Album Review

The Band – Music From Big Pink (1968) Review


The Band

Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson

Music From Big Pink


The Band’s debut album hit store shelves on July 1, 1968. The cover art featured six musicians and an elephant and looked like a child may have designed it. It was a painting by Bob Dylan, and one he did to be the album cover art. Dylan took up painting after his motorcycle accident. Between painting and recuperating, Dylan found time to join The Band for jam sessions at their rented house in Woodstock, New York. The house nicknamed “Big Pink”, hence the album title.

I love this album. The Band started out with their best foot forward. Music From Big Pink isn’t just their first album. It’s their best one. Their second album the following year is a great effort, but something about Big Pink puts it ahead. Released on Capitol Records and produced by John Simon, this album clocks in at 42:22. It’s called roots rock, country rock, folk rock, and Americana. It’s all these and more. I don’t like labels, or categories. This is a band, and an album that defy categorization. Let’s not argue when one word will due. Great.

Of the 11 tracks, Dylan had a hand in writing 3 of them. The single “The Weight” was the one most people thought Dylan wrote. While it is one of The Band’s most well-known offerings. The writer was Robbie Robertson with Levon Helm and Rick Danko on vocals. The song selection, the track order, have a lot to do with making this album what it is. It’s bookended by two songs Bob Dylan had a hand in writing with Richard Manuel doing vocals on both. They have beautiful lyrics, and Richard’s voice adds a delicate touch. Tears of Rage, the opening track was the inspiration for a poem I wrote called Pagan Tears. I listened to it two or three times a day for a week or two. It’s that good, and hard not to get inspired. That goes for all the songs, and the album they create. This is a 5 out of 5. I’d love to visit “Big Pink”. I don’t want to do anything, just stand there, absorbing everything, and listen to the echos.

  1. Tears of Rage (Bob Dylan/Richard Manuel)
  2. To Kingdom Come (Robbie Robertson)
  3. In a Station (Richard Manuel)
  4. Caledonia Mission (Robbie Robertson)
  5. The Weight (Robbie Robertson)
  6. We Can Talk (Richard Manuel)
  7. Long Black Veil (Marijohn Wilkin/Danny Dill)
  8. Chest Fever (Robbie Robertson)
  9. Lonesome Suzie (Richard Manuel)
  10. This Wheel’s On Fire (Bob Dylan/Rick Danko)
  11. I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)

Copyright © Drew Martin 2015


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