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Various Artists - Endless Highway - The Music Of The Band - Savoy Jazz

I know, I know... it's kind of hard to get worked up over yet another "tribute" album. What started in the 90's as a cool idea - that being contemporary bands paying homage to their musical heroes by covering songs from said heroes and then packaging it together as an album - has gotten stale and predictable. I must say that this one - Endless Highway: The Music Of The Band - is done with enough spirit and attitude to make you forget that you were tired of these things. A couple of dozen classic, timeless tunes to cover doesn't hurt, either.

The Band consisted of a group of Canadians and one genius, backwoods Arkansas drummer/vocalist (Levon Helm) who emerged from Bob Dylan's massive shadow to bridge the musical gap between history and present as good as anyone in the 60's & 70's. Their vivid lyrical imagery and remarkable songwriting skills laid the groundwork for dozens of classic American bands. Much like The Band itself, this tribute combines contributions from all over the place: The Band contemporaries like The Allman Brothers and The Roches, 80's and 90's icons like Bruce Hornsby and Blues Traveler, and some of today's best and brightest including Guster, Gomez, and My Morning Jacket.

The entire collection feels reverent yet fun. I had a recent conversation with My Morning Jacket's Jim James, who told me that meeting Levon Helm and recording "It Makes No Difference" at Helms' studio was among the most magical, cool things that MMJ has ever done. From the sound of Endless Highway: The Music Of The Band, they weren't the only ones who got a lifetime of memories by being involved in this project.

Written by Dan Reed

Release Date: January 30, 2007

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