When the Band called it quits on Thanksgiving 1976, it seemed like the end of an era. Fans of the group couldn't help but notice that the musical horizon was shifting toward disco and punk, two musical forms diametrically opposed to everything the B… Read more
When the Band called it quits on Thanksgiving 1976, it seemed like the end of an era. Fans of the group couldn't help but notice that the musical horizon was shifting toward disco and punk, two musical forms diametrically opposed to everything the Band had done and represented within modern rock music.
The individual members each began journeys down their individual paths, but the one who remained truest to the original ethos was Levon Helm. While not possessing a voice as soulful as Band-mate Richard Manuel, Helm's expressive Arkansas twang was at the heart of the Band's vocal blend and his utterly unique drumming technique - with drums that always sounded like real wooden drums - was at the root of the group's appeal.
Helm wasted little time assembling a new group and the list of musicians that quickly signed on to the project was astonishing. He recruited Booker T Jones and the two MGs, Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, another group synonymous with brilliant technique and tasteful economy. New Orleans musical master Dr. John also climbed on board, adding flavor and style. As if this weren't enough to entice listeners, the group was fleshed out with the additional guitar talents of Fred Carter and Paul Butterfield blowing harp and belting out the blues numbers.
Helm also enlisted an incredible horn section consisting of Howard Johnson, the man behind the horn arrangements on the Band's live recordings, in addition to the Saturday Night Live Horns (Malone, Marini and Rubin), yet to become notorious as the horn section for The Blues Brothers.
Helm's RCO All-Stars were a dream aggregation in every respect. They recorded a self-titled album that consisted primarily of good-time, bar-band R&B covers. The album was a delight, but it went by relatively unnoticed within the musical upheaval taking place in 1977. However, when this group took to the road, audiences were treated to a remarkable musical experience, proving that Helm still had a great deal to offer.