17 Songs, 1 Hour 19 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If there’s any group that’s overdue for a tribute, it’s The Band, who in their late 60s heyday made some of the greatest music no one listens to anymore. Just two kinds of covers make these albums succeed: left-field versions that make you hear an old song in a whole new way, and passionate homage that makes the original live and breathe all over again. Indie-roots rockers My Morning Jacket use near-identical arrangements on their heartfelt cover of “It Makes No Difference,” jam-band extraordinaire Widespread Panic summons the spirit of Garth Hudson’s brilliant organ playing on “Chest Fever,” and the Allman Brothers offer a suitably gritty, down-home “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Lee Ann Womack’s straight-ahead honky-tonk take on “The Weight” satisfies, but who could ruin a song like that? More interesting are Rosanne Cash’s passionate, plainspoken “Unfaithful Servant”; a pleasantly light-footed acoustic version of “This Wheel’s On Fire” by indie rockers Guster; and The Roches, who transform “Acadian Driftwood” into a Celtic-flavored lament, complete with pennywhistle, violin, accordion, and the sisters’ lovely folk harmonies. As for the rest — from Jack Johnson’s uber-mellow “I Shall Be Released” to Death Cab’s curiously subdued “Rockin’ Chair” — honestly, with source material this good, it’s hard not to drive the listener straight into the arms of the original songs. Of course, that might be just the point: if Endless Highway makes a single new fan for The Band, it’s done its job, and a fine one too.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If there’s any group that’s overdue for a tribute, it’s The Band, who in their late 60s heyday made some of the greatest music no one listens to anymore. Just two kinds of covers make these albums succeed: left-field versions that make you hear an old song in a whole new way, and passionate homage that makes the original live and breathe all over again. Indie-roots rockers My Morning Jacket use near-identical arrangements on their heartfelt cover of “It Makes No Difference,” jam-band extraordinaire Widespread Panic summons the spirit of Garth Hudson’s brilliant organ playing on “Chest Fever,” and the Allman Brothers offer a suitably gritty, down-home “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Lee Ann Womack’s straight-ahead honky-tonk take on “The Weight” satisfies, but who could ruin a song like that? More interesting are Rosanne Cash’s passionate, plainspoken “Unfaithful Servant”; a pleasantly light-footed acoustic version of “This Wheel’s On Fire” by indie rockers Guster; and The Roches, who transform “Acadian Driftwood” into a Celtic-flavored lament, complete with pennywhistle, violin, accordion, and the sisters’ lovely folk harmonies. As for the rest — from Jack Johnson’s uber-mellow “I Shall Be Released” to Death Cab’s curiously subdued “Rockin’ Chair” — honestly, with source material this good, it’s hard not to drive the listener straight into the arms of the original songs. Of course, that might be just the point: if Endless Highway makes a single new fan for The Band, it’s done its job, and a fine one too.

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