While I was growing up, I was hugely into the typical stuff, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin etc, much like most I guess. While my tastes grew and expanded to the darker, heavier stuff as I got older, it also got drawn into some older stuff such as blues and southern rock with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers. During that time I was a big film lover too, and Martin Scorsese was up there for me, and it is thanks to that amazing director that I first came across The Band. In a box set of Scorsese movies I came across The Last Waltz, it was the final performance of The Band, a great mix of musical legends join them throughout and I was blown away by them. That was some 40 years ago.
Fast forward to now and author Peter Aaron has delved deep into the history of The Band, reading with a real eye for detail. Opening out, you are brought into the early beginnings, each member, the loss and growth of members, all that formed up The Band. From there on you are invited along for the ride as you come across those infamous characters and musicians that worked with them, causing them to grow. Further on you are brought into the stories of the greatest hits, another chapter marks the notable figures involved with them, carrying on into the vast array of styles brought into the bands playing.
Hitting the chapter on the Canadian music scene gives a who’s who of those from the Toronto area, the amount of acts this gives an itch to check out is beyond belief. You can only go from that onto those that influenced them, yet more names that you’ll end up adding to a list of artists to look into. It really isn’t hard to see how The Band and those of that era could always have a positive influence around them, if music was a drug, this was clearly the best time to be alive. Especially when you begin to read of the Woodstock era. The detailing just continues to give page after page, a truly fascinating read, although possibly a little lost on those that have never heard of The Band as it is very much as titled, a FAQ rather than a book or collection of short stories.
It is hard to sum up a FAQ book, but with a line such as “If there’s a better concert movie than ‘The Last Waltz’. It hasn’t been played outside of heaven.” Few words, but they speak volumes, and it says it all.