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You Tube Gold: The Last Waltz

The Band was superb but The Band with the Staple Singers? Yow.

The Band
(L-R) Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko of The Band pose for a group portrait in London in June 1971.
Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

Rock music has a sort of hit-and-miss history. The earliest days were amazing when it wafted up out of New Orleans. Then rockabilly erupted and that was cool too. Elvis was great until he lost his way. The British Invasion kind of rewired it all and then psychedelic music just went off the tracks.

Rock was brought back from the brink, as much as one band could it, by The Band. You can hear interviews with their contemporaries who just realized that their roots in older music grounded their work in ways that psychedelia could never hope to be.

So for Sunday, here are two great performances from their farewell show, The Last Waltz.

First is Up On Cripple Creek and second is The Weight. The Staple Singers covered that classic and join The Band for this version.

If you’ve never listened to some old Staple Singers, you really should. It’s spectacular. Their version of Will The Circle Be Unbroken is superb and like that classic, Samson and Delilah catches the band when “Pops” was still the main singer and before Mavis began her rise to immortality.