The Band – Cahoots – Capitol/Mobile Fidelity stereo-only SACD UDSACD 2045 ****:
(Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson)
Bob Dylan’s backing band began to step out of his shadow in the mid 1960s and did some great studio albums. Originally calling themselves The Hawks, they played some on Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. For their 1968 debut LP on their own – Music from Big Pink – Capitol changed the band’s name to The Band, and Dylan joined them on three tracks. Their 1969 album was titled The Band.
In 1971 The Band did two albums, Stage Fright, and this one, Cahoots – with a back cover photo of them with their eyes shut, by Richard Avendon. They’re not quite as good here as on Big Pink but still masters at their completely distinctive blend of rock, country, folk and who knows what else. The opening tune, Life is a Carnival, was arranged by Allen Toussaint, and Dylan’s When I Paint My Masterpiece is their second track. Van Morrison was involved in 4% Pantomime. Where Do We Go From Here? was one of their classic tunes. The individual voices and instruments are etched with great clarity in the hi-res two-channel processing, and all the lyrics are printed in the note insert. If you’re a fan of The Band and want to hear them at their sonic best, this SACD is the thing. (After doing Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz extravaganza and three-LP set in 1976, The Band split up.)
Life is a Carnival, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Last of the Blacksmiths, Where Do We Go From Here?, 4% Pantomime, Shoot Out in Chinatown, The Moon Struck One, Thinkin’ Out Loud, Smoke Signal, Volcano, The River Hymn
– John Henry