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Cahoots – The Band


(1971), 7.5/10
The Band’s fourth album showed them expanding their sound somewhat, a welcome change after the homogeneous Stage Fright. Cahoots is often categorised as a step down from its predecessors, but I find it at least as compelling as 1970’s Stage Fright. Arguably the tunes are weaker, but the introspective lyrics from Robbie Robertson and the more varied arrangements make it an interesting album. Van Morrison duets with Richard Manuel on ‘4% Pantomine’, while Allen Toussaint arranged the horns on the opening ‘Life Is A Carnival’.

Cahoots starts with two of its most accessible songs – ‘Life Is A Carnival’ is invigorating, with Levon Helm and Rick Danko sharing vocals, while ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’ is the first Bob Dylan cover from The Band since Music From Big Pink. Elsewhere, Cahoots is characterised by Robertson’s lyrics that lament a changing society on songs like ‘Last of the Blacksmiths’ and ‘Where Do We Go From Here’; “Did you hear about the railroad going under/How it seems its days are numbered on the board.” The second side of Cahoots is weaker, but still boasts the contemplative ‘The Moon Struck One’ and the urgent ‘Smoke Signal’.

The Band wouldn’t release another studio album of original material for another four years, but Cahoots is a serviceable, under-rated effort that’s worth hearing.

8 thoughts on “Cahoots – The Band Leave a comment

  1. Just the opening of ‘Carnival’ you know you’re in for a good ride. Great piece of music. Toussaint’s horn arrangements are perfect. CB used to work on the railroad so that lyric you picked is perfect. Dig the Van/Richard duet. Love the “Belfast Cowboy” bit. You could tell Morrison liked working with these guys. Another album with lots of good music on it. Posts like this keep me coming back.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Their music moves me in so many ways. These guys were and are special in my musical world. “Overlooked” would be a perfect word to attach to this album and this band. Because I like them so much I assume others know them. In my travels that’s not the case. I have no idea how old you are but i assume younger than CB. So it is so cool that you have embraced these guys.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m in my late thirties. I feel like they’re reasonably well known – people know about The Last Waltz, and the first two albums – but their other work is in danger of being forgotten. The Last Waltz movie is a big asset to their legacy – feels like most fans of 1970s’ roots-based rock will come round to it at some point. I’ve watched it with friends and with my wife, and they all enjoyed it (except Neil Diamond).

          Liked by 1 person

        • Like I said that is really cool. You have to remember you are a music fan and have a pretty open mind so you would be on top of the influences The Band would have on some of the people you dig. My youngest son likes them and came to them through artists he likes plus he heard them a lot in our house.
          ‘The Last Waltz’ is a double dip for me. Scorsese film and The Band. I have probably watched that more than any other movie. I could even live with the ND appearance. My wife likes him. I think he was a bone of contention between Robbie and Levon. One last thing. Have you listened to ‘Rock Of Ages’? I love that record. Hey it’s always good trading dialogue with you.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Watching The Last Waltz inspired the formation of The Hold Steady. But otherwise, more recent bands I can think of that are influenced by The Band are things like Counting Crows.

          Never seen Rock of Ages – I’ve heard it’s good, and it would probably be my next port of call with The Band.

          Liked by 1 person

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