Almanac Music – The Band: Rock of Ages (The Black Album)

 

 

 

Yesterday, Col Ritchie featured his favourite album by The Band – you can read that here. These guys also happen to be one of my favourites and one of their albums, Rock of Ages, is probably in my top twenty albums of all time. It’s certainly one of my top two live albums along with The Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya Yas Out. I have to admit that I’m also partial to The Band’s concert/film/record The Last Waltz, one of the best rock films.

 

So, Col, it’s a case of ‘I see your Brown Album and raise you my Black Album!

 

It’s 50 years ago next month since the group recorded four concerts over consecutive nights culminating on New Year’s Eve. After further production, the album was released as a double LP in August 1972. I bought a copy very early on.

 

This collection features songs from their earlier studio albums plus one new song, ‘Get up Jake’. It’s other distinguishing feature is the inclusion of a horn section especially for these concerts and, boy, do they add an extra layers of breadth and depth to the overall sound!

 

While I love the whole album, it’s Side 4 that particularly excites me. There are just three songs. Garth Hudson’s ‘The Genetic Method’ is an organ inspired, almost 8-minute, free-wheeling tour de force through a range of music styles mixed with humour, panache, subtlety and power to segue into Robbie Robertson’s ‘Chest Fever’, five and a half minutes of high tempo rock about a bloke who gets sick when his girl spurns him. And, finally, after shouts of ‘More! More!’ from the audience, they launch into the Chuck Willis standard, ‘(I don’t want to) Hang up my rock’n’roll shoes’. It’s a blaze and a blast, an outpouring of musical skills, total energy and raw emotion. I don’t know what the last song was that The Band played in public, but I hope it was this one as it befits one last ‘thank you and goodbye’. (I’ll have this album on in the background as I edit the site today.)

 

Here’s ‘The Weight’ from the album.

 

 

To read an article that argues that Rock of Ages is the greatest live album ever, click here.

 

To read an essay about Rock of Ages from Rolling Stone magazine, click here.

 

 

We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Great stuff. Agree that it’s the greatest Rock live album of all time.
    My fave takes a softer note. Having the CD with bonus tracks added after the LP includes 4 songs with Bob Dylan and a soulful R&B tribute “Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever” – a 1966 Four Tops classic written by a very Little Stevie Wonder. Never fails to lift my mood.
    But like a Sobers, Gower or Lara century – how do you choose a favourite?

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    What can one say IJH but simply the best! Great version of ‘The Weight’, superb live rendition.

  3. PB and Col, I’ve been listening as I work this morning – currently into the bonus tracks. Bliss!

  4. While I also really enjoy side 4, I also thoroughly enjoy the version of Get Up Jake.

  5. Ian, I will give this album a listen. Strangely I think I’ve missed it ’til now. But for live albums it’s Ya Yas first and then Full House by the J Geils Band. A virtually unknown blast of brilliance.
    And, not rock, but live, is Bob Marley and the Wailers Live at The Lyceum.
    The movie of The Last Waltz is brilliant as is the record. Joni hiding in a tent out the back doing backup vocals for Neil so no one knows she’s there.

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