The Band The Last Waltz

This deluxe edition caps off the recent restoration of the Band's catalogue in much the same way as the actual concert capped off their storied career: with just about everything a fan could hope for. The original three-album set is here expanded to four discs, with a conscious eye toward better continuity. Bootleggers have long been in possession of the missing pieces, but it's always a pleasure to hear those pieces finally brought up to an acceptable sonic standard, and it's definitely the sound quality that should be this package's calling card. Those already familiar with the show will surely be moved by the added clarity given to Levon Helm's vocal on "Dixie," or Paul Butterfield's barnstorming harmonica solo on "Mystery Train." Those who always wanted more of Muddy Waters' and Van Morrison's monumental performances will be pleased as well, and Bob Dylan's uncharacteristic set is completed with the addition of "Hazel." Yet it is some of the Band's own previously unreleased performances, such as a majestic "Acadian Driftwood" and a surprisingly gutsy version of "The Weight," that shows what a loss it's been not having them around since then. Time has proven that this show was truly the end of an era, as punk would wipe the slate clean only a few months later. Now, with The Last Waltz restored for the ages, time will again prove that this night was as good as rock and roll would ever get. (Rhino)