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The Band
Stage Fright


4.5
superb

Review

by BasementMovies USER (7 Reviews)
September 3rd, 2006 | 12 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist


After gaining huge success with their 1969 eponymous album, an appearance at the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Festival, and their faces on the cover of Time magazine, The Band were back to the drawing board for a new album to meet the high expectations demanded by their previous album. In attempt to preserve the tight-knit recording nature of 'Music From Big Pink' and 'The Brown Album', The Band began recording at The Woodstock Playhouse in their hometown. But, as it soon became evident, fame and fortune had taken their toll on The Band, and the result was Stage Fright.

1) Strawberry Wine (Helm/Robertson)
The slight departure from The Band's previous albums is evident from the start. From its first plucked notes, 'Strawberry Wine' is a straight rocker reminiscent of 'Jemima Surrender' from The Brown Album. Levon's vocals (apparently, he was stoned while recording the song) and Rick's fretless bass line dominate the song, and Garth's wild accordion sound shine as well. 4.5/5

2) Sleeping (Manuel/Robertson)
By Stage Fright, Richard Manuel had become almost completely inactive in the songwriting, contributing only two co-credits with Robbie on the album. But here, it's not quantity that matter, but quality. Richard displays his amazing vocal talent in this mellow song that blends mellow piano with full Band sections in a beautiful mesh. One might find this song sadly ironic, as while Manuel sings, "I've spend my whole life sleeping", nobody could have guessed of his tragic fate sixteen years later. 5/5

3) Time To Kill (Robertson)
Another classic to the album, Time To Kill is another rocker like Strawberry Wine and features The Band swapping instruments with Richard Manuel on drums, Garth on piano and Levon on rhythm guitar. The intro can't help but remind me of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana but the rest of the song is completely different on it's own. The harmony vocals between Rick and Richard blend well and the uplifting lyrics make this song really work. 5/5

4) Just Another Whistle Stop (Manuel/Robertson)
Richard's second and last contribution to the album is another highlight, featuring some distorted production and a superb, fitting guitar intro and occasional solos and some nice drumming from Levon. Once again, the whole band really rocks it out together like in 'Time To Kill', albeit in a slightly bluesyer style, showing The Band's vast musical range. 4.5/5

5) All La Glory (Robertson)
Telling the story of the birth of Robbie's first child, All La Glory is a quiet number featuring Garth on accordion and Levon giving a gentle vocal performance. Robbie’s guitar and Rick’s bass perfectly compliment each other and create a nice effect that I find suits the song very well. This very touching song brings a close to Side One. 4.5/5

6) The Shape I’m In (Robertson)
Written with Richard Manuel in mind, Robbie’s funky song about a man who’s life gets worse and worse kicks off Side Two. This is a very funky song with lots of wobbly organ and bass and some fast-paced vocals from Richard, joined on the chorus by everybody else. For such a sadly ironic song once again, The Shape I’m In really kicks thing off on a rocking beat. Another classic. 5/5

7) The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show (Robertson)
More rocking ensues with The W.S Walcott Medicine Show, another fast song with some skillfully played brass by Garth including a great saxophone solo. Levon and Rick sing in unison intertwined with some catchy riffery courtesy of Robbie and piano by Richard. A very catchy song making for a good quick listen. 5/5

8) Daniel And The Sacred Harp (Robertson)
The Band have always made excellent acoustic songs throughout their existence and Daniel And The Sacred Hard is proof. Rick adds violin to the track and Levon plays mandolin complimented by Garths accordion. Levon serves as the narrator to the story of Daniel and the Harp while Richard sings as Daniel. This style is very well executed and adds to the overall effect of the song. Great song. 5/5

9) Stage Fright (Robertson)
The title track to Stage Fright pretty much sums up how the state the band was in at the time of the album. This song is a semi-rock song and relies heavily on chords and little riffs. Rick works his tenor magic on vocals and Garth’s organ playing is as good as ever. Robbie and Richard are relegated to playing rhythm but both shine as well. And let’s not forget Levon, who contributed his neat drum fills everywhere needed. 4/5

10) The Rumor (Robertson)
Stage Fright comes to a close with The Rumor, a slower song joining all the talents of each member, featuring Rick, Richard and Levon all on joint lead vocals with spectacular organ work by Garth and great guitar fills and solos by Robbie. The song has a very false-epic feel to it and is the longest song on the album at 4:16. This song a very good album closer but the actual ending is kind of strange, leading up to an amazing climax and finishing with an odd note on guitar with a descending bass line and capped off by a short drum fill ending the album. 5/5

This album turned out to be The Band’s last “masterpiece”, and the last with The Band still a tight-knit group. With the next album, Richard Manuel stopped writing completely and Robbie Robertson began experimenting. Even Stage Fright in itself did not do as well as it’s predecessors and The Band fell into a rut, so to say. Still, Stage Fright is a definite classic and is a must have for all Band fans and even casual listeners.

****1/2 out of *****



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user ratings (133)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
La Revolucion
September 4th 2006


1060 Comments


Good track-by-track. I'm pretty sure no one on earth can dislike The Band.This Message Edited On 09.03.06

drewcordova
September 23rd 2012


705 Comments


"ohhh/you dunno/the shape I'm in"

Ire
October 17th 2012


41944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

peaks40
October 17th 2012


2829 Comments


why doesn't this have more FUCKING votes?

Ire
October 17th 2012


41944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i know right best band ever

peaks40
October 17th 2012


2829 Comments


hard

peaks40
November 7th 2012


2829 Comments


fuck its hard to download this motherfucker

johnnyblaze
November 7th 2012


3405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great album eh

Chortles
November 7th 2012


21494 Comments


damn haven't heard this one but the two before this rule my balls i should get this

peaks40
November 7th 2012


2829 Comments


its so hard to download, anyone have good sites or links?

gocsa666
July 13th 2014


471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Beautiful songs. Deserves much more recognition on here.

y87arrow
July 4th 2020


711 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, I don't know very much from the genres The Band were in (if it's early 70's I'm interested in it's more like psychedelic & krautrock, or bands like Pink Floyd, Roxy Music and Black Sabbath) but somehow it clicked immediately with me. Next stop will be their self-titled one.



Also, I always like track by track reviews because ALL songs are described there. I don't like when some good songs aren't mentioned in reviews, like they don't matter.



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