Sunday, July 8, 2018

Celebrating 50 years of The Band’s Music from Big Pink

The Band's Music from Big Pink
It’s hard to believe that a half-century has passed since the July 1st, 1968 release of the Band’s landmark debut album Music from Big Pink. It shouldn’t have been a big surprise, really, but the Bob Dylan’s former backing band shocked the world of rock ‘n’ roll out of its complacency with their original and forward-thinking hybrid of roots-rock, country, blues, and soul music.

Whereas the Beatles awed listeners a year previous with the evolutionary production technique and complex musical arrangements afforded their classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, the Band drove in an absolutely opposite direction, stripping the music down to its bare bones and delivering a raw, emotional, and often haunting collection that drew from the roots of American music tradition.

On August 31st, 2018 Capitol Records and Universal Music will celebrate 50 years of the Band’s Music from Big Pink with a super-duper, ultra-deluxe reissue in a bunch of different formats. Newly remixed and expanded with a half-dozen “bonus” tracks in the form of alternate takes and studio outtakes, the album will be available as a single CD, double-vinyl LP, and limited edition double-LP on pink vinyl as well as a special Blu-ray disc.

All the anniversary edition reissues feature a new stereo mix created by Grammy® Award-winning producer Bob Clearmountain, who has worked on albums by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Pretenders, and many others. Working from the original four-track analog master recordings, Clearmountain’s new mix brings a new clarity to the album’s sound and incorporates previously-unreleased studio chatter from the original sessions.

The Band's Music from Big Pink

The album will also be released as a deluxe collectors’ box set with CD, Blu-ray, vinyl, and hardbound book. Exclusive to the box set, the Blu-ray disc features a new 5.1 surround mix by Clearmountain as well as the high-resolution (96kHz/24 bit) stereo mix. The box set also includes a reproduction of the band’s vinyl 7” single for “The Weight” b/w “I Shall Be Released” while the hardbound book features a new essay by Rolling Stone magazine scribe David Fricke alongside rare, seldom-seen photos by Elliott Landy.

The Band would go on to make a lot of classic music after Music from Big Pink, including landmark albums like 1970’s Stage Fright and the live 1972 double-album Rock of Ages. It was with their debut album, though, that the band – Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson, talented multi-instrumentalists all – would create a template for the Americana music movement and influence subsequent generations of musicians, from 1970s-era bands like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band to early ‘00s outfits like the Drive-By Truckers, the Hold Steady, and My Morning Jacket. The Band was inducted into Canada’s Juno Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 1994. In 2008, the Band was honored with The Recording Academy’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The Band's Music from Big Pink
Music from Big Pink enjoyed modest commercial success upon its release, peaking at #30 on the Billboard magazine albums chart, but in the ensuing half-century has become considered as one of the most important and influential album’s in the history of American music. Perhaps critic Greil Marcus summed it up best in his 1975 book Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, writing “the richness of ‘Big Pink’ is in the Band’s ability to contain endless combinations of American popular music without imitating any of them. The Band don’t refer to their sources any more than we refer to George Washington when we vote, but the connection is there.”

Buy the album from
The Band’s Music from Big Pink CD
The Band’s Music from Big Pink 2-LP vinyl

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