Released: September 1971
Chart Peak: #21
Weeks Charted: 14
What can you say about The Band except that they release too few albums? The Band albums seem to follow a strange pattern: their first, Music From Big Pink, was only mediocre; their second, The Band, was brilliant. Stagefright was disappointing, and their new one, Cahoots, brilliant again. Judging from this pattern, their next one should be inferior.
Cahoots has taken The Band a long time to record, and it shows. Each and every selection on the album is perfect in every respect. Gentle, soothing Band music -- from beginning to end. Don't make the mistake of thinking that their music is by any means simple. The Band use some of the most intricate and most effective chord patterns imaginable. Their changes are so strong (yet subtle) that they can actually be felt, even by those who know very little of musical techniques.
An excellent example of these changes occurs in "Where Do We Go From Here," possibly the strongest cut on the LP -- that is if one could actually choose the strongest cut! More powerful chord changes flow by in "The Moon Struck One" between the verses and the bridge, listen carefully and you'll be able to not only hear them, but nearly touch them as well.
As an extra added attraction, Warner Brothers recording artist Van Morrison appears on "4% Pantomime," a tune he co-wrote with The Band's Robbie Robertson. The vocal interplay on that selection must be heard to be believed. There has always been a similarity in vocal styles between The Band and Van Morrison, and "Pantomime" confirms that connection.
Those who have only been listening to The Band's music and not to their lyrics -- take heed. You're missing an awful lot if you disregard them. They too are brilliant. Sometimes a bit abstract, but brilliant nonetheless.
Cahoots is a carefully planned excursion through the minds and hearts of America's finest group. And if you still have any doubts as to whether they are, in fact, America's finest -- just listen to the album. It speaks for itself!
- Circus, 1/72.
Maybe no other rock group is so widely revered and often imitated as the Band. But they carry on paying no attention to anybody, sounding always the same and always different. "Life Is a Carnival" is the first single from this LP.
- Billboard, 1972.
Whew, these fellows can really play. They cook on "Smoke Signal," and you should hear the guitar solo on "Last of the Blacksmiths." Seem overy worried about the passing of the world as they know it, though -- not just blacksmiths, but eagles, rivers, trains, the works. B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Cahoots was the first album recorded at Albert Grossman's Bearsville Studios in Woodstock. The sessions were difficult, as the studio was still having the bugs worked out and the Band was experiencing internal problems. Robertson's songs had become much more difficult; the structures, chord changes, and arrangements were increasingly complex. Despite these factors, the album has a number of gems, including "Life Is a Carnival" with its great Allen Toussaint horn arrangement, Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece," a duet between Richard Manuel and Van Morrison entitled "4% Pantomime," "The River Hymn," and "Where Do We Go from Here?" * *
- Rob Bowman, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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