Rock of Ages

One of the all-time great live rock albums has been made even greater, with the two-disc expanded edition of the Band's Rock of Ages—the centerpiece of Capitol's second, final wave of Band reis

One of the all-time great live rock albums has been made even greater, with the two-disc expanded edition of the Band's Rock of Ages—the centerpiece of Capitol's second, final wave of Band reissues. Recorded over a couple of celebratory nights as 1971 turned into 1972, Rock of Ages was originally released as a critically acclaimed, 18-track double-LP. Here, the entire original set comes on the first disc, with highlights including Allan Toussaint's textured horn arrangements on the classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Across the Great Divide." The second disc features all previously unreleased material from the concerts—including four numbers with special New Year's Eve guest Bob Dylan. The Dylan portion comprises "Down in the Flood," "When I Paint My Masterpiece," "Like a Rolling Stone," and—in his only live take on the song—the rollicking, ribald Basement Tapes duet with Levon Helm, "Don't Ya Tell Henry." The 24-bit remastering and new presentation are exemplary, with extensive liner notes by Band authority Rob Bowman. Along with studio sets Cahoots and Northern Lights, Southern Cross, the Band's catalog is made complete with a bonus-track-enhanced Moondog Matinee—the group's celebration of vintage rock'n'roll, which includes definitive covers of Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" and Chuck Berry's "Going Back to Memphis" (each blessed by Helm's country/soul vocals). Capitol deserves our thanks for finally giving the Band the treatment its catalog deserves; these albums are rock for the ages.—BB