Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel — aka The Band — inarguably placed alongside a shortlist of groups considered "rock royalty," will be paid a long-overdue, much-deserved tribute with Endless Highway: The Music of The Band, a collection of their compositions lovingly reworked by a diverse group of artists who share a love of The Band and are highly regarded in their own right. The project will be released by 429 Records (a unit of the Savoy Label Group), in January of 2007. The stellar collection features reinterpretations of classic Band songs by Jack Johnson, ALO, Death Cab For Cutie, Gomez, Roseanne Cash, My Morning Jacket and many others. Endless Highway: The Music of The Band is in stores January 30th.
The Band by Elliot Landy
Executive Produced by Stu Fine and Steve Vining, Endless Highway is a showcase for musicians of many different genres for whom The Band represent a pinnacle of creative musicianship. Says Stu Fine: "The more we talked about the idea, of finding an artist whose songs transcended time, space and generations, who artists loved and respected enough to want to cover, The Band kept showing up at the top of each of our wish lists."
When The Band released their first album, Music from Big Pink, they had already spent over a year touring with Ronnie Hawkins (as The Hawks) and Bob Dylan on the intensely polarizing world tour that introduced audiences to the "electric" side of Dylan. It was a series of performances that were astonishing in their unwavering musical vision and intensity. The Band materialized out of the ashes of The Hawks upon an unsuspecting musical community with a collection of compositions unlike anything released in pop music before. Rob Bowman states in his notes to the compilation The Band: A Musical History, "...more than any other band in the history of popular music they were able to internalize the main tributaries of American roots musics to the point where they synchronically fused them into a timeless musical stew that, both linguistically and sonically, encapsulates the mythical essence of some long-lost sense of America."
The challenge for the artists participating in Endless Highway was how to approach a body of work where more often than not, the word used to describe a particular song was "masterpiece." My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan comments to Billboard.com on the recording of "It Makes No Difference" with Levon Helm in Helm's studio in Woodstock, NY: "We were very aware of the potential pain he would feel from hearing that song recorded by someone else. (Late Band members) Rick Danko and Richard Manuel were amongst the purest musicians to ever grace the art, and to conjure up their loss was something we feared and respected."
Adds Steve Vining, President of 429 Records/SLG: It's been gratifying to work with so many established artists but also the young bands who have such an appreciation for The Band's legacy. Putting together this project has been a labor of love for all involved and I am happy the music reflects that."
The artist and track listing for Endless Highway is as follows:
Jack Johnson "I Shall Be Released"
The Allman Brothers "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
Death Cab For Cutie "Rocking Chair"
My Morning Jacket "It Makes No Difference"
Lee Ann Womack "The Weight"
Jakob Dylan "Whispering Pines"
Gomez "Up On Cripple Creek"
Bruce Hornsby "King Harvest"
Rosanne Cash "Unfaithful Servant"
Blues Traveler "Rag Mama Rag"
Joe Henry "Bessie Smith"
Guster "This Wheel's On Fire"
Widespread Panic "Chest Fever"
John Hiatt & North Mississippi Allstars "Ain't No More Cane"
Jackie Greene "Look Out Cleveland"
Animal Liberation Orchestra "Ophelia"
Steve Reynolds "Stage Fright"
Josh Turner "When I Paint My Masterpiece"
Gov't Mule "The Shape I'm In"