The Best of the Band
Released: August 1976
Chart Peak: #51
Weeks Charted: 14
An unsettling collection, The Best of the Band is a hollow goodbye from a group who has decided to quit performing and is never in a hurry to produce new albums. Band songs have always seemed like orphans when set apart form their home albums, and this is no exception. Even the inclusion of the previously unreleased "Twilight" doesn't help much.
- Billy Altman, Rolling Stone, 1-13-77.
- Billboard, 1976.
A well-chosen compilation of familiar Band numbers, The Best of... could however have offered longer playing time on CD. The classics, "Twilight," "Cripple Creek," "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" are included, sounding especially strong on CD mastered form though "The Night They Drove ect." is a little hissy and dry.
The two songs in common with the Big Pink album show up the compromised CD mastering applied to that disc. Vocals here soar and shine -- "The Weight" has lost some of the ponderous thump in drums while vocals are clearer and more naturally presented in both dynamics and perspective. Individual voices are now distinctively audible in the chorus. This disc captures all the contrasts and textures that the CD of Big Pink misses.
- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.
With this album, Capitol Records began the inevitable process of repackaging the music of the Band, which the company would do at increasing length without solving the fundamental problem that the Band, despite the quality of their individual songs, was not a singles act and was hard to summarize in a compilation. That said, for the real neophyte, this single-disc, 11-song album may be as good as anything. It contains the Band's two most famous songs, "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," as well as the group's only Top 30 hit, "Up On Cripple Creek," and such songs as "Tears Of Rage" and "Stage Fright" that they probably played at nearly every show they performed. It's true that if you really want to understand the Band, you have to hear all of Music From Big Pink and The Band. * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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