The Last Waltz [DVD] review by The Band

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  • Released: May 7, 2002
  • Sound: 10
  • Content: 10
  • Production Quality: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (13 votes)
The Band: The Last Waltz [DVD]

Sound — 10
The Last Waltz was filmed in 1976 and released in 1978 as a documentary, or more often referred to as a "Rockumentary". Directed by Martin Scorsese, it catalogs the farewell concert for The Band, and is often considered one of the best rock films of all time. The Band is a Canadian-American group that began as a backing band for Ronnie Hawkins and later Bob Dylan, eventually releasing their own music to a wide audience. The Last Waltz is a finale to 16 years of touring. The sound on The Last Waltz is excellent, especially considering that it was filmed in the late 1970s. Although many members of The Band are multi-instrumentalists, for the most part they each stuck with their primary instrument through the concert. The band members and their instruments are: Robbie Robertson - guitar, vocals; Rick Danko - bass, vocals; Levon Helm - drums, vocals; Richard Manuel - keyboards, vocals, drums; Garth Hudson - keyboards, saxophone. The music on this DVD encompasses many varieties of music, showing just how diverse The Band was. Their songs range from blues and country, early rock and roll to even a little bit of funk.

Content — 10
Aside from the obvious main attraction of this DVD, it also includes numerous special guests that perform with The Band. Most of the guests are artists that have either performed with The Band previously, or are cited as one of their major influences. Special guests include (but are not limited to): Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Muddy Waters, The Staples, Ringo Starr, Ron Wood, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield and Ronnie Hawkins. In addition to the live music, there are also several interviews with The Band while in the studio. They talk about what it was like before they made it big, and how some of the other artists of the time influenced their music. The song list is as follows: 01. Don't Do It 02. Up On Cripple Creek 03. The Shape I'm In 04. Who Do You Love (Ronnie Hawkins) 05. It Makes No Difference 06. Such A Night (Dr. John) 07. Helpless (Neil Young) 08. Stagefright 09. The Weight (The Staples) 10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" 11. Dry Your Eyes (Neil Diamond) 12. Coyote (Joni Mitchell) 13. Mystery Train (Paul Butterfield) 14. Mannish Boy (Muddy Waters) 15. Further On Up The Road (Eric Clapton) 16. Sip The Wine 17. Evangeline (Emmylou Harris) 18. Genetic Method 19. Ophelia 20. Caravan (Van Morrison) 21. Forever Young (Bob Dylan) 22. Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Bob Dylan) 23. I Shall Be Released ("Everybody" & Ringo Starr & Ron Wood) 24. Theme From The Last Waltz The DVD also includes audio commentary from the director and the musicians, as well as a behind the scenes feature.

Production Quality — 9
The quality of this DVD is typical of Martin Scorsese, wonderful. Every detail was accounted for, and aside from the limitations of when it was originally produced, few flaws can be found with the production. Do know, however, that the camera work is very simplistic in nature. Special photography and camera work is not necessarily used, it is simple a live concert film.

Overall Impression — 10
As far as live concert DVDs go, this is simply one of the best. Not only does it include many of The Band's greatest hits, but it has covers from some of the best artists of the time. The best thing about this DVD are the special guests. Just as you start to get comfortable with a set of music, a new guest comes out and changes everything. The versatility of The Band is amazing, and is apparent throughout the entire film. If you enjoy The Band's music as well as the music of the special guests, this DVD is definitely for you. It clocks in at just under 2 hours of almost continuous live music, so you definitely get your money's worth with this DVD.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    best film ever. I still watch it every week. The version of Dixie here is insane. The only things I dislike are Neil Diamonds part and the fact that you can't skip the interviews on the dvd, which I must have seen 100+ times.
    hearing Levon belt out Dixie on this film always sends chills down my spine. Van Morrison steals the show by far. Neil Diamond wasn't bad, but Joni Mitchell could have been omitted...