Album no. 127/1001
The Band are, funnily enough, a band. They actually started out as a backing band for a little-known artist called Bob Dylan. This was their first endeavour as a real-life band though.
‘Big Pink’ was a house in New York (that was actually pink) where the group played together. Fun fact: the cover art is actually a painting by Bob Dylan. Make of that what you will.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: No. I have not been looking forward to this, mostly because Ned is so excited about it. Also because I cannot get around this genre of ‘Americana’.
NK: I SURE HAVE. This is not my favourite album by The Band, but it’s still good. I own this on CD.
CL: First pressing?
CL: OH WHAT?! THEY DO THAT SONG THAT FEATURES IN A GIRL TALK SONG! And it’s called ‘The Weight’, not ‘Take A Load Off’ – as one would expect from the chorus. Well hot-damn!
NK: ‘The Weight’ is their best-known song I reckon.
CL: I think ‘The Weight’ is a cracker of a song but it’s easily the standout here though. ‘Chest Fever’ is alright. It actually reminds me a lot of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Hung Upside Down’, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The rest, I am sorry to say, are SO ploddy and boring.
NK: I think ‘Chest Fever’ might be the best song on the album! I really like the slow but powerful riff that goes all the way through. Nice bit of organ for you, really good track.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: Look, I wouldn’t suggest listening to this if you have to operate heavy machinery. It’s pretty slow-moving. Like a snail with a cowboy hat. Was this band mostly snails in cowboy hats? Seems like Bob Dylan would get behind a concept like that.
NK: I agree with you about how slowly it moves, but I think that’s good. I think listening to this on headphones really helps. You can pick out the individual instruments a bit better, and relax into it. It’s definitely not in a rush to get anywhere, with the possible exception of ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ a cover version of which was the theme to Absolutely Fabulous for many years. But I agree, the rest of this is pretty relaxed.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: I suppose there’s an interesting mix of country and more typical rock music – I suppose this album went a long way in contributing to the ‘Americana’ genre. And (unfortunately) paved the way for other bands that I also can’t stand, like The Eagles. And America.
NK: I definitely think it was influential, but I’m not sure it was for The Eagles or America. Eric Clapton said that this album led him to quit Cream and start playing a more rootsy style, and Roger Waters from Pink Floyd called it the second most influential record in the history of rock and roll (after Sgt Peppers). I think it’s interesting because it was sort of a throwback; they were already pushing back against the electronic, psychedelic stuff and doing a more retro, acoustic country-styled thing. I think it’s really weird that it’s only 1968 and they’re already trying to go back to a more innocent time.
Will you be listening again?
CL: No. Sorry. I know you love them, old mate, but I just can’t do it.
NK: Yeah mate, there are a lot of tracks I like on this.
CL: This is really for ‘The Weight’ only.
Listen to Music from Big Pink on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.