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[Peter Viney]  by Peter Viney

Copyright © 1998 Peter Viney

(If you know stuff that I don't, please don't simply sneer. Write in and add it!)

Recent discussions on the website about possibilities for a properly-done box set (which Across The Great Divide was not) caused me to review my notes.

The Holy Grail for collectors and fans would be unreleased, un-heard of tracks. Are there any? It seems unlikely. The received opinion would be that The Band rehearsed what they needed for an album, then cut it.Those were not the days of putting down 20 tracks to use 12. The "new" Band have cut more than they needed, there is evidence for this.

The original Band? I don't know. The story goes that masters were lost in a fire at Garth's house. What we see is what we get. What we get is all there might be. A rarities album won't work on the basis of a live version of Smoke Signal, or any other live rarity. It would have to be a Robbie Robertson production, so The Band would end with The Last Waltz. I'm listing what I think there might be. It seems that Robbie holds the rights, so no argument about the cut-off point. The few rare snippets from To Kingdom Come and Across The Great Divide could be re-used.

Between Ronnie Hawkins and Dylan.

There are the singles:

Leave Me Alone - The Canadian Squires
Released on Pebbles Vol 10. So it exists as a digital recording.

Uh-Uh-Uh - The Canadian Squires
B-side. Singles exist. I don't have one, but I've heard it on tape.

He Don't Love You - Levon & The Hawks
Already present on the box set. Worth repeating. It's the B-side of both the following.

Go-Go Liza Jane - Levon & The Hawks
Unreleased on CD. Singles exist.

The Stones I Throw (Will Free All Men) - Levon & The Hawks An A-side. I have a British Atlantic 45 if no one else has. Could be remastered.

Levon & The Hawks live

Tapes exist from Dallas and London, Ontario in unuseable quality. If the Pop Ivey's set was the source for Do The Honky Tonk on the box set, then there are twenty other possibilities. (see my article on Moondog Matinee on the site). I'd vote for finding Howling For My Baby, Work Song, A Sweeter Girl, Smack Dab In The Middle, You Don't Know Me, Share Your Love With Me.

The Basement Tapes

There's a lot of stuff with Dylan on The Genuine Basement Tapes series.

There are four cuts with Tiny Tim from You are What You Eat Be My Baby, I Got You Babe, Memphis, Sonny Boy.

Hmm. Let's stick to Hawks-only material.

Bacon Fat - The Band (Robertson-Hudson)
An extract circulates. Tantalizing - clearly a demo, not basement. Why is it cut so short? Does the whole thing exist of this song covered by Taj Mahal? Quite possibly not, or why would the extract be circulating? (But as a Robertson-Hudson composition you could always license the Taj version in its place).

Several exist in good quality. Some are basically Robbie, others basically Garth.
Gloria in Excelsis / Banana Boat Song

If I Lose, Let Me Lose (Ralph Stanley)
Originally the signature tune of Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers. This is sung by Levon Helm. Sounds like a demo rather than true Basement. Good bootleg on After The Crash Volume 2. Perfectly useable.

You Say you Love Me
Richard Manuel sings. Awful quality on the versions I've heard, with severe print through. Probably best confined to bootlegs.

Ferdinand The Imposter
They surely have a full version of this. Bits exist on various Basement boots. One sounds very basement-like and is cut. Another sounds like a full demo.

Ruben Remus (guitar instrumental version)
Definitely worth it/

Beautiful Thing #1 (Danko / Manuel)
Beautiful Thing #2

Rough. This song was later cut by Eric Clapton. The nearest thing to a good Band-like unreleased song. But see below.

The Band Studio Material

They really do not seem to have recorded extra material. A multi-takes tape of We Can Talk has been reported and reviewed.

Little Birdies
By Levon's dad. A must. It exists on Winterland tapes. I think they did it at Woodstock. In which case, a good tape exists. They unearthed The Weight, Long Black Veil, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever for the Woodstock 4CD box set. So the whole show must exist.

The post-Big Pink Goldstar sessions according to Danko included Key To The Highway, My House Ain’t But A Mile and a Quarter, Sitting Here A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (which may or may not be Mose Allison’s One Room Country Shack which includes these lines), Back At The Old Country Shack (which is conceivably the same song), Liza Jane (presumably a recut of The Canadian Squires Go Go Liza Jane). These have not turned up to my knowledge, and they say the tapes were destroyed by fire. Other sources say that Rick was joking anyhow.

The Band sessions seem to have been videotaped (see Classic Albums and laser discs) which means there's a rehearsal of at least King Harvest in existence. There might be others.

Studio Versions of Live Songs

Baby Don't Do It (studio)

Endless Highway (studio) (presumably)

Get Up Jake (studio)
This song was first revealed in a live performance on Rock of Ages, but the studio cut dates from The Band sessions and was finally released in 1973 as the B-side of Ain’t Got No Home from Moondog Matinee, remaining a rarity until the To Kingdom Come 2 CD set in 1989. Producer John Simon says it was one of his favourite tracks, but there simply wasn’t enough room on the album.

1970 Songs for Other Artists

Davey's On The Road Again (John Simon / Robbie Robertson)
This appeared on the 1970 John Simon's Album, without Band-members. It was covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1978 and became a hit. It makes you wonder whether there was ever a Band demo of it. I've never heard even a hint of one. But it would seem possible.

Snow (Jesse Winchester/ Robbie Robertson)
Song from the first Jesse Winchester album. I would have thought this would have been written during the sessions, so I think it's highly unlikely that a Band or Robbie demo existed.

You could argue that both of these compositions come from such a vital period that it would be fair to license the John Simon & Jesse Winchester versions for a box set.

The Isle of Wight

Their set was taped. There wasn't anything really unusual. I suppose the obvious is Don't Ya Tell Henry, though Woodstock probably includes a better quality tape.

Woodstock 1969

Don't Ya Tell Henry
We Can Talk
Tears of Rage
Chest Fever

All unreleased - there must be more too. Only the first two would be worth considering for rarity value. Tears of Rage is on a Japanese video bootleg.

Hollywood Bowl, October 1970

Heavily bootlegged. Some interesting live versions that failed to maintain a place in the set list:

Strawberry Wine
Jemima Surrender
Look Out Cleveland

Rock of Ages out-takes

Appearing on Crossing The Great Divide bootleg (but all are versions of studio songs):

Up On Cripple Creek
Great - but been there, done that

The Rumour, Rockin' Chair, Smoke Signal
Rare enough live to be worth including

Planet Waves out-takes

Appearing on Crossing The Great Divide bootleg

Instrumental Jam
Crosswind Jamboree


Robertson supposedly spent months in 1972 to 1973 working on an avant-garde piece based on Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki's work. It was to be for the Band. Barney Hoskyns says it was 'a kind of symphony about the experience of the American Indians.' Another quote from Hoskyns suggests that about 15 minutes may have been completed. This may be in writing rather than recorded form. Whichever, it's well under wraps.

Moondog Matinee out-takes

Barney Hoskyns notes that they considered but rejected their well-known stage cover versions for Moondog Matineee, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Lovin’ You Is Sweeter Than Ever and also Larry Williams’ Bony Moronie which leaves you wondering whether there are out-takes in existence. None of these have ever emerged.

Bony Moronie
This would be the interesting one as there are no other versions by them.

Jersey City 1973

For: rare version of Saved has been bootlegged. Against: It's crap.

Watkin's Glen

The official CD rounds up songs which hadn't featured on The Last Waltz, Rock of Ages and Before The Flood. The rest of the concert must exist, including jams with The Dead and The Allmans on Around and Around and Johnny B.Goode. I saw a 2 LP set twenty years ago but couldn't afford it.

Known tracks missing from the official CD: Saved, Don't Do It, The Shape I'm In, Across The Great Divide, This Wheel's On Fire, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - none of which (except Saved) don't exist in other live versions.

Before The Flood 1974 tour

Several rare live versions from different shows, notably:

Share Your Love With Me
Chicago 3 January 1974

Holy Cow
Chicago 3 January 1974 - a must. Seemingly the only live version. And great.

King Harvest
several good ones

There are good bootlegs from Boston, New York, Chicago and LA (at least). They're on CD. Remember that Zappa used CD bootlegs as source material for his own official releases. A case of turning the tables.

No Reason To Cry sessions

Steppin Out
Levon does a great version on Happy Happy Birthday Eric bootleg

Hard Times
Rick Danko on vocal from the same bootleg.

There are other jams, including Who Do You love? with Van Morrison. On the official Eric Clapton record, two songs are written by and backed by Band members, and sound so-Band like that they'd be worthy of inclusion:

Beautiful Thing (Danko / Manuel)
There's also a Basement version.

All Our Past Times (Danko)
There's also a Last Waltz version

S.N.A.C.K Benefit 1975

Heavily bootlegged. Some Band members with Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Ignoring stuff available (better) elsewhere, I'd choose Ain't That a Lot of Love. Next choices, a stunning Knocking On Heaven's Door and the final Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Cons: needs permission from Dylan and Young.

Palladium Show, New York, 18 September 1976

Broadcast with horn section. Excellent quality, many tracks worth including, especially:

Totally different to the studio version, so a must.

Forbidden Fruit
Also appears on the King Biscuit 1976 Washington shows - but this is better

King Biscuit, Washington DC September 1976

Heavily bootlegged. Good, but hardly rare anymore.The three King Biscuit radio show CDs differ by one track.

Saturday Night Live, 1976

Video clips circulate. There might be good tapes of the audio. Several possibilities, though Georgia On My Mind has both rarity value and historical interest, as it was said to influence the election of Carter.

The Last Waltz

See The Complete Last Waltz bootleg plus Clapton bootlegs:

A lot of unreleased stuff, and the bootleg is damned good. It would be easier to put out The Last Waltz Volume 3 (or CD3) to keep the integrity of the material. Highly unlikely - Robbie had the choice to do it 1978, on To Kingdom Come and on Across The Great Divide and didn't. If the set was so carefully over-dubbed he might not want to touch the songs that didn't get the treatment. I've always felt that Danko was either selfless or financially ill-advised in failing to get either of his compositions, This Wheel's On Fire and All Our Past Times onto the original release.

Georgia On My Mind
This Wheel's On Fire
Acadian Driftwood
Baby Don't Do It
(with Muddy Waters)
All Our Past Times (with Eric Clapton)
Four Strong Winds (with Neil Young & Joni Mitchell)
Shadows and Light (with Joni Mitchell ... it didn't work)
Furry Sings The Blues
(with Joni Mitchell ... nor did this)
(with Bob Dylan) there are the two long Instrumental Jams

Richard Manuel

Robbie was prepared to put She Knows on the box set (if not Remedy). If he has the say - and all evidence says he has - he might be prepared to stretch the definition beyond 1978 to include solo Richard (though it seems this is coming on Woodstock Records).


So what's missing - crucially - is out-takes from the era of the three classic albums. Yes, there are plenty of great live shows, but so little un-released studio stuff. Dylan never managed to keep the lid on unreleased material. If there is any, the Band have been much more succesful. Would they actually want it out? Or would they rather preserve the mystique? Who knows. They haven't kept as tight a lid on live material, but then again no one else has succeeded in doing this either. There's nowhere near such control over "new Band" out-takes … allegedly. But either there is stricter control over the original Band's material or it was indeed destroyed by fire / wiped / never existed.It seems so unlikely that they never cut and rejected songs (apart from Get Up Jake and Twilight!)

It should be a 4CD set:

  1. EARLY WORK - up to and including 1970

  2. LIVE WORK - plenty to choose from

  3. SESSIONS - Clapton, Kinky Friedman, Jesse Winchester, Bobby Charles, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr etc.

  4. SOLO - "non-album" solo material between 1978 and 1991's "new Band" - rounding up Robbie's The Fat Man, Between Trains, Levon's Summertime Blues, Garth's Our Lady Queen of The Angels and lots of live stuff. Album cuts where more than three of them played are also candidates.

This putative 4th CD shows the problem - they'd have to be working together on the project, i.e. Robbie AND The Band. Yes, it could be done and should be. But there are four people out there who KNOW what else there might be. Hope they'll reveal it.

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