Garth Hudson & Various Artists- A Canadian Celebration of The Band   Leave a comment


Garth Hudson & Various Artists A Canadian Celebration of The Band Curve Music

I bought this one at Chapters  on impulse, having not seen very much- if any- press on it. I’m glad I trusted my gut.

One doesn’t need to describe the impact The Band had on roots and rock music. The influence is obvious with each listen to an album from The Sadies, Blue Rodeo, and even the Cowboy Junkies.

Those artists and more than a dozen others contribute renditions of (largely) less familiar songs from The Band’s vast catalogue: therefore, no “The Weight,” no “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” no “Rag Mama Rag,” or “Up On Cripple Creek” here.

Instead, Mary Margaret O’Hara and The Sadies deliver a devastating and beautiful “Out of the Blue” and Great Big Sea take on “Knockin’ Lost John.” Songs from Moondog Matinee, Cahoots, The Basement Tapes, and Jericho are alongside more familiar cuts such as “King Harvest” (Blue Rodeo) and “Acadian Driftwood” (Peter Katz & The Curious.) A raucous and bluesy take of “Forbidden Fruit” from Danny Brooks & the Rockin’ Revelators kicks off things off, setting the bar high for all that follow.

With the exception of select performances, this tribute album is successful. The Sadies’ performance of “The Shape I’m In” is beautifully balanced by Raine Maida’s “The Moon Struck One” and Chantal Kreviazuk’s “Tears of Rage.”

Everything hinges on Garth Hudson holding things together, and it is his distinctive approach to each song that is the thread that weaves the project into a solid creation.  From his signature introduction to “Chest Fever” (done here by Ian Thornley with guitar accompaniment from Bruce Cockburn)- “Genetic Method”- to the waves of organ colouring Neil Young and The Sadies’ ragged but right take of “This Wheel’s on Fire,” Hudson’s sound remains true.

While personal taste will dictate if one enjoys the contributions of folks such as Suzi McNeil or The Roadhammers, those immersed in roots/Canadiana should find the album purchase worthy.

While nothing can compare to The Bands’ original recordings, this energetic and enjoyable 75-minute celebration of their songs has much to recommend it.

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