The Band

Music From Big Pink, The Band, Stage Fright, Cahoots (Capitol Records)

The Band takes a load off with a quartet of reissues.
The Band takes a load off with a quartet of reissues.

Capitol found fewer extras to include on Stage Fright and Cahoots: Both discs contain radio commercials among their handful of rarities, and they're nothing more than oddities meant to satisfy the cultist. The alternate take of "Daniel and the Sacred Harp" off the third disc is interesting, if only because it sounds like a brilliant, half-assed demo; the "W.S. Walcott Medicine Show" outtake, mixed by Todd Rundgren, is more horn-heavy than its album counterpart. Cahoots features the organ-drenched "Bessie Smith," which fans long assumed was a Basement Tapes song (hell, Helm says as much in his book), though Robertson insists it was in fact recorded during the period between Stage Fright and Cahoots. But the best outtake on that record is "Don't Do It," a live version of which appeared on Rock of Ages (the song is just a redo of the Holland-Dozier-Holland song "Baby, Don't You Do It" written for Marvin Gaye in 1964). No longer the prerequisite show-closer, the unreleased studio version sounds not so unlike The Band when it was The Hawks, playing shitholes with Ronnie Hawkins in the early 1960s. It's rough, ramshackle and rock 'n' roll -- the sound of five men who made magic even when they were just killing time.

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