A new five-disc collection capturing The Band at the height of its live powers is scheduled to be released on September 17. Live at the Academy of Music 1971 is a four-CD/one-DVD package featuring performances from four New York City concerts that the influential Americana group played during the last week of 1971. Highlights from the same shows were culled for the popular two-LP set Rock of Ages, which reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in 1972.
Live at the Academy of Music 1971, which was co-produced by Band guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson, features new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes of the performances, as well as 19 previously unreleased tracks. Among the many memorable Band tunes featured on the collection are "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Chest Fever." Also included are four songs the group performed with special guest Bob Dylan during the encore of the December 31, 1971, concert: "Down in the Flood," "When I Paint My Masterpiece," "Don't Ya Tell Henry" and "Like a Rolling Stone."
The first two CDs of the package offer various songs played during all four nights of The Band's Academy of Music engagement, while discs three and four contain a soundboard mix of the entire New Year's Eve show. The DVD, meanwhile, features 5.1 surround sound mixes of all tracks from disc one and two, as well as newly discovered video footage of The Band performing "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" and "The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show."
Live at the Academy of Music 1971 comes with a 48-page hardcover book boasting rare photos, an essay by Robertson, a facsimile of Rolling Stone magazine's original Rock of Ages review, and more.
Recalling the decision to record the 1971 gigs, Robertson says, "We were in a huddle of playing music, enjoying what we were doing, and I had a feeling, 'We should capture this.' To end 1971 with these shows felt, for all of us, like the right thing to do. This is a fulfillment of that extraordinary musical experience that I feel great about sharing."
A separate double-CD version of Live at the Academy of Music featuring the first two discs also will be released on September 17.
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