Danko - Times Like These
Rick was one of the greatest and most soulful singers I've ever heard.
Definitely, the most original bass player I've ever heard, and one of
the kindest hearts to have ever graced this planet.’
- Robbie Robertson
There's a memorable scene in Martin Scorsese's Last Waltz when the director asks The Band's vocalist & bassist Rick Danko what he's going to do now they're gone.
Slowly the camera focuses on Danko and registers his sad, stoned reaction.
From behind the mixing desk he mumbles something about making music and keeping busy before pulling his hat over his eyes and losing himself completely in cinematic shadow. A tape rolls and after a slow picked intro his familiar voice soars. The song in question is ‘Sip The Wine’, a lovely ballad that was also included in his first solo record. A newly recorded version has been added to his last album Times Like These, now officially released in Europe by CoraZong Records.
‘All Our Past Times’ also on Times Like These is connected with The Last Waltz too, be it as part of Eric Clapton’s guest spot in The Band’s farewell party, of which the film is considered to be the best concert movie ever made. Rick Danko wrote this song together with Clapton when The Band was based at Malibu and operating from their clubhouse / studio Shangri-La. Eric put it on his No Reason To Cry album. Here Rick performs a grand vocal to a version that retains a country feel to the album. Great dobro guitar and mandolin from Jim Weider, guitar player in the 90’s line up of The Band.
Times Like These is the last
solo album Rick Danko, lead singer and bass player of The Band made.
All members of the 90’s line-up of The Band are present. Sadly
Rick passed away on December 10, 1999. ‘Experts’ are inclined
to under-appreciate Danko’s later work, opting instead for some
sepia-toned memories of the Ontario woodchopper’s son amidst his
original band colleagues in the 60’s and 70’s – but
that is only part of the story of a 40-year career. Danko’s voice,
while remaining the distinctly mournful instrument of his youth, mellowed
to equal parts milk and whiskey. Here a less urgent and wiser artist
wraps his pipes around his signature tune ‘This Wheel’s
On Fire’ (a co-write with Bob Dylan), which is drawn out on both
ends by elegant instrumental passages. This version of the song is a
fitting coda to Danko’s life, lingered over lovingly and masterfully
by the Crowmatix with Band cohort Garth Hudson, a veritable one-man
Fellini soundtrack on accordion. ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’,
a Fats Domino cover, recorded live with Levon Helm on harmonica and
longtime Danko / Band associate Professor ‘Louie’ Hurwitz
And a cover of The Grateful
Dead's "Ripple" - with Hudson and Helm once again making appearances
- is delivered with the rustic charm of a back porch session (albeit
a highly skilled one). ‘Change Is Good’ is another original
song co-written by Danko, with Rick's brother Terry Danko on bass and
Joe Walsh on guitar and piano. The song was intended for a solo album
on Elektra Records, which never saw the light of day. Sam Cooke was
one of Rick’s Big influences and those lucky enough to have seen
Danko solo shows will fondly remember him performing Cooke’s “Chain
Gang”. Garth Hudson can be heard on saxophone in the final verse.
Danko and his friend singer/songwriter Tom Pacheco wrote ‘You
Can Go Home Again’. A ballad about the refugees the world over.
Sredni Vollmer’s harmonica throughout the song is both haunting
and sublime. It is fair to say that if Rick had not passed away before
this album was finished ‘Book Faded Brown’ would probably
not have been included due tom its inclusion on The Band’s ‘best
kept secret’ Jubilation. But the track clearly meant a lot to
Rick as he had it in his pocket since 1993. This version was recorded
in Michigan for (radio show) Acoustic Café on December 6, 1999
accompanied by Professor ‘Louie’ Hurwitz.
voice was, and unbelievable still is, the watermark for an entire modern
music generation. His solo performances are the work of an American
troubadour with few peers’
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