Nigel Pulsford on lost-classic guitar albums you must hear
The Band Rock Of Ages Capitol Records (1972) The Band found themselves at something of a crossroads by the end of 1971. They had released three superb albums but their latest Cahoots had been rather coolly received and the trappings of fame were making working rather challenging. This classic live album, recorded on New Year’s Eve 1971, was the way they chose to put their troubles behind them.
On record The Band were often laid back, playing with beautiful understatement, apparently loose and bombast-free. For the concerts they put on at the end of 1971 they added a brass section, sympathetically arranged by Alan Toussaint and stepped it up a notch. The result is a raucous, joyous noise. A celebration of their roots, influences and astonishing individual talents, which, when combined, created a wondrous whole. Guitarist Robbie Robertson’s incendiary lead breaks, channelling a marriage of country twang and rock ‘n’ roll phrasing work in tandem with keyboard maestro Garth Hudson’s flourishes to orchestrate the music. The rhythm section powers along while the three lead voices perfectly fit the mood of the songs. Robertson, 1965 Telecaster and Fender Twin powered, takes it even higher. The original double album is a great way to sample the wonder that was The Band. [NP] Further listening: Music From Big Pink, Stage Fright, Northern Lights Southern Cross