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Band Demos

[Peter Viney]  By Peter Viney

Thanks to Ian Woodward for supplying the insert scans and starting me off on this line of research, thanks to Simon from the Guestbook for pointing me to the Mojo quotes, and to Gene for finding me the other two Los Lobos demos.

There has been speculation about the lost 1990 Sony album and various other pre-Jericho recordings by the post-Last Waltz Band. The usual assumption is that 'Sony album' consisted of the Jericho outtakes which have circulated widely. Other sources believe that the Jules Shear sessions were the Sony album, and that the Jericho outtakes were later.

Garth Hudson said in a 1994 Mojo interview with David Cavanagh:

DC: Did you miss Robbie Robertson's input?
GH: Oh sure. We knew we had to look at the industry in another way, and that is encouraging young songwriters to listen to the tradition and the standards of the writing. In other words, we began to be interested in the co-writing possibilities.

The existence of sessions with Jules Shear and David Hidalgo and Louie Perez suggests they were seeking proven younger songwriters. Some people have speculated that Bruce Hornsby also tried out songs with them, evidenced by the appearance of two of his songs on the Jericho outtakes.

Barney Hoskyns says in the first edition of Across The Great Divide that they were 'prodded into' the Sony deal by Columbia's Rick Chertoff, but had departed the label by late 1991. In 1989 Chertoff became Senior Vice President of A&R at Columbia and signed The Band. Rick Danko recalls working with Rick Chertoff and him mentioning Prince's 1999 as a possible cover. In the interview below he mentions Paul Simon covers. Chertoff was involved with Jericho as well as the later Largo project with Garth and Levon. He worked with Hyman and Bazilian in The Hooters. He is credited as producer of Atlantic City on Jericho and Hyman and Bazilian of The Hooters play on it.

So it was presumably Chertoff who was the "young CBS /Sony executive" in this tale from Sid Griffin of The Long Ryders.

"In the late spring of 1990, a young CBS/Sony executive called me at my Los Angeles home and asked me, seriously and innocently, if I had any songs for The Band, it seems the Levon Helm/Rick Danko/Garth Hudson triumvirate, newly-signed, was looking for material.

I didn't hang up but I thought about it: at first I reasoned it was a prank. Yet it was on the level. This hip young fellow at CBS (every label has one) got the idea that The Band might hook up to a "younger demographic" (his words, not mine) if they had some tunes by younger writers. Myself, Paul Westerberg and Los Lobos (David Hidalgo and Louis Perez) were mentioned as three logical choices. OK, two logical choices and me.

At that time, I was yet another musician who had clearly used eight or nine of his alloted minutes in the limelight. I put together a sample tape of four tunes and sent it to the record company, who promptly rejected it. A different executive called and said, in perfect Californianese: "Hey, I heard some good things, heard some good things ... Next time, let's focus in on who we are writing for." As if I, of all people, didn't know The Band's rapsheet.

One got the feeling there was a certain standard to be met here, a better-not-send-'em-the Long Ryder-rejects vibe to it. So I tried again. Now, if you had told me when I was growing up in Kentucky, falling asleep to the sound of distant trains rolling down the L&N tracks towards Nashville while the music of the sternwheeler Belle of Louisville's calliope played Sousa as it pushed itself upriver, that one day I would be requested to submit songs to The Band, I would've gotten the shakes so bad I could not have stood, much less walked.

How DO you write for The Band? Logic would dictate that you do as others have done. Robbie Robertson is the key. His subject matter expanded far past the superficial aspects of romance, to a more adult take on same, but his best-played card was his portrayal of rural American life. And that's how I found myself writing reveries about rivers, gospel-based paeans to plain-spoken townsfolk, second-line New Orleans shuffles about changing values in changing times, and roadhouse boogies based on the streamlined curves of a 1954 Chevrolet flashing down US 42. The lyrics and music aimed to reflect America's sense of movement, its optimism for better days, its promise of fresh fields to plough beyond the horizon, and its melting pot of ideas, people and musics.

So what happened to this second batch of songs submitted?

Nothing. They were not deemed suitable either. I now know why. It is one thing to ape a style or even to enthusiastically imitate your heroes. But what the public responds to, on the deepest level, is artists being true to themselves and not operating in a given manner because circumstances dictated. I wrote some fine imitation Band material. Got the demos to prove it. What I forgot was how to be myself. Me. The guy they called in the first place."

The Sony album is mentioned in a Rick Danko interview in 1993:

A few years ago Sony Music offered them a record deal and they headed up to Woodstock, New York, to get material together. To replace Manuel they brought in Stan Szelest, a piano player who sounded like Manuel because -- remarkably -- Manuel had joined the Hawks as Szelest's replacement in 1961. Now that Richard was gone, Stan had a second shot at the chance he missed. The songs that came out of those sessions had the loose, funky feel of Stage Fright. Full of renewed optimism, The Band brought the tapes to Sony -- and Sony said, well, gee, maybe you guys should think about covering something by Paul Simon.

Some of the heart went out of the project then. A lot more went out when Stan Szelest admitted he'd been having chest pains through the recording. One night they got bad, and Stan died. Danko, Helm and Hudson cut some covers for Sony, but were unhappy. Eventually they secured their release from the label and took their tapes to Great Pyramid Records, a small Tennessee record company where no one's going to tell them what to do.

At Sony, explains Rick Danko, The Band's singer/ bassist and sometimes fiddler/ guitarist, "there was a big indifference in the art department, in terms a what they thought was a '10' or a '5.' We're too old to be groomed, you know. We are The Band. I am 50 years old. I play my music. I do what I do. There's no danger of us becoming a heavy metal act or something that we're not, so we kind of fell out. Although we did put [Springsteen's] Atlantic City on the albums from those [Sony] sessions. Also, we retained the masters, so we have done some fine outtakes that I am sure will break the surface eventually. Time is on our side."

Interviewed by Bill Flanagan, Musician, December 1993

Stan Szelest was replaced briefly by Billy Preston in The Band sometime in 1991, which gave them access to another noted singer / songwriter. Preston had been in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band with Levon Helm and Rick Danko in 1989, and had connections with The Band going back to the 1976 No Reason To Cry sessions with Eric Clapton. Unfortunately, Preston ran into serious legal trouble and got arrested. There is no evidence that he ever played with The Band in the studio, though there are several unexplained 'non-Band' voices on the demos. There are amateur video tapes of Billy Preston with The Band from July 1991 at Arrowhead Ranch, New York and five or six audience audio tapes, covering Virginia, Baltimore and New York City gigs the same month.

The Jericho Outtakes

These are all different versions to the released album. These are said to be out-takes, but none of them are final mixes. There seems little overdubbing and backing voices are less pronounced. There's an almost live feel - rehearsals rather than out-takes. The bass is over-present throughout, a common problem with live recordings. As bass isn't directional it leaks onto every mic and over-amplifies itself. There rarely seem to be two drummers, and Garth plays a lot of accordion throughout the first half. These tracks can't have been sequenced as an album, as the four numbers with horns are in a row together. They might well be the earlier versions of the album with John Simon.

Simon said this in the Jawbone interview with Lee Gabites on the site:

Lee: What do you think of that album (Jericho) looking back on it now?
John: I have some mixes of some of the songs that I prefer to the ones that were released.
Lee: Didn't you originally mix all of that album?
John: Yeah. Chris Andersen and I went down to Chattanooga, which is where the record company were and they had their own studio. We did what I would call penultimate mixes. Just short of the final mix. Because we had no references to what things sounded like. So we left some things for The Band to finish some details. And our intention was to bring it back to Woodstock and give it a listen. Let everybody else hear a little bit and then go back and do it right. Finish it up. Because they were all lodged in a computer anyway, it would have been easy to do. So that was our plan, but what happened was ... The guys in The Band - don't ask me why - decided to fire me in a sense and finish it themselves. They added some elements to some of the songs and they cut a new song and just changed things around. I think it was a mistake.

That implies that the outtakes are not the lost Sony album but an earlier version of the Pyramid album. There are two Bruce Hornsby songs and some have suggested he tried these out with them. Hornsby was playing with Robbie Robertson a year later in Seville and on TV shows, and appeared with The Band at Woodstock 94.

When the Crossing The Great Divide bootleg appeared, it had the demo versions of Blind Willie McTell and Atlantic City, together with The Box Tops cover Soul Deep. These are dated 1991.

The missing tracks from the final released Jericho are Blind Willie McTell, Too Soon Gone and Blues Stay Away From Me.

Circulating demo tracks

Caves of Jericho
Levon lead vocal.

Shine A Light
Rick takes the first verse, then hands over to someone else - not Levon - for the next. This could be Randy Ciarlante or John Simon (who plays piano and does backing vocal on the final version) or someone unknown. Great slide guitar which was dropped from the final version.

Move to Japan
This has a very live feel. Garth's accordion is prominent.

Country Boy
Richard Manuel. This is the older tape that they preserved for the final album.

Night On The Town (Bruce Hornsby)
Title track of a Bruce Hornsby album. Neither Rick nor Levon seem to sing lead either, though they can be heard in the background. It starts with 'shave and a haircut- two bits' rhythm. Then this version takes too many directions and is ultimately too messy to get anywhere, There's a great bit of wild Garth organ.

The Same Thing
Levon counts this in and sings. A looser feel than the final cut.

'tikki tikki' birds sound effect starts before Same Thing finishes and runs right into this - suggesting some post production effort. Rick sings.

Atlantic City
This has some odd and interesting breaks where only a drum flourish is heard. A nice idea that got dropped (probably for the best though). Levon's vocal is not quite as subtle.

Circle of Time
This is new and it's a loping mid-sixties style soul influenced song. Think about mid-period Robert Parker or Levon & The Hawks to get the feel. Rick Danko sings lead, supported (I think) by a female singer. The prominent instruments are bass, drums and guitar with less piano and a touch of synth with a horns sounds. I'd guess an unfinished demo rather than a finished out-take, the bass is so over-prominent that it can't be a final mix, though all the elements are there. Jim Weider bends some very un-Band like guitar sounds. If this had made it through to Jericho. it would definitely have been one of the best tracks on the album.

The Tide Will Rise (Music: Bruce Hornsby / Words: Bruce Hornsby and John Hornsby)
Levon sings lead. This song found its way to Hornsby's January 1993 Harbor Lights album, and is a song to his ancestors, the watermen of Virginia. This is presumably an earlier version then. With words like 'they say we're a dying breed, they say we're gonna disappear' it reminds me of Cahoots, complete with tinkling orientalish synth and guitar sounds. They put out worse than this in the past (most of Islands and Cahoots for starters). Also it's hard to tell how different a clean final mix would be.

The four songs below run after each other, and all feature Garth on horns rather than keyboard. There are usually multiple horns. On the final versions on Jericho Bobby Strickland added sax, and Dave Douglas added trumpet. They (or others) may well be on these sessions too.

Nobody Sings 'Em Like Ray
Jazzy tribute to Ray Charles with Garth Hudson performing powerfully on horns. Either there's overdubbing or assistance. Three voices share equal honours, Levon, Rick and another. It's also very catchy, and has great lyrics. It's incomprehensible that it wasn't used.

The bass sounds more prominent than the final version. The piano is terrific.

Keep The Home Fires Burning
This opens with a jaunty sax lead. Vocals are shared. The harmony chorus has a C&W feel.

Stuff You Gotta Watch
Opens in Sgt Pepper style with a voice announcing 'the triumphant return of the Kenny Wayne Orchestra!' then goes into a very live sounding big band pastiche version of Stuff You Gotta Watch which is faster and better than the album cut. Phenomonal!

So what happened to it? Randy Ciarlante had this to say in an interview with Jawbone:

So I jumped on board in 1990. Stan Szelest was in the band, Jimmy was still in the band and myself. I think Sredni Vollmer was in that configuration. Sred' was in on that too because Sred' had been playing with Rick on his solo shows, so I guess Rick figured lets bring Sred' on board and see how that works out. And that worked out great, that was fine. Sred' plays good harp and he sang some backgrounds and we did about a couple of weeks in that configuration. We went out west, Las Vegas, we did a little tour. We came back and the fellas continued to work on the Sony tracks, and then this kind of fizzled out. You would have to get the information from them, I really don't want to talk about what happened with that thing, but it fizzled out for one reason or another.

The last song that Richard Manuel wrote (with Gerry Goffin and Carole King) is said to be Breaking New Ground. Allegedly, it was demoed with Carole King singing. It's also been said that The Band attempted to record it once or twice up to the time of Jericho. No known tapes exist.

Harm Van Sleen added these notes:

On Shine a Light and Circle of Time, the unknown voice and slide guitar sound a lot like Colin Linden, who also co-wrote Remedy. The bass on Circle of Time doesn't sound like Rick Danko; my guess is that it's Rob Leon.

Night on the Town - the lead vocal is Randy.

Nobody Sings 'Em Like Ray - co-written by Jim Rooney, according to John Simon (by e-mail). Sounds like two different sax players to me; I asked Garth who it was but I forgot his answer! I thought it was Clifford Scott (because of the dedication on the Jericho cover and a mention of his involvement in Barney Hoskyns' book) but I believe Garth told me it wasn't him. The lead vocal sounds like Levon and Randy to me.

Barney Hoskyns also mentions another song for Jericho with Ronnie Hawkins guesting called Never Too Old To Rock & Roll but I don't know if it was actually recorded. I've certainly never heard it.

Champion Jack Dupree sessions

Another missing set of Band recordings were cut with Champion Jack Dupree. One song emerged on High on The Hog, Ramble Jungle. Rob Leon replaces Rick Danko on bass on that. Other bits were used on Jericho. It's easy to date them because Dupree re-located to Europe in 1958 (combining his musical career with being a chef specializing in New Orleans cooking). He returned to the USA in 1990, managing to cram three albums into a short time. He returned to Germany during 1991, where he died in January 1992. So these sessions should be either 1990 or 1991. Levon Helm described the sessions and says there's a whole album's worth:

Champion Jack came over here just before he passed. He's been gone a couple of years now, I guess. He came over on his American tour and Garth talked Dick Waterman, one of his managers, into talking with Champion Jack and stopping through Woodstock and we would try and do some recording with him - and that's what they did. We only had a couple of days to do it, but boy we had a good time. And it just went so well and so quick it seemed to have a mind of it's own. I'm really thankful that it happened because Champion Jack went back to where he lived in Germany, and as you know, passed away shortly after. So, I guess that this is some of his last recordings. There's enough in the vault to do a whole record, a Champion Jack Woodstock record, for lack of a title, but I don't know when that'll happen. We've told so many of our friends about it that we decided to go ahead and use one of the tunes, just so it wouldn't stay hid for ever. We would like it to maybe create demand for the whole thing, if it does, it'd be great, if not, at least we got some of it into the light of day. It really was a whole lot of fun to get to meet him and get to play with him.

Interviewed by Lee Gabites, October 1996 for Jawbone.

Aaron Hurwitz said:

Later, some other parts were overdubbed onto Blind Willie McTell including piano fills and a solo by the late, great bluesman Champion Jack Dupree. Wait, how could they overdub a late man's part later? "By the time we got to recording Blind Willie McTell, Champion Jack had passed away," Hurwitz recalls. "But several years ago, when he was up in this area, he came in and cut eight or nine tunes with The Band. And at that time, Garth had an idea of having Champion Jack do some overdubs on a version of Blind Willie McTell they'd done earlier - just put it on a slave reel; he didn't know what might come out of it. Then, when we went to cut the song for this record - and it was one of the last two we cut - we took that old version, got the tempo map and put it on as the count up front and played it in the same key. Then I was able to take some of Champion Jack's parts, especially the solo, put them into Pro Tools and edit them into the new arrangement, which was quite a bit different. We brought it back up to 24-track and flew him back in. We even flew some of Garth's tracks from the old take in, too." Another bit of recording legerdemain used to spice up the track involved turning the tape of one of Garth's parts upside down and playing it backward. "It's almost inaudible," Hurwitz says, "but it's a great effect."

Aaron Hurwitz, interviewed by Blair Jackson, Mix magazine, 1994.

Marie Spinosa mentioned the existence of the Champion Jack Dupree tapes in conversation with Jonathan Katz and said 'they sounded great.' There's never been any sign of them surfacing.

A small co-incidence, a 2002 release was a live album of Champion Jack Dupree recorded live in Manchester... in May 1966, when that famous Dylan / Hawks concert was recorded.

The Jules Shear Sessions

Two circulating collectors tapes are the Jules Shear sessions and the Los Lobos sessions. Two of the songs from the Jules Shear session appeared on the 1990s albums, Too Soon Gone on Jericho and The High Price of Love on High on the Hog. The Jules Shear sessions were bootlegged on CD as Tombstone in 2005, and on the 6 CDR set After The Waltz.

It has been claimed that these Jules Shear sessions are in fact the "lost 1990 Sony album". In contrast, Rick Danko mentions Atlantic City as one of the tracks and it wasn't on the Shear session. Hoskyns mentions both Atlantic City and Blind Willie McTell as being cut for the Sony album.

I'd guess this was a different project.

This is from Big O online magazine:

Since Robertson wrote the lion's share of The Band's music, they needed a producer to help them along. We've not had the good fortune of reading The Band's bio but around 1990 or 1991, they linked up with pop writer Jules Shear, who wrote Cyndi Lauper's hit All Through The Night. He was a sensitive songwriter who could write interesting material. He was also a Sony recording artist, the new label The Band had signed to.

At least 11 tracks were recorded with Jules Shear who sings and writes a fair amount but apparently the album was rejected by The Band's new label, Sony Music. As far as we can tell the title song |fTombstone and Never Again Or Forever were written by Jules Shear. The outtake Tombstone was originally recorded in 1991 by The Band with an amazing vocal from Rick Danko.

However, this song was also considered for inclusion on the Band's finally released album Jericho, which arrived in 1993 on the indie Pyramid label. The only song that survived these 1990-'91 sessions was Rick Danko's Too Soon Gone, a sweet farewell song for Richard Manuel included on Jericho. The version here is different.

Tombstone was hardly contemporary in feel except perhaps for the urban r'n'b of Money Whipped with its unusual spoken interludes. Mostly Rick Danko's superb vocals marked the way back to the Band of the old. Songs like All Creation, Too Soon Gone and the title track had their old sound and that rustic feeling of time stood still. But producer Jules Shear's presence was also profound. It sounds like him handling vocals on at least four of the nine songs.

Finally, an album without Robbie Robertson or Richard Manuel was probably not an album Sony wanted to release. Tombstone remains in somebody's vault with only Too Soon Gone released on 1993's Jericho and High Price of Love emerging on 1996's High On The Hog. The versions here were all recorded much earlier.

Demo cassette insert, Jules Shear/The Band

The Band site was recently (February 2006) sent two scans of cassette inserts, which suggest that these sessions were song publishing demos rather than a prospective album.

The first cassette insert is credited to Jules Shear/The Band and distributed by Funzalo Music. Against the song publishing theory is that not many of the songs are written by Jules Shear. I traced him on the BMI songwriter's website, and only Too Soon Gone and Never Again Forever are listed among his 353 compositions. Funzalo Music published both of them. The High Price of Love isn't among his listed works, though he's credited with it on High on the Hog. Of the 33 songs on ASCAP with Tombstone in the title, none are Funzalo Music or look likely. Tombstone is not listed as a registered Jules Shear composition (but see below). It's interesting that Jules Shear, like Rick Chertoff (mentioned above) has worked with Cyndi Lauper. Chertoff might be the connecting figure between the sets of outakes or demos.

From the Jules Shear on-line biography:

Allow Me's closing track, Too Soon Gone, dates back to an unreleased project Shear worked on with The Band. Shear wrote the moving lament with pianist Stan Szelest, as a tribute to the late Richard Manuel, whom Szelest had replaced in the legendary group. But Szelest himself passed away before the song could be recorded (The Band cut it on their 1993 album Jericho). The song was so well-received when Shear revived it in live performance recently that he decided to add it to Allow Me; ironically, Shear's version turned out to be an inadvertent but poignant eulogy to another member of The Band, Rick Danko, a friend and sometime songwriting partner of Shear's who died at the end of 1999."

I'm assuming The Band were all involved in all of the tracks on the demo, and that 'unreleased project' was more likely to be an abortive album than a collection of song pitches. I also don't believe it's 'lost Sony album'.

Levon Helm's voice doesn't appear very much, even in backing. The question is why the Danko tracks never surfaced on Band albums. Money Whipped is unusual and interesting, and Long Ways to Tennessee sounds very countryish, and certainly usable. Rick Danko sings Tombstone on the 1999 Blackie & The Rodeo Kings album, Kings of Love.


Tombstone, Tombstone (Jules Shear?)
Rick Danko - lead vocal / Jules Shear- backing vocal
The outtake Tombstone was originally recorded in 1991 by The Band as a demo with an amazing vocal from Rick Danko, and it also appears on the 1999 album Kings of Love by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Colin Linden writes in the notes from Kings of Love.

Colin Linden on Tombstone:
"I have a great demo of this Jules Shear song by The Band with an amazing Rick Danko vocal. For some reason, it never made it to one of their records. I remembered it real well, but forgot the words to the second verse. Unfortunately, so did Jules. Lucky for me though, my pal Jimmy Weider found a copy of the demo and sent it on to me."

River of Money
Jules Shear - lead vocal/ Rick Danko- backing vocal

All Creation (Rick Danko/ Eric Andersen)
Rick Danko - lead vocal/ Jules Shear - backing vocal
Later recorded by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen on Riding The Blinds. The song is © 1994, though presumably they didn't register it until then.

Baby Don't You Cry No More
Jules Shear /- lead vocal
Pretty standard rock song. The country slide guitar which appears on Jericho demos is also here. It's hard to know whether it's Jim Weider in different style or whether someone else sat in for demos.

The High Price of Love (Stan Szeleste / Jules Shear / The Band)
Levon Helm - lead vocal
Later recorded by The Band in 1995 for High on The Hog, at which time the words shifted to 'Throw it all into the Persian Gulf'. Otherwise it's treated in a similar way to the 1995 version.

Long Ways to Tennessee
Jules Shear - lead vocal, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Jules Shear - vocals
The most-Band like, it's accordion dominated

Too Soon Gone (Stan Szeleste / Jules Shear)
Rick Danko - lead vocal Later recorded by The Band in 1993 for Jericho. It benefits from the simpler treatment here. It also appears on Jules Shear's 2000 album Allow Me.

Money Whipped
Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Jules Shear - vocals (possibly also Garth Hudson on some bits, judging by his interjections on Young Blood five years later).
With spoken narratives in Tom Waits style. Excellent and very different.

Never Again or Forever (Jules Shear / Rick Danko)
Jules Shear - lead vocal
Later recorded on Jules Shear's album Unplug This in 1991 and Healing Bones in 1994, with Rick Danko guesting.

The Woodstock Sessions

From The New Yorker:

Helm's appearance on (Los Lobos') The Neighborhood was also proof of what many Los Lobos fans had suspected: the group's bloodline led back not to Valens but to The Band, the Canadian roots-rock pioneer group that featured Helm's singing and drumming and the painterly songwriting of Robbie Robertson. On Kiko (Slash/Warner, 1992), Los Lobos embraced their inner Band with a set of sophisticated, cinematic songs that ranged from the carnivalesque to the Biblical.

Demo cassette insert, Woodstock sessions

The second set is usually known as the Los Lobos sessions. Bug Music represents Los Lobos among its clients. The Battle is Over is an old Sonny Terry/ Brownie McGhee track, so not a new original for sale, and it was originally demoed in 1985 (see below). This is a more elaborate arrangement. What God Is Love is credited to Hidalgo/ Perez of Los Lobos. Any listener would say that the actual title is What Good is Love? so I'd guess that What God is Love is a misprint.

I checked this out with the Los Lobos site who kindly sent me a reply from Louie Perez:

David and I were invited to go to Woodstock in, I think '91, to write with them for a new record which finally came to be some time later as Jericho, not too much work got done but we all had a great time. The tracks are from a jam of song ideas, though the only song of ours is King Joe which was something we had lying around and had never recorded.

So it was David Hidalgo and Louie Perez rather than the whole of Los Lobos. This also suggests that the (Hidalgo/ Perez) credit is on the wrong track. Neither track features on their composition list at BMI. These first two tracks are widely circulated, but the other two, King Joe and Move to Japan haven't always appeared with them. Move to Japan appears in a later version on Jericho.

King Joe is one of the best outtakes I've heard, with a great role for Rick Danko, combining with the Los Lobos guys. It's hard to guess why this wasn't worked up and used.

Move to Japan is by Joe Flood, Levon Helm, John Simon, Stan Szelest and Jim Weider according to Jericho sleevenotes, and is published by The BandMusic (ASCAP). Randy Ciarlante and Jim Weider played in a group with Joe Flood just before joining the sessions for the Sony album, after playing with Levon Helm & The Woodstock All-Stars. The Woodstock All-Stars were on hold while Levon & Rick did the Ringo Starr and the All Star Band tour in 1989. Joe Flood is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

Asked what inspired Move to Japan, Danko laughs, "Well, we were joking about all this money that Sony had given us."

Interviewed by Bill Flanagan, Musician, December 1993

Danko's remark dates these sessions to after the Sony demos, but it's difficult to be sure given the jokey nature of his comment.

Levon guested on Los Lobos's 1990 album, on two tracks on The Neighborhood, Emily (Levon Helm - mandolin, vocals) and Little John of God (Levon Helm - vocal).

The 1985 Woodstock demos

The Battle Is Over was cut in one earlier version at least in a 1985 session with John Simon. John Simon points this out in his Jawbone interview with Lee Gabites:

Lee: The first session they did (after they reformed in 1983), I believe, was in 1985 and you went into the studio with them.
John: Right before Richard died.
Lee: Yeah, and Country Boy comes from that session.
John: That's correct.
Lee: What was recorded?
John: Okay, I'll reconstruct. We did Rhumba Boy by Jesse Winchester; we did The Battle Is Over (The War Goes On); I think we did She Knows, the one that's on the new Band album, High On The Hog.
Lee: That was recorded at the Lone Star Cafe in New York City.
John: It was! Okay.
Lee: I thought it might have been You Don't Know Me.
John: That's what it was, You Don't Know Me. Yeah. Right. That's what it was.
Lee: Were there no sessions after '85 and up to the Sony sessions in 1990 that you can recall?
John: That's correct, I believe.
Lee: And you weren't involved with the Sony sessions?
John: I was not.

More news on these 1985 sessions was posted on the Guestbook by Band sound engineer, Andy Robinson:

The demos were done in the fall of 1985. John Simon was recruited to produce. This predates the "Sony demos". I was asked by Simon to assemble a tape of possible selections, by the original artists. The Battle Is Over (But The War Goes On) was originally done by Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry, for example, The Frame by Terry Reid, I believe. It included everything from Deep Feeling by Chuck Berry to Woman, Love and a Man from the Port Dover tapes. Also several great cuts from Jimmy McCracklin, the great Arkansas blues man, from a fantastic album on Stax by him produced by the great drummer Al Jackson. Also Every Night, Every Day from Jimmy McCracklin who had a big hit in the late 50's called The Walk. Yes, this was before Blind Willie McTell and Atlantic City. The demos were recorded at Woodstock Recording Studio on 8 track. Trying to draw from sources of all their influences. Country Boy Richard said was by Harry Belafonte or Roy Hamilton, he wasn't sure. I finally located Roy Hamilton's version. Right after finishing the demos we played a benefit for Hospital Audiences Inc at Studio 54.

This matches up with live shows from the period, which usually included The Battle Is Over and Every Night, Every Day. Sadly these earlier demos have never surfaced. I can't find the reference, but somewhere Rick Danko has mentioned demoing Wish You Were Here Tonight with The Band, which would have been around this time. He nearly always did it on solo shows as well as with The Band in that era. It is the title track of a 1983 Ray Charles album.

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