Music Review: Live at the Academy of Music 1971/The Band (Released September 17, 2013)

By: Cathy Rockwell

The Band originated in Canada with a multitude of music influences from folk, Americana, country, Motown and rock. Actually, they started out as the backing group called the Hawks for Arkansas rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins in 1958. Later, after the departure of Ronnie Hawkins, they morphed into Levon and the Hawks and The Canadian Squires with American Levon Helm as their front man. After releasing a few singles, Bob Dylan hired them as his touring band, at which time he went electric.

When Dylan moved to Saugerties, NY in 1967, the Band went with him, where they made what was meant to be some casual recordings together that later became known as “The Basement Tapes,” which became the foundation of the Band’s first studio album Music From Big Pink. The Band went on to release 10 albums and were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

The Band‘s legendary performances at New York City’s Academy of Music from Dec. 28-31 have been released on a four-disc Live at the Academy of Music 1971 and one DVD that takes fans back to these historical live performances.


The first two CDs feature the highlights from the shows, which include 29 songs. There are many great hits from Disc One: “Up on Cripple Creek,” “Strawberry Wine” (Tuesday, December 28 – Previously Unissued Performance), “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Across The Great Divide.”

Disc Two features: “The Weight,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “(I Don’t Want To) Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes” and “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.” There are four songs where the Band is joined on stage New Year’s Eve with Bob Dylan (who really nailed it with “Like A Rolling Stone”). If you listen closely you can hear the onstage banter with the musicians and Dylan saying, “haven’t played this one together in 16 years.”

The complete New Year’s Eve concert can be heard on the third and fourth discs which is 27 songs—some, like the Dylan songs are repeated. The Band’s studio albums are surely amazing, but to really get a full appreciation for these incredibly talented musicians, one must hear them perform live together.
Listening to this album, takes you back to the easy living and good times of that music era. The live CDs are raw, energetic and near flawless performances. A definite must have for all music fans of the Band and those who appreciate the great music from the1960s and 1970s.

Disc 5: (DVD Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 in 5.1 Surround Sound.) features the songs: “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Caledonia Mission,” “Don’t Do It,” “Stage Fright,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Up On Cripple Creek,” “The Wheel’s On Fire,” “Strawberry Wine (Previously Unissued Performance),” “King Harvest (Has Surely Come),” “Time To Kill,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Across The Great Divide,” “Life Is A Carnival,” “Get Up Jake,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “Unfaithful Servant,” “The Weight,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “Smoke Signal,” “The Rumor,” “The Genetic Method,” “ Chest Fever,” “(I Don’t Want To) Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes,” “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” “King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (Previously Unissued Performance) (Archival Film Clips-December 30, 1971),” and “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show (Previously Unissued Performance) (Archival Film Clips-December 30, 1971).”

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Photo copyright: Captiol/UMe

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