As 1967 faded into '68, Rock music was no longer restricted to A-sides and B-sides. Instead, musicians embraced the idea of LP expressionism. Some 6 months before, The Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band", Brian Wilson had "Pet Sounds", Cream had "Disraeli Gears" and Jimi Hendrix asked "Are you Experienced". It was like psychedelic sunday everyday with rainbows all over your stars...
And yet, from nowhere and everywhere a new sensibility based on all stylings was beginning to simmer like gumbo on a hot plate. It was counter-revolutionary to the revolution. It was the time of The Band...and the music world would be taken aback by their "Music from Big Pink"..
Before I get ahead of things, you'll need to know that The Band grew out of an association with Ronnie Hawkins. They quickly caught the attention of Bob Dylan and wound up touring with him in England. They were soundly booed every night. Aye, when it came to Dylan's electric to acoustic conversion, you could say that the English weren't exactly "ready teddys".
Ahem...Now then, after that tour the whole works of them retired to a small rented house in West Saugerties New York. They affectionately called it "Big Pink". They collaborated day and night creating, fusing, amalgamating and blending. Their collective hope was to assemble a new alchemy of sound. Alas; Dylan had his motorcycle accident and retreated from all things music. The Band however was left with little less than their collective chemistry.
Shortly after, a disillusioned Eric Clapton turned up on Big Pink's doorstep. Eric had just attained super status with the rather dysfunctional Cream and was seeking some sort of grounding. On a spiritual level, he immediately tapped into their tribal sensitivity; but nonetheless, felt like a stranger in a stranger land. For here were the five of them locked in an embrace as they passed instruments back and forth, freely associated melody and exchanged encouragement. Clapton jammed with them that day but quickly realized that this was no place for his "Cream"-ey guitar heroics.
The Band would persist and persevere eventually releasing their debut masterpiece, "Music from Big Pink", in July of 1968. It was evident from the start, that Bob Dylan had left his fingerprint on it. He was credited with co-writing 2 tracks, the tracklist included a Dylan cover and the album's artwork was painted by Dylan himself. Although it was cooly received..Dylan fans took to it right away. Soon after, radio added "The Weight" and album sales blossomed. The Band's "Music from Big Pink" would eventually scratch at Billboard's Top 30. They would follow it up with several efforts including the noteworthy "Stagefright" and a couple of additional projects with Dylan. Their classic line-up would call it quits in 1976 in a very public austere sort of way. Their "Last Waltz" captured on film would influence a generation of musicians and film makers alike.