Recorded:

November 26, 1976

Released:

April 26, 1978 *

* Date for movie. Soundtrack was released earlier that month.


Rating:


Genre:

classic rock/ Americana


Quotable:

“The greatest rock concert movie ever made – and maybe the best rock movie, period.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune


Album Tracks, Disc 1:

  1. Theme from The Last Waltz
  2. Up on Cripple Creek
  3. Who Do You Love? (with Ronnie Hawkins)
  4. Helpless (with Neil Young & Joni Mitchell)
  5. Stage Fright
  6. Coyote (with Joni Mitchell)
  7. Dry Your Eyes (with Neil Diamond)
  8. It Makes No Difference
  9. Such a Sight (with Dr. John)
  10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
  11. Mystery Train (with Paul Butterfield)
  12. Mannish Boy (with Muddy Waters)
  13. Further on Up the Road (with Eric Clapton)

Album Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. Shape I’m In
  2. Down South in New Orleans (with Bobby Charles)
  3. Ophelia
  4. Tura-Lura-Lural (That’s an Irish Lullaby) (with Van Morrison)
  5. Caravan (with Van Morrison)
  6. Life Is a Carnival
  7. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (with Bob Dylan)
  8. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (with Bob Dylan)
  9. Forever Young (with Bob Dylan)
  10. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (Reprise) (with Bob Dylan)
  11. I Shall Be Released (with ensemble)
  12. The Last Waltz Suite: The Well
  13. The Last Waltz Suite: Evangeline (with Emmylou Harris)
  14. The Last Waltz Suite: Out of the Blue
  15. The Last Waltz Suite: The Weight (with The Staple Singers)
  16. The Last Waltz Suite: The Last Waltz Refrain
  17. The Last Waltz Suite: Theme from the Last Waltz (with orchestra)

Sales (in millions):

--
--
--
--


Peak:

16
39


Singles/Hit Songs: *

  • The Weight (8/18/68) #63 US, #52 CB, #21 UK
  • Up on Cripple Creek (10/18/69) #25 US, #26 CB
  • Shape I’m In (1/2/71) –
  • Life Is a Carnival (10/16/71) #72 US, #80 CB
  • Ophelia (3/20/76) #62 US, #66 CB

* original studio versions of songs


Notes:

“For the concert’s 25th anniversary in 2002, the film was remastered and a new theatrical print was made for a limited release to promote the release of the DVD and four-CD box set of the film soundtrack.” WK In addition, a four-CD box set, produced by Robbie Robertson, remastered all the songs and included “16 previously unreleased songs from the concert, as well as takes from rehearsals. Among the additions are Louis Jordan’s ‘Caldonia’ by Muddy Waters, the concert version of ‘The Weight’, ‘Jam #1’ and ‘Jam #2’ in their entirety, and extended sets with Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.” WK


Awards:


The Last Waltz

The Band

Review:

Sparked by a boating accident which left Richard Manuel seriously injured and Robbie Robertson’s desires to stop touring, WK The Band decided in 1976 to call it quits with a farewell concert appearance. It was held on Thanksgiving Day on November 25, 1976 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. “Everything about the event was over the top” TB for “this marketing-man’s dream” TB with “a 38-piece orchestra, three teams of ballroom dancers” TB and “more than a baker’s dozen guest stars.” AMG

Director Martin Scorsese filmed the concert and made it into a documentary which also featured studio segments and interviews with the band. Released in 1978, it was “one of the first (and still one of the few) rock concert documentaries that was directed by a filmmaker who understood both the look and the sound of rock & roll, and executed with enough technical craft to capture all the nooks and crannies of a great live show.” AMG

The film is “listed among the greatest concert films. Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Wilmington calls it ‘the greatest rock concert movie ever made – and maybe the best rock movie, period.’” WKTotal Film concurs, calling it “the greatest concert film ever shot.” WK It received 36 out of 37 positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for a 97% rating. WK

“But as an album, The Last Waltz soundtrack had to compete with the Band’s earlier live album, Rock of Ages, with which it bears a certain superficial resemblance – both found the group trying to create something grander than the standard-issue live double, and both featured the group beefed up by additional musicians.” AMG Also, “Rock of Ages found the Band swinging along with the help of a horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint [and] The Last Waltz boasts a horn section (using Toussaint’s earlier arrangements on a few cuts).” AMG

“The Band are in fine if not exceptional form here; on most cuts, they don’t sound quite as fiery as they did on Rock of Ages, though their performances are never less than expert, and the high points are dazzling, especially an impassioned version of It Makes No Difference and blazing readings of Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Levon Helm has made no secret that he felt breaking up the Band was a bad idea, and here it sounds if he was determined to prove how much they still had to offer).” AMG

In the original concert, The Band performed a set and then were joined by a series of guest artists, starting with Ronnie Hawkins, whom The Band used to back. “Ultimately, it’s the Band’s ‘special guests’ who really make this set stand out.” AMG After Hawkins, “Dr. John took a seat at the piano for his signature song, Such a Night. He then switched to guitar and joined Bobby Charles on Down South in New Orleans.” WK “A blues set was next with harmonica player Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, pianist Pinetop Perkins and Eric Clapton.” WK “Waters’ ferocious version of Mannish Boy would have been a wonder from a man half his age.” AMG

“Neil Young followed, singing Helpless with backing vocals by Joni Mitchell…Mitchell came on after Young and sang three songs, two with the backing of Dr. John on congas.” WK Neil Diamond followed with Dry Your Eyes, which was from his Robbie Robertson-produced Beautiful Noise album. “Van Morrison then performed two songs, a special arrangement of Tura Lura Lural (That's an Irish Lullaby) as a duet with Richard Manuel and his own show-stopper, CaravanWK on which he “sounds positively joyous.” WK

“Canadians Young and Mitchell were then invited back out to help The Band perform Acadian Driftwood, an ode to the Acadians of Canadian history. The Band then performed a short set of some more of its songs before Bob Dylan came on stage to lead his former backing band through four songs” WK which find “him in admirably loose and rollicking form.” AMG “The Band and all its guests, with the addition of Ringo Starr on drums and Ronnie Wood on guitar, then sang I Shall Be Released as a closing number.” WK

In the original concert, two jam sessions followed and then The Band came out for a final encore of Marvin Gaye’s Don’t Do It at around 2:15 a.m. It was the last time the group’s classic lineup performed together. WK

Some songs didn’t make the film, but were on the soundtrack, such as “Down South in New Orleans,” “Tura Lura Lural (That's an Irish Lullaby)”, “Life is a Carnival” by The Band, and “I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” by Bob Dylan. WK

For the album, “the closing studio-recorded Last Waltz Suite sounds like padding, [but] the contributions from Emmylou Harris and the Staple Singers are beautiful indeed. It could be argued that you’re better off watching The Last Waltz on video than listening to it on CD, but either way it's a show well worth checking out.” AMG It “remains a landmark not just for its consistently superb music but for…brilliantly manipulative marketing. Sold on the back of one event, we got the triple album, the movie, the home video, the double-CD reissue, the DVD, and the boxset-set four-CD reissue.” TB


Review Source(s):

  • AMG All Music Guide review by Mark Deming
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London.
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 197.
  • WK Wikipedia

Related DMDB Link(s):


Up on Cripple Creek


The Weight


The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down


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Last updated April 26, 2012.