For everyone who listens to popular music there are always albums that for one reason or another stand out in their minds. Some of them are of personal significance, like the first album you ever bought, and some of them take on a little more meaning.
The first album I ever bought was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and it will always retain a special place in my heart. I got in 1969 in exchange for a Christmas present that hadn't worked or something like that at a post holiday sale and held onto the disc for more then thirty years. Since that time there have been other albums that have taken on various different types of significance for me, and like everyone else, they were evaluated according to my own special criteria.
We all have our own means of judging why we think a piece of music or an album is important. That's why when I first heard about Eagle Rock Entertainment's reissue of the VH1 Classic Albums series of DVDs I was a mite suspicious of what was going to be deemed a "Classic" by the people at VH1, and whether I was going to agree with any of their selections.
I also wondered what the hell are they going to do for an hour on tape — sit around and interview people talking about how great they had been? But, after viewing two releases — Catch A Fire by Bob Marley and The Wailers and Aja by Steely Dan — I realized that wasn't the case. In fact, they were pretty fascinating documentaries on how an album is assembled, and the history of the groups involved.
Over the next week or so I'm going to be reviewing four more DVDs from this series starting with what I still think was the best "roots rock album" ever recorded — even though the genre didn't even exist in those days: The Band by the Band. Aside from the confusion about the title of the album and the title of the group it and the album that preceded it (Music From Big Pink) those have always been the two albums I automatically associate with The Band.
Contained within those two albums are almost every song that you associate with them: "The Weight," "Up On Cripple Creek," "Rag Momma Rag," and of course "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The last three songs were all from The Band, and it's those songs, plus a couple of others from the album that come in for the closest scrutiny.