Live 1970 (BA70-001A/B)
In 1969 The Band were solidifying their reputation both as a powerful live force with appearances at Woodstock and the Isle Of Wight, and as composers with the September release of the now classic The Band.
The following year netted them even more high praise and publicity with featured articles in Rolling Stone and the cover of Time magazine on January 12th, 1970 where they were called the “new sound of country rock.”
Live 1970 contains two live audience recordings from this pivotal year for the band. One dates from the first day of the year and the second from their summer tour and after their third LP Stage Fright was already recorded and mixed, but not yet released.
Comparing the two documents is interesting in hearing them progress and reach one of their heights in live performance. One of the tapes has been released many times before on both vinyl and CD, but the other tape makes its bootleg debut.
The sound quality for both tapes is very good to excellent. The label pressed this to commemorate the life and recent passing of Levon Helm. It also serves as a worthy sequel to Live 1969, released last December and proving to be a surprisingly popular title.
Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA – July 10th, 1970
Disc 1 (67:28): The Shape I’m In, Look Out Cleveland, The Weight, King Harvest, Unfaithful Servant, Jemima Surrender, Rockin’ Chair, Time To Kill, Genetic Method / Chest Fever, The Night They Drove Dixie Down, Across the Great Divide, Up On Cripple Creek, Strawberry Wine, I Shall Be Released, This Wheel’s On Fire, Don’t Do It
The Band’s July 10th, 1970 show at the Hollywood Bowl is a very good to almost excellent mono audience recording which emphasizes the top frequencies. The bass is pushed into the mix and the drums sound a bit flat, but the other guitars, organ and horns are very sharp.
it was pressed soon after the event on the 2LP The Band Live at the Hollywood Bowl and copied on The Best of the Band / Jethro Tull in Concert (IC Records CBMR-9) and Live in California #2 (Band Records/Rubber Records 34-A/B 35-A/B). Since the master tapes have been lost, the CD titles Live at the Hollywood Bowl 1970 (Gold Standard 195-TB-16-07) and Real Old Time both are copies of the 2LP set.
Live 1970 is another needle drop from the vinyl, but unlike previous releases they use what sounds like a virgin copy. Utilizing the best turntable, it is an absolutely pristine transfer with only a few very faintly audible surface noises during “Jemima Surrender,”
Miles Davis opened for The Band who had recently finished mixing their third LP Stage Fright. It wouldn’t be released to the public for another month, but the band were confident enough in the new material to play three songs including the opening number “The Shape I’m In.”
The new stage thumper kicks off a string of energetic songs including a moving version of “The Weight” and the spook of “King Harvest.” Only with “Unfaithful Servant” is there any sort of break. Rick Danko gives one of his best vocal performances in this contemplative tune.
After “Jemima Surrender,” they play “Rockin’ Chair” from The Band. The laid back feel, the tight harmonies and Robbie Robertson’s wandering guitar sum up all that is great about the band and they follow with the second new song of the night “Time To Kill.”
Garth Hudson has his spot for “Genetic Method” leading into “Chest Fever.” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” segues directly into “Across The Great Divide.” The show closes with their two Bob Dylan covers “I Shall Be Released” and “This Wheel’s In Fire.” For the only encore they play “Don’t Do It.”
Colden Auditorium, Queens College, Flushing, NY – January 1st, 1970
Disc 2 (54:13): Jemima Surrender, Caledonia Mission, Rockin’ Chair, Genetic Method / Chest Fever, The Unfaithful Servant, The Weight, King Harvest, I Shall Be Released, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, The Night They Drove Dixie Down, Across the Great Divide, This Wheel’s On Fire, Up On Cripple Creek, encore, Don’t Do It
The second disc documents the New York show on New Year’s Day 1970. It is a very good audience tape with a bit of distance from the stage. It’s not as clear as the Hollywood Bowl tape, but is just as enjoyable. And like the other, it is cut between each of the songs and has an cut 1:30 in “Rockin’ Chair.”
Colden Auditorium is a 2,000 capacity venue located on the campus of Queens College in Flushing, New York. Built in 1961, it mainly serves as a venue for classical music but they also book pop and rock acts (Procol Harum, The Kinks and Trapeze also played there).
The band were still touring off of The Band, released just a couple months before this show. And the set has a healthy mix of songs from their first two albums starting with “Jemima Surrender” from The Band followed by “Caledonia Mission” from the debut album Music From Big Pink.
In the middle of the show they play a really good “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.” The catchy and melodramatic melody fits very well between the sadness of “I Shall Be Released” and the anger in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
The set ends with “Up On Cripple Creek” and the only encore is “Don’t Do It,” the same one as in the Hollywood Bowl show. It’s a very nice show pressed for the first time on silver and is worth having.
Live 1970 is packaged in a slimline jewel case with photos taken from their European tour in 1971. The same wood tone with sepia tint found on the previous Band set is also used on this. It’s good to see a label show respect for one of the best bands to have played in the sixties and seventies. Hopefully, with the success of this release, they will follow with more Live titles.