after the album was released), the quintet pull off amazing comeback album, filled with what originally made The Band so classic--great writing, strong playing from Manuel, Danko and Levon Helm, and expert playing, especially from organist/multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson.

The album kicks off with the rocking "Forbidden Fruit," a cautionary tale sung by Helm. One thing I actually like about Robertson's somewhat egotistical prominence in the later Band material is his up-front, gnarly guitar--he starts using the whammy bar on this album, and the results are wicked to say the least. He takes a few blistering solos in "Forbidden Fruit" that make you wonder if he sold his soul for his guitar skills. This song also marks Garth Hudson's introduction of (then) new synthesizers into his arsenal of keyboards. It might off-put you if you're a classic Americana Band fan, but give it a chance--it really grew on me. Regardless of the instrument, it's still being played by the bearded master, Garth Hudson.
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