Sunday, November 1, 2015

40 Year Itch : Ashes of Laughter

Nathalie Vogel, 1975
The Band : Opehlia

On November 1, 1975, The Band released their sixth studio album Northern Lights, Southern Cross. By this time I was a 7th Grader at Sparks Middle School outside Reno, Nevada. A local radio station donated all their extra 45s to the Washoe County Library where we could check them out for as long as we wanted. I checked out The Band's "Ophelia" and probably still have it somewhere.     Northern Lights, Southern Cross was seen as a comeback album, especially for Robbie Robertson whose songwriting and guitar playing is excellent throughout. I love his guitar solos on "Ophelia". Pure taste. 

   I'm still surprised Allen Toussaint didn't do the arrangements on "Ophelia". Apparently Garth Hudson did, but he must have earned a lot from working alongside Toussaint on "Life is a Carnival" and the live tour that wound up on Rock of Ages.

"Acadian Driftwood", a song about the Canadians who would flee to Louisiana and become Cajuns, is another gem.
  Levon Helm called Northern Lights, Southern Cross the best album since The Band's debut and many critics agreed. It would rank #9 in the Village Voice critics poll, one spot ahead of The Who By Numbers. It would have been a great album to go out on but The Band had to record the contract fulfilling Islands before splitting up following their famous Last Waltz.

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