Album Of The Week: Conquering 'Stage Fright' With The Band

  • 17 August 2018

This week we're revisiting the stellar third album from Toronto roots rock group The Band. 'Stage Fright' was released on this day in 1970 via Capitol Records, during what you might call the golden years for these musicians. It's records like these that make you think: no wonder so many artists wanted to work with them.

Image caption Stage Fright - The Band

The third studio album from The Band and the first which they self-produced, 'Stage Fright' was quite the departure from their previous releases, including their well-received self-titled album from the previous year.

None of the uplifting energy they were known for was absent from the release, but there was a certain seriousness and perhaps disillusionment in regards to the lyrical themes. In fact, it was enough to throw critics off guard completely, and it wasn't quite the critical success of their previous two albums.

However, popular songs from the record like 'The Shape I'm In' and 'Stage Fright' would go on to be huge live hits and retrospective reviews several years on have been a lot more positive, praising it as a landmark album in the band's career.

The musicianship of the album was certainly never in question. The Band started out their career as the backing band for rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins before going on to work with Bob Dylan on the legendary 'Basement Tapes'.

By the following year, in 1968, they had released their debut album 'Music from Big Pink' and christianed themselves The Band, because that was what they were always referred to as by artists. Even when they became famous in their own right, they continued to collaborate with Bob Dylan and even embarked on a joint tour in 1974.

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They've been a huge influence on a variety of contemporaries from the Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton to Led Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, Elton John and Pink Floyd.