The BAND – ” Cahoots ” 50th Anniversary Box Set

Posted: December 12, 2021 in MUSIC
The Band - Cahoots

For the 50th anniversary of CahootsThe Band has revisited the classic 1971 album with an expanded anniversary edition. Available now across streaming services and in a fully-loaded box set, the remastered album features all-new mixes overseen by guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson as well as a partial bootleg concert from Paris, France in 1971.

Coming on the heels of 50th-anniversary reissues of “Music From Big Pink”, “The Band”, and “Stage Fright“, the expanded Cahoots sees Robertson and engineer Bob Clearmountain taking a fresh look at the classic LP. As with the previous reissues, Clearmountain—under Robertson’s supervision and with his full blessing—completely reimagined the original recordings.

Their fortunes finally took a turn with album number four, though the extent of the turn is subject to debate. It’s hard to argue that 1971’s “Cahoots” is not a step down from its former releases, but those records set a very high standard. And it’s probably that standard that caused many critics to pounce on this LP.

Every member of the group continues to perform beautifully on “Cahoots“,  The atmospheric organ from Garth Hudson its first appearance here; and “4% Pantomime,” a Robbie Robertson/Van Morrison co-write that finds the latter guesting to share lead vocals. But the rest of the material falls short by varying degrees: numbers like “Smoke Signal” and “Shoot Out in Chinatown” are enjoyable, albeit insubstantial, while songs such as “The Moon Struck One” and “Volcano” seem like mere filler, though Hudson’s potent sax work partly redeems the latter.

Robbie told me, ‘Just think of the original mixes as rough mixes. Pretty much don’t pay attention to the mixes themselves,’” Clearmountain notes in the box set’s liner notes.

Also included in the “Cahoots” reissue is “Live at the Olympia Theatre, Paris, May 1971“. Recorded on The Band’s momentous 1971 European tour, the partial recording captures 11 tracks from the May 25th, 1971 show in The City of Light. The Band’s 1971 return to Europe came five years after their infamous tour of the continent with Bob Dylan as his electric backing band where they were booed every night. Fast forward five years, and The Band returned to Europe at the top of their game and the top of the charts. Live at the Olympia Theatre hosts lively takes on such classics as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Don’t Do It”, “We Can Talk”, “Chest Fever”, “Rag Mama Rag”, and more.

Cahoots” was the fourth studio album, and last album of original material for four years. The front cover painted by New York artist / illustrator Gilbert Stone Back cover features a photograph portrait of the group by Richard Avedon. Features guest vocals from Van Morrison (on “4% Pantomime”)

The surround-sound audio Blu-ray that makes it all sound much better. Listening to these, you may conclude that the strength of the performances outweighs the relative weakness of some of the material. Though The Band’s rustic recording techniques are part of what gives them a unique charm to this day, Robertson elected to bring Cahoots into the 21st century. Clearmountain created new Dolby Atmos and 5.1 stereo surround-sound mixes for each song on the album and the four bonus tracks presented in high resolution on Blu-ray, alongside the new stereo mix.

The anniversary edition adds other goodies, among them a seven-inch vinyl single; a 180-gram vinyl LP; and eight studio bonus tracks, including alternate takes of “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and “4% Pantomime” and a previously unreleased instrumental version of “Life Is a Carnival.” Other carrots include three frameable photo lithographs and a 20-page booklet with liner notes by Robertson and York University professor and musicologist Rob Bowman, who has long been associated with the group.

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