Rick Danko was the first to start a solo career, but this involving duet with his former Band mate Levon Helm shows a sense of community remained.
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‘The Last Waltz,’ released as a triple album on April 7, 1978, chronicled a guest-packed Band concert that overcame one complication after another.
This is a setting, like the measured context of the Band’s early work, that perfectly suits – even as it amplifies – Levon Helm’s voice.
After a series of solo records that tended toward blues- and R&B-soaked fun, Levon Helm’s ‘Dirt Farmer’ goes deeper, experiences more.
Left to his own devices after the dissolution of the Band, Levon Helm returned to the things that had been his strengths, his succor, and his joy.
The Band simply stole “Back to Memphis” from Chuck Berry, who tended to wink his way through it. Levon Helm, however, found something darker.
This old Chuck Willis tune, forgotten in the wake of his early death, gave the Band a chance to let loose — and let loose they most certainly did.
A journeyman country tune makes the case all over again for Levon Helm’s tender, heart-openingly emotional side.
Neither seemed all that interested in ‘The Last Waltz.’ But their performances are the heart and soul of the film.
When Levon Helm decided to return to the Americana roots that had for so long nourished his career, he did it his way.