The Band “Rock of Ages”

Rock of Ages

I usually stay away from live albums. Rock of Ages was my last chip at The Band’s discography, but what a thrill to hear the band at their peak, a true live-rock classic.

Before this record, I’ve always felt “Across The Great Divide” plays kind of hokey at the helm of one of the top records of all time, but here it nearly brings me to tears, revealing the power of a good song. A considerable chunk of this recording’s force comes from Allen Touissaint’s horn arrangments, adding a level of raw, visceral energy, one that fails to detract from the original tunes (unlike so many last-minute horn-section supplements).

Subtle road-variations kill me: the super-slowed chorus to “Stage Fright” (it should have been like this from the beginning), the embellished arrangment for the “Rag Mama Rag” tag (Touissaint again), not to mention the killer Lowrey Organ solo from Garth Hudson, “The Genetic Method,” introducing blazing hot “Chest Fever,” and Robby Robertson’s emotic guitar solo for “Unfaithful Servant.”

I’m glad I saved it for last. Guaranteed to put everybody in a good mood. Though The Band still had more great material in the wings, specifically Northern Lights – Southern Cross, I say make this your Last Waltz.

Q. Are there any other essential live records?

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“Across The Great Divide”

:D CD Reissue | 2001 | Capitol | buy amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1972 | Capitol | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • dk

    Here are a half-dozen random greats from an upcoming Top 20 list that I’m currently working on…

    Allman Brothers | Live At Fillmore East
    Johnny Cash | At Folsom Prison
    Ramones | It’s Alive
    Nirvana | Unplugged
    Jerry Lee Lewis | Live At The Star Club, Hamburg
    Little Feat | Waiting For Columbus

  • Graeme Lynch

    Poco – DeLIVErin’
    Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya Yas Out

  • anonymous

    RS: get your ya ya’s out
    james brown: live at the apollo
    allman bros at fillmore
    the studio (not live) side of zztop fandango. the anti-live recording

  • i’m sure this makes no sense, but one of my favorite records of all time is Side A of Loudon Wainwright’s A Live One.

  • ljhord

    I agree with every suggestion already made…especially The Allman Brothers “Live at Fillmore East”! I would add Eric Clapton’s “Just One Night”.

  • Dan

    The Last Waltz
    Frampton Comes Alive
    Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
    It’s Too Late to Stop Now… by Van Morrison
    Mad Dogs & Englishmen – Joe Cocker
    The Concert for Bangladesh – George Harrison, et al.
    Willie & Family Live – Willie Nelson (and family)
    Live Bullet ~ Bob Seger
    Live at Leeds ~ The Who
    Hot August Night ~ Neil Diamond
    One More from the Road ~ Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Live Rust ~ Young, Neil
    Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads
    You Had To Be There – Jimmy Buffett
    Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75 – Bruce Springsteen

  • Dan

    and a whole bunch of Grateful Dead live stuff.

  • nickw

    Curtis live
    Neil young live at Fillmore
    Bob Dylan gaslight
    Bob Dylan rolling thunder
    Bill withers live at Carnegie
    Townes at the old quarter
    Newport blues 3 disc
    The roots come alive
    Tom waits big time
    And lowell George whsf radio sessions with emmylou Harris

  • Jason

    I second the Jerry Lee Lewis Live with the Nashville Teens
    The Byrds Untitled – Lover of the Bayou is excellent
    Bob Dylan and the Band – Before The Flood 1974
    The Kinks – Everybody’s In Showbiz double lp with half a drunken live set
    Santana – Lotus
    Sam Cooke – Live at the Harlem Square Club 1963
    Jerry Jeff Walker – Viva Terlingua
    Townes Van Zandt – Live at the Old Quarter
    The Grateful Dead have many but Live/Dead 69, Europe 72 and Dick’s Picks Volumes 4 & 8 are really choice.
    Jefferson Airplane – Bless Its Pointed Little Head

    just to name a few
    Donovan – Donovan in Concert 1968
    The MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
    Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs – Live at Sunbury

  • Louder than Milk

    Georgie Fame And the Blue Flames – R&B At The Flamingo
    The Dillards – Live…Almost!!!
    The Blues Project – Live At The Cafe Au Go Go

  • hambone

    Tim Buckley — Dream Letter: Live in London 1968

  • Cynthia

    Call me crazy, but I just simply love::::::::Devo – DEV-O Live

  • It’s not a live album, but The Who’s A Quick One from the Stones’ Rock n Roll Circus is my all time favourite live track.

  • Len Liechti

    LIttle Feat’s Waiting For Columbus; go for the extended version. I too am not a huge fab of live recordings, as they tend to offer inferior versions of familiar tunes, often played too fast in the heat of the moment, but this one really delivers. Live Dead, of course; the Dead are one act that plays it very different on stage to in the studio, though both facets are brilliant. Finally, the live album from Floyd’s Ummagumma.

  • Ryan

    The Byrds “Fillmore West, February 1969” (clarence white man!)
    Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”
    Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72”
    Quicksilver Messenger Service’s “Happy Trails”
    The Electric Prunes’ “Stockholm 1967”
    Hot Tuna “Hot Tuna”
    Delaney & Bonnie’s “On Tour” (despite my dislike of clapton, D&B outdo themselves)
    Neil Young “Time Fades Away” (no question)
    Allman Brothers Band “Live at the Fillmore East”
    Gram Parsons “Fallen Angels Live 1973” (technically not the best, but I still love it)
    Hound Dog Taylor’s “Release the Hound”
    Jefferson Airplane’s “Bless Its Pointed Little Head”


  • blankend

    The Who – Live at Leeds

    J Geils Band – Full House

    Allman Brothers Band – Live at Fillmore East

  • blankend

    Rory Gallagher – Live in Europe

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