"One of the most insightful and intelligent rock bios in recent memory."
"The story is astounding, the telling is wickedly funny, and Helm's take on Robbie Robertson is caustic enought to melt rust."
Arkansas-born Helm, drummer for classic-rock outfit The Band, and Davis ( Fleetwood ) here present a down-home account of the quintet's development. Whereas
Barney Hoskyns's recent Across the Great Divide: The Band and America portrayed the group as aesthetes squirreled away in
Woodstock, N.Y., this firsthand chronicle highlights earthier episodes: the musicians' lowbrow rockabilly antics in Canada and the South, their incarnation as Bob
Dylan's much-maligned backup band in the '60s and guitarist Robbie Robertson's estrangement from them in the late '70s. While Hoskyns quotes Robertson almost
exclusively, the guitarist is rarely heard from here. Helm denounces notions that he and his fellows were smug: "Calling it The Band seemed a little on the
pretentious, even blowhard side--burdened by greatness--but we never intended it that way." Although Helm and Davis open on the predictable downbeat--band
member Richard Manuel's suicide--they close positively, with kind words from Dylan and the hope of a comeback. Of the two books, this plainspoken effort proves
less dry and doesn't put its subjects on too high a pedestal.
--From Publishers Weekly, 1993
Enjoyable history of a seminal late-60's rock group, told by the group's drummer with the help of Davis (coauthor, Fleetwood, 1990, etc.). The Band were an
anomaly among groups of the era: Neither psychedelic nor commercial, their music harked back to the folk and blues roots of rock 'n' roll--and band members even
looked like they'd just stepped out of a tintype. Working in seclusion in Woodstock, New York, with their sometime employer Bob Dylan, the group crafted a music
that eerily captured the spirit of America's past. Here, Helm draws on his own memories of this heady time, along with interviews with surviving Band-men (other
than Robbie Robertson, with whom he's had a nasty falling out), to give a fairly honest appraisal of the music and the times. Unlike some other celebrity rock-star
memoirists, Helm doesn't concentrate on the sex and drugs that seem to be an integral part of any legitimate rock memoir, but describes as well the making of each
album and the genesis of the songs. He also gives a scathing portrait of the making of The Last Waltz, the film of the group's last megaconcert, given in 1976--a
film in which, Helm says, director Martin Scorsese glorified Robertson to the detriment of the group's other members. Helm's folksy manner can grate (``Memory
lane can be a pretty painful address at times''); overall, though, a readable and evenhanded account that will appeal to Band fans and 60's nostalgists (though
Barney Hoskyns's Across the Great Divide covers much of the same ground).
--Kirkus Reviews, 1993