King of debut albums
redcraze | Sydney, Australia | 10/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not hard to see why even giants like Eric Clapton and George Harrison freaked when they first heard the Big Pink acetate. (Jimi and Ringo were there, too, apparently.) Was the subsequent and exponential improvement in their own songwriting mere coincidence? Unlikely. Clapton has said it changed his attitude to music altogether, prompting him to kill off the supergroup thing and put out the magnificent Layla anonymously. And the bootlegs I've heard of George running through All Things Must Pass and Not Guilty at Abbey Road or Twickenham have 'The Band' stamped all over them.Someone once said that Levon Helm was the only drummer who could make you cry, and you can hear just what he meant on the opening track, the Manuel/Dylan tune Tears of Rage, as moving a song as you'll ever hear. Richard could sing a bit. Dylan's contribution also pays big dividends on This Wheel's On Fire, co-written with Danko. Both these tracks can be found on the Basement Tapes, with Dylan singing, and as good as those versions are, they are easily surpassed here.Manuel's We Can Talk is a personal favourite - the wonky harmony vocals, Danko's weird bouncy bass line and Garth Hudson's inimitable keyboards are all typical and marvelous - but Robbie Robertson writes himself into rock history with the almost epic The Weight.Big Pink was nothing like anything else that was being made in the late '60s - there's barely a guitar solo in sight - and though the follow-up eponymous album was probably even better, this remains the definitive debut album. (Not that I've heard every debut album there ever was, but what the hell.)Essential."
What Countless Rock Bands Strive To Achieve
Bud | Seminole, Texas, USA | 04/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When The Band released their debut "Music From Big Pink" like an angry pitbull free from its leash, Rolling Stone raved that the album was "an event" as opposed to a rock and roll record. They couldn't have been more right. Bob Dylan's former back-up band, consisting of four Canadian bar-room musicians and an Arkansas farm boy, had completed one of rock's most pure and perfect works, an example of what countless artists have strived to immitate since 1968.
"Music From Big Pink" wasn't only an event, but a rebellion. The Band was one of the two groups that made such an impact musically by going against the grain of burgeoning psychedelic space rock of the late '60s (the other being Creedence Clearwater Revival). The work within is nothing short of a masterpiece; mysterious, soulful, often gritty and heartwrenching. Blossoming Canadian songwriter Robbie Robertson's flawless portrait of Americana is more vivid than most musical portraits painted by American artists. Songs like 'To Kingdom Come,' 'Caledonia Mission,' and a cover of Dylan's 'I Shall Be Released' seem to come straight from within the grooves of 19th Century American life. The harrowing opener 'Tears of Rage' (penned by Band-member Richard Manuel and Bob Dylan) is one of the outfit's most heartwrenching tunes, while songs like 'Chest Fever' and 'The Weight' are quintessential Band. The musicianship on this album is superb, needless to say, displaying talent in the voices of Manuel, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko, while Garth Hudson's keyboards are flawless.
Perhaps the only problem with "Music From Big Pink" was, along with their self-titled sophomore album, it would become so respected it would all too often cause later worthy efforts like "Stage Fright" or "Cahoots" to pale in comparison, according to many critics. Nonetheless, "Music From Big Pink" is an all-out masterpiece, something that will always be identified as one of the prime musical events of its time."
The music is phenomenal, but...
George N. Dussault II | MA | 11/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"...unfortunately this particular release is a victim of the loudness war in mastering. Maximized and limited to a sinful degree. Excellent music like this deserves better."