The Band recorded its 1968 debut, "Music From Big Pink," in a small, rural house near Woodstock, N.Y.
The Band recorded its 1968 debut, "Music From Big Pink," in a small, rural house near Woodstock, N.Y. For its second album, the back-to-roots classic known simply as "The Band," producer John Simon and the quintet that had once been Bob Dylan's backing group found a different atmosphere: They built a "clubhouse" studio in what had once been Sammy Davis Jr.'s Los Angeles pool house. This 75-minute DVD exploring the album's back story is rich with detail. All members are seen and heard from, though Richard Manuel committed suicide in 1986 and Rick Danko died in 1999. (Our thanks to BBC, one of the primary film sources.) The mysteries of making "The Band"—containing such peerless tracks as "The Weight," "Rag Mama Rag" (which Eric Clapton compares to "Blue Suede Shoes"), "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" are revealed to some degree. Just one of many precious examples: Robbie Robertson breaks down "Cripple Creek" audio track by audio track at the recording console, isolating Levon Helm's drums and vocals, illustrating how Garth Hudson got the memorable electric Jew's harp sound, or "wah-wah clarinet," from his keyboards.—WR