Something Else! sneak peek: Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of the Band (2012)

Preview four new songs from the forthcoming project Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of the Band, featuring Garth Hudson along with famous musicians from the Great White North like Neil Young, the Cowboy Junkies and Bruce Cockburn, among others.

Reinterpretations of “This Wheel’s On Fire” (originally found on the Band’s 1968 debut Music from Big Pink), “King Harvest” (the finale of 1969′s The Band), “Knockin’ Lost John” (from 1977′s Islands) and “Move to Japan” (from 1993′s Jericho) are each part of the forthcoming Curve Records album, due on October 2, 2012.

Neil Young and the Sadie’s join Hudson for “This Wheel’s On Fire,” while Great Big Sea guests on “Knockin’ Lost John,” Blue Rodeo on “King Harvest” and the Trews on “Move to Japan.”

The set also includes a new version of Hudson’s iconic “Genetic Method” solo feature, which initially served as the introduction to “Chest Fever” before growing into its own showcase. The complete track listing, with other featured performers, is below.

Hudson selected the songs and produced the album with Peter J. Moore, who has worked with Lucinda Williams and the Cowboy Junkies. U.S. distribution will be handled through Redeye.

[REMEMBERING LEVON HELM: We celebrate Levon Helm's stirring legacy both as a solo artist and as the loamy voiced, rail-jumping rhythmic center point of the Band.]

“It was very organic how the artists and songs matched up so perfectly,” Hudson says in pre-release materials. “These songs were among the most enjoyable to me while the Band was together because of the words, or the story, or humor. Each of these songs stands on its own, yet they mystically sequence together as a string of jewels.”

Special guests and tracklisting for ‘Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of the Band’

1. Danny Brooks and the Rockin’ Revelators – Forbidden Fruit
2. Mary Margaret O’Hara – Out of the Blue
3. Peter Katz and the Curious – Acadian Driftwood
4. Neil Young and Sadies – This Wheel’s on Fire
5. Suzie McNeil – Ain’t Got No Home
6. Cowboy Junkies – Clothes Line Saga
7. Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckly – You Ain’t Going Nowhere
8. Bruce Cockburn and Blue Rodeo – Sleeping
9. The Road Hammers – Yazoo Street Scandal
10. Raine Maida – The Moon Struck One
11. The Sadies – The Shape I’m In
12. Chantal Kreviazuk – Tears of Rage
13. I Loved Your Too Much – Hawksley Workman
14. Great Big Sea – Knockin’ Lost John
15. Blue Rodeo – King Harvest
16. The Trews – Move to Japan
17. Garth Hudson – Genetic Method (Anew)
18. Ian Thornley and Bruce Cockburn – Chest Fever

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on the Band. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

GIMME FIVE: CELEBRATING LEVON HELM, CO-FOUNDER AND VOICE OF THE BAND: The loamy voiced, rail-jumping rhythmic center point of the Band, Helm re-emerged in the last decade after an initial diagnosis to reclaim his mantle as yearning storyteller and timeless soul singer. Three straight Grammy awards followed, starting in 2008. Unfortunately, Helm’s third-act triumphs in the studio were matched pace for pace by his illness. Helm, 71, is now said to be in the final stages of his cancer battle. The Arkansas native leaves behind, however, a series of lasting musical statements. Those Grammys helped to underscore Helm’s importance, within the Band and within the broader landscape of American roots music – but it is here, within the songs, that it becomes manifest. Even after all of that, Helm’s signature style remained. His playing was an involving mixture of rhythm and emotion – someone once said he was the only drummer who can make you cry – while his singing remained a wonder of ribald bewilderment, old-time religion and shotgun shack-rattling joy.

ROBBIE ROBERTSON – HOW TO BECOME CLAIVOYANT (2011): How to Become Clairvoyant is, thus far, Robbie Robertson’s most blatantly personal solo release, taking on his split with the Band, nostalgia for his generation’s spent idealism, and the realization of a dark aftermath for the era’s hedonistic excesses. That might sound like the kind of triumphal return many had hoped for over the 13 years since Robertson’s last album, 1998?s Contact from the Underworld of Redboy. But then he issued a pair of uneven advance singles. While “He Don’t Live Here No More” boasted a clinched-jaw realism, “When the Night Was Young” came off as obvious, maudlin, even pollyanna. It’s the risk, really, with confessional work.

LEVON HELM – RAMBLE AT THE RYMAN (2011): We’re reminded again here that Levon Helm was the loamy voiced, rail-jumping rhythmic center point of the Band, its yearning storyteller and gritty soul. Their records were drawn from continuity, bringing in dizzyingly diverse, age-old influences and performed in a chorus as if by brothers. That has always made a treasure hunt out of selecting any individual triumph on their old records. Not here, as this Ramble becomes a showcase for Helm. It’s also an important reminder: The Band’s principal songwriting credits may have gone to Robbie Robertson, but they were then — and are here, again — often completely inhabited by Helm’s carnal Arkansas drawl.

LEVON HELM – ELECTRIC DIRT (2009): Nothing drove old Levon Helm down. Not the messy dissolution of his group, The Band; the perhaps inevitable subsequent financial ruin; a terrifying bout with throat cancer; a pair of shatteringly tragic deaths within his inner circle; or a yawning quarter century span between solo records that made him all but obscure in modern musical circles. There is, of course, a dark and deep sense of loss — this candid accounting of, and quiet mourning for, the old times, the old ways, the old friends that fans of some of The Band’s best-known Helm-sung tunes (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “The Weight,” and “Up on Cripple Creek”) will recognize. But Helm sings with the bone-deep confidence of someone who has eyeballed our biggest fears and lived to tell the tale.

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.