By Gregory AdamsIt's been 35 years since the Band staged their classic The Last Waltz, an epic farewell concert filmed by Martin Scorsese that featured guest stars galore. While the group staged a couple of reunions in the '80s and '90s, The Last Waltz was the last time the classic lineup of Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm played these songs together. While the deaths of Manuel and Danko — not to mention the solo careers of Helm and Robertson — prevent the Band from reuniting, keyboardist/saxophonist Hudson has taken the time to revisit his past via a collection of newly recorded takes done with some of his pals.
Titled Garth Hudson Presents a Canadian Celebration of the Band, the disc brings together 18 of the Band's greatest hits as interpreted by a host of Canuck-only talent. A press release explains that considering former drummer Helm's American citizenship, this is the first-ever Band collection to feature an all-Canadian cast of musicians. Guests include Neil Young, Blue Rodeo, Hawksley Workman, the Sadies and Bruce Cockburn, among others.
Hudson curated the set, picking both the performers and which songs to tackle, from cuts written when the Band worked with Bob Dylan all the way up to their latter-day albums. Despite the different set of contributors, Hudson believes these reworkings feel just as natural as the originals.
"It was very organic how the artists and songs matched up so perfectly," he said in a statement. "I had aural visions of how each song could be enhanced by the talent of each artist... each voice, instrument, and spirit."
Despite plucking the tracklist from all over the Band's illustrious career, Hudson, who performs keyboards on each cut, explains that there is a synergy between each song that makes the collection magical. It's this connection that has Hudson so excited to showcase his favourite tunes.
"These songs were among the most enjoyable to me while the Band was together because of the words, or the story, or humour... an example of all three is the reading of 'Clothes Line Saga,' written by Bob Dylan and sung by Margo Timmins with Cowboy Junkies," he says. "Each of these songs stands on its own, yet they mystically sequence together as a string of jewels."
Garth Hudson Presents a Canadian Celebration of the Band will be released November 16 by Sony Music.
Garth Hudson Presents a Canadian Celebration of the Band:
1. Danny Brooks & The Rockin' Revelators- "Forbidden Fruit" 2. Mary Margret O'Hara & the Sadies - "Out Of The Blue" 3. Peter Katz & The Curious- "Acadian Driftwood" 4. Neil Young and The Sadies- "This Wheel's On Fire" 5. Suzie McNeil - "Ain't Got No Home" 6. Cowboy Junkies - "Clothes Line Saga" 7. Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle - "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" 8. Bruce Cockburn & Blue Rodeo - "Sleeping" 9. The Road Hammers - "Yazoo Street Scandal" 10. Raine Maida - "The Moon Struck One" 11. The Sadies - "The Shape I'm In" 12. Chantal Kreviazuk - "Tears Of Rage" 13. Hawskley Workman - "I Loved You Too Much" 14. Great Big Sea - "Knockin' Lost John" 15. Blue Rodeo - "King Harvest" 16. The Trews - "Move To Japan" 17. Garth Hudson - "Genetic Method (Anew)" 18. Ian Thornley & Bruce Cockburn - "Chest Fever"