An American musical treasure, Levon Helm passed away peacefully at the age of 71 a few days ago. He was best known as the main singer & drummer of The Band. His deep southern soulful voice & funky drumming was the centerpiece of their American roots music gumbo sound. I had the good fortune of seeing Levon play live with his dirt farmer revue a couple years ago & his singing & drumming was as soulful & in the pocket as could be. My father Fred Tackett ( a big Levon fan) who happened to sit in with him at a show two weeks ago related that Levon’s last words to him while walking off stage were “It doesn’t get any better than this”.
Fitting for record store day, here we have the laid back swamp funk & down home story of “Up on Cripple Creek” from the Band’s first 1969 self titled lp featuring Levon’s voice & back beat which incidentally was sampled by Dj Premier on Gangstarr’s “Beyond Comprehension”.
Here’s the early pre Band Rhythm & blues of Levon & the Hawk’s “He don’t love you & he’ll break your heart” from 1965 written by a very young Robbie Robertson & featuring fellow band mate Richard Manuel on the vocals.
Just for the funk of it here’s Aretha’s lowdown version of the Band classic “The Weight” which Levon originally sang back in 1969. ooooh wee!