After hitting home runs with their first two albums, members of The Band have been living down that legacy. This abridged compilation of a 2005 Band boxed set contains 19 tracks, with a deluxe-edition DVD including six film clips. The CD starts with a rousing recording of Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, the pre-Band outfit that occasionally cut its teeth at Norman frat parties.
As expected, the compilation provides some definitive Band moments: the trademark sharing of verses (“Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos”), great storytelling (“The Weight”) and Richard Manuel’s achingly fragile falsetto (“I Shall Be Released”). Try to find a groovier rhythm section than the interplay showcased on “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” and “Don’t Do It.”
This compilation of choice cuts should be indispensable, but ultimately misses the mark by trying to please both hard-core fans and uninitiated ears. Obsessive completists probably already own the 2005 collection, and novices would be better served checking out The Band’s debut and sophomore efforts.