The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary 1
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The Last Waltz
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Available as a 4-CD/Blu-Ray set and — for the first time — the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the original soundtrack has 54 tracks, including the entire concert, as well as rehearsals and outtakes. Among the rarities are performances not featured in the film, such as “Furry Sings The Blues” with Joni Mitchell and “All Our Past Times” with Eric Clapton, plus rehearsals for “Caravan” with Van Morrison, “Such A Night” with Dr. John, and “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” a song that was not performed in concert. The CD version also includes newly-penned liner notes revered music journalists David Fricke and Ben Fong-Torres along with a classic essay from 1977 written by iconic author Emmett Grogan.
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I’m a bonafide The Band fanboy. I’ve listened to almost everything they’ve ever recorded, for the exception of a few bootlegs, which they didn’t record. As much as I love listening to this 40th Anniversary collection of a wonderful group’s final concert, it sure changes a lot… And unfortunately one of the bootlegs I’ve heard was the bootleg of this very concert.
My whole reason for bringing up the bootleg is that I feel like the music originally took a back seat to the whole of what the Last Waltz was intended to be. In my opinion, it was more of a production than anything, and as evidenced by some of the essays in the cool book that is included with this set, everybody was pissed off and dog tired.
To sum it up, the concert wasn’t the amazing show that they usually put on. They are professional musicians, but technical issues plagued the concert. Levon Helm even said that in his memoir. Circumstance threw off a lot of things, and still, that Thanksgiving day remains a successful one. One that, without a doubt, is lovingly preserved. But in order to preserve the music, they had to reshape it.
For instance, Genetic Method/Chest Fever on this collection is a minute of synth music and the minute of Chest Fever that has no singing. During the original concert, they were a little off vocally. But to top that off the whole song sounds nothing like it originally did in concert. As far as I know, Chest Fever has never been included on the album. I don’t see why Robbie Robertson felt it was important to include it now. Also, before Neil Young starts his performance, Robbie says, “Everybody knows him…” Before he’s introduced Young or anything. Everybody knows who? The set list is always changing on this album and it seems to come at a cost every single time. It’s as if Robertson wasn’t paying attention and split a file called “Last Waltz remaster” and the guest portion of the show was picked up after Ophelia. The Last Waltz Suite even gets touched up every once and while, notably cutting part of Helm’s harmony with Danko from The Weight, and bringing down the pitch on the whole track, and then in the film version putting Helm’s harmony back in and bringing the pitch back up, only to bring it back down when the harmony is finished.
The Last Waltz in a lot of ways feels like a digital effort more than anything, and goes to show pundits of the “computerized” generation of creators that a once in a lifetime event that happened a single time is subject to change time and time again. And, even still, I recommend it.
The music on the collection is beautiful, and for people who have just discovered The Band, or are just getting into music collecting of any kind, this album is the best way to start.
It’s got great tunes on it, and honestly, people have overdubbed concerts for years. Dissolving relationships had too much of an influence on the way the concert sounded. Who can blame anybody for that? The fact of the matter is that the intention of the concert was to represent as many sounds as possible, and The Band did just that.
This collection, complete with a book of essays and pictures, also comes with a Blu-ray copy of the film. Again, on its own, the film is wonderful. It depicts grizzled road warriors who’ve seen more in one life time than most men do, and have a lifetime’s worth of stories to tell. It also is a great depiction of what people are capable of. Levon Helm and Garth Hudson are the physical manifestation of “talent”. Seriously…nothing compares. In my opinion, The Band is the greatest band to ever record anything, so I’m a little biased, but it’s quite another story when nobody can disagree with the fact that there is absolutely nothing that sounds like The Band, never before nor after them. Their music is a testament to that, but it’s nice to see that the film represents that point just as much.
So, all in all, I think The Last Waltz is well worth your time. If nothing else, watch it for Thanksgiving, as it took place 40 years ago on the holiday.
The book is large and awesome.
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I just want to say thank you to Robbie.Read more