Almanac Music: The Band (The Brown Album)



The Band remain one of my all time favourite groups.


From the moment I first heard ‘The Weight’ and ‘I Shall Be Released’ from  their first album Music From The Big Pink in 1969 I was hooked. As a Bob Dylan fan I was aware of their reputation through Bob’s use of them as his backing band during his world tour in 1966. And it was not long before word filtered out about their own music, a musical style that was an antithesis to the current trends at the time. Heavy psychedelic rock ‘n roll was the norm whereas The Band played an eclectic form of countrified music reflecting their musical and rural roots, possibly a fore runner to what is now known as ‘Americana’ today.


The Band were blessed with outstanding musicians, all were multi-instrumentalists, with three excellent vocalists in Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko sharing the vocal duties, and of course their songwriting capabilities, mainly Robbie Robertson.


After the success of Music From The Big Pink,  regarded by many to be a watershed moment in popular music, it created  pressure on The Band to maintain and exceed their creative input with their follow up album. The response exceeded all expectations, and is considered one of the great albums of all time.


All the songs on this album are classics but my favourite is ‘Rockin’ Chair’. Please enjoy some of the superb songs from this outstanding album.



Rockin’ Chair
Richard Manuel: 1st Lead Vocal
Levon Helm: 2nd Lead Vocal & Mandolin
Rick Danko: Bass & Back Vocal
Robbie Robertson: Acoustic Guitar
Garth Hudson: Accordion




The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Levon Helm: Lead Vocal & Drums
Rick Danko: Back Vocal & Bass & Violin
Richard Manuel: Back Vocal & Piano
Robbie Robertson: Acoustic Guitar
Garth Hudson: Melodica & Slide Trumpet



The Unfaithful Servant
Rick Danko: Lead Vocal & Bass & Trombone
Levon Helm: Back Vocal & Drums
Richard Manuel: Piano & Bariton Sax
Robbie Robertson: Acoustic Guitar
Garth Hudson: Soprano Sax
John Simon: Tuba




Up On Cripple Creek
Levon Helm: Lead Vocal & Drums
Rick Danko: Back Vocal & Bass
Richard Manuel: Back Vocal & Piano
Robbie Robertson: Electric Guitar
Garth Hudson: Clavinette (through a Wah-Wah Effect) & Lowrey Organ



To read Ian Hauser’s response featuring The Band’s album Rock of Ages click here.


You can read more from Col Ritchie 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 Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Tony Taylor says

    I have Great Divide, Rag Mama Rag, Dixie, Cripple Creek, Jemima Surrender, Look Out Cleveland and King Harvest on my Spotify.

  2. Now you’re talking Col. Probably my favourite band of all time. Their songs manage to sound old and modern at the same time. Timeless. Robertson one of the greatest songwriters. Helm, Danko and Manuel all unique and powerful singers – giving them 3 distinct sounds. And then Garth Hudson’s organ/keyboard filling every gap with power and dread. Bach on dope. Like a Boris Karloff soundtrack played on the pedal organ in the picture theatres of our childhoods.
    Whispering Pines is a favourite because of Richard Manuel’s ethereal voice. But as a boxer used to say “I love youse all”.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    Mine too PB. One of my regrets was not seeing The Band perform live; got close once though. I was living in London in ’74, The Band and CSNY were to play at a festival mid ’74 but my true love was calling and I returned home believing they’d tour Oz at a later stage. Unfortunately, the original The Band did not. Richard Manuel is a story within itself, his slow self destruction I believe was a major reason for the group deciding to disband. Some of those late videos of RM performing are quite sad, to see such a talent slowly fading away was tragic.

  4. Yes CR, a terrific band. This album and the live album, Rock of Ages are their standouts.

    You probably know this song from Drive-By Truckers (written by Jason Isbell). It’s a reflective paean to Manuel and Danko.


  5. Good work Col. Love The Band. Aside from their more well known cuts, I am very fond of ‘Daniel and the Sacred Harp’. It’s part Biblical parable part 1850s Americana rolled into one.
    Highly recommend The Band/Robbie Robertson film ‘Once Were Brothers’ on Prime if you haven’t already seen.

  6. Col, The Band were aptly named. Without peer in some respects. Crazily, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is now a hotly debated topic for the cancel crowd, the voice in that song being southern and therefore imbued with sin.
    Rick there is the most wonderful live version of Danko/Manuel on youtube played by Isbell and the 400 Unit.
    9 minutes long
    That’s not actually a link is it. Damn.

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