The Band to Release ‘Big Pink’ 50th Anniv. Box Set

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On August 31, Capitol/UMe will release The Band’s Music from Big Pink in newly remixed and expanded 50th Anniversary Edition packages, including a Super Deluxe CD/Blu-ray/2-LP/7-inch vinyl box set with a hardbound book; 1-CD, digital, 180-gram 2-LP black vinyl, and limited edition 180-gram 2-LP pink vinyl packages. All of the Anniversary Edition configurations feature a new stereo mix for the album, produced by Bob Clearmountain from the original four-track analog masters. The 50th Anniversary Edition’s CD, digital and boxed set configurations also include five outtakes and alternate recordings from the ‘Big Pink’ sessions and a previously unreleased a cappella version of “I Shall Be Released.”

According to a June 29 press release, “Music from Big Pink seemed to spring from nowhere and everywhere. Drawing from the American roots music panoply of country, blues, R&B, gospel, soul, rockabilly, the honking tenor sax tradition, hymns, funeral dirges, brass band music, folk and rock ‘n’ roll, the Band forged a timeless new style that forever changed the course of popular music. Fifty years later, the mythology surrounding Music from Big Pink lives on through the evocative storytelling of its songs including The Weight,’ ‘This Wheel’s On Fire,’ ‘Tears of Rage’ and ‘To Kingdom Come,’ its enigmatic cover art painted by Bob Dylan, the salmon-colored upstate New York house—‘Big Pink’—where the Band wrote the songs, and in myriad descendant legends carried forth since the album’s stunning arrival.”

Related: Read our in-depth Album Rewind feature on Big Pink

The Band, Music From Big Pink album photograph, Woodstock NY, 1968. Photo © Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc.

Exclusively for the boxed set, Clearmountain has also produced a new 5.1 surround mix for the album and the bonus tracks, presented on Blu-ray with the new stereo mix in high-resolution audio (96kHz/24bit). All the new audio mixes have been mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering. The boxed set also includes an exclusive reproduction of the Band’s 1968 7-inch vinyl single for “The Weight”/“I Shall Be Released” in their new stereo mixes and a hardbound book with a new essay by noted music journalist David Fricke and classic photos by Elliott Landy.

Related: Our interview with Landy about the Band

For the album’s new vinyl editions, Chris Bellman cut the vinyl lacquers for the album’s new stereo mix at 45rpm at Bernie Grundman Mastering, expanding the album’s vinyl footprint from one LP to two. The black and pink vinyl LPs were pressed at GZ Vinyl/Precision.

Starting today, the new stereo mix of “The Weight” is available for streaming and for immediate download with digital album preorder.

Watch a brief trailer video for Music from Big Pink (50th Anniversary Edition):

Music from Big Pink (50th Anniversary Edition)

CD; Digital
2018 stereo mix (included in the box set and available individually)
1. Tears Of Rage
2. To Kingdom Come
3. In A Station
4. Caledonia Mission
5. The Weight
6. We Can Talk
7. Long Black Veil
8. Chest Fever
9. Lonesome Suzie
10. This Wheel’s On Fire
11. I Shall Be Released
Bonus Tracks:
12. Yazoo Street Scandal (Outtake)
13. Tears Of Rage (Alternate Take)
14. Long Distance Operator (Outtake)
15. Lonesome Suzie (Alternate Take)
16. Key To The Highway (Outtake)
17. I Shall Be Released (A Cappella)

Blu-ray
Tracklist above in new 5.1 surround mix + 96kHz/24bit high resolution stereo (exclusive to the box set)

Before naming themselves The Band, the group’s members shared an extensive collaborative history. Between 1960 and 1962, then-teenaged multi-instrumentalists Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin), Robbie Robertson (guitar, piano, vocals), Rick Danko (bass, vocals, fiddle), Richard Manuel (keyboards, vocals, drums), and Garth Hudson (keyboards, horns) first performed and recorded together as members of Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band, the Hawks. In late 1963, the Hawks struck out on their own and became Levon & the Hawks, playing and recording under this name in 1964 and 1965.

In 1965, Robertson met with Bob Dylan in New York, just as Dylan was seeking an electric guitarist for his touring band. All the former Hawks backed Dylan on the road from October 1965 through 1966 as he incensed audiences in the U.S., Australia and Europe, performing electric sets. Disheartened by the vocally disdainful “folkie purist” audience response to their first plugged-in performances with Dylan, Helm left the group in November 1965.

After the 1966 tour concluded, Robertson, Danko, Manuel, and Hudson woodshedded for the next year at the ‘Big Pink’ house in West Saugerties, New York, often in the company of Dylan, who lived in nearby Woodstock. Helm re-joined them in October 1967 and The Band was born, as the group wrote new music and prepared to record their first full-length album.

In his 1993 memoir, titled This Wheel’s On Fire, Helm wrote, “We wanted Music from Big Pink to sound like nothing anyone else was doing. This was our music, honed in isolation from the radio and contemporary trends.”

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