Rhino Records, United Artists, and MGM Home Entertainment have teamed for a variety of projects to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the final concert by the original incarnation of the Band, later re
Rhino Records, United Artists, and MGM Home Entertainment have teamed for a variety of projects to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the final concert by the original incarnation of the Band, later released as an album and a film under the name "The Last Waltz." United Artists is re-releasing the Martin Scorsese-directed film for a limited theatrical run beginning April 5, while Rhino will issue a four-CD boxed set version of the album on April 16. A special edition DVD from MGM arrives May 7.
The five-hour show, held on Thanksgiving Day at the Winterland Theatre in San Francisco, found the Band's Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel backed by a dazzling array of guests, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, and Van Morrison. The original 30-track album documenting the show was released by Warner Bros. in 1978.
The new boxed set, supervised and remastered by Robertson, tacks on 24 more tracks from the concert and rehearsals. Among them are Band performances with Mitchell, Clapton, Dylan, and Young; Robertson's demo for "The Last Waltz" theme; two previously unreleased jams; and more. Robertson also wrote the introduction for the 80-page CD booklet, which features rare photos and memorabilia.
Beyond digital transfers and sound mixes, MGM's special-edition DVD sports a featurette with interviews of Robertson and Scorsese, plus the latter's original storyboards. A previously unseen "jam footage" series features the Band with such guests as Young, Clapton, Starr, Stephen Stills, Ron Wood, and Dr. John. Robertson and Scorsese also offer a shot-by-shot commentary track, while Helm, Hudson, and various other participating musicians and crew members supply a second commentary of their own.
The film returns to theaters April 5 in San Francisco, and will also open in New York (April 10), Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Toronto (April 19). Robertson also supervised a digital remix of the soundtrack, which will be heard for the first time in Dolby 5.1 stereo sound.
Although its members pursued various projects following "The Last Waltz," the Band reformed -- minus Robertson, who was a vocal critic of the decision -- in 1993 to record the album "Jericho." Two more sets followed, but Danko's death in late 1999 deactivated the Band yet again. Helm continues to tour; Robertson's most recent solo album was 1998's "Contact From the Underworld of Red Boy" (Capitol).