Levon Helm

Souvenir, Vol. 1

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This album is a mixture of live material from 1996 and 1997 and tracks recorded at Levon Helm's home studio. Talented band the Crowmatix is a salty group of Woodstock musicians, including longtime Band collaborator and producer Professor "Louie" (aka Aaron Hurwitz), Band drummer (throughout the '80s and '90s) Randy Ciarlante, Marie Spinosa, Jimmy Eppard, and Mike Dunn. The Band's Garth Hudson also makes an appearance, playing horns on "That's Alright," while longtime Band guitarist Jim Weider contributes slide to "Poor Little Fool." As the previous song titles suggest, this is a very bluesy affair, mostly devoid of the more folky and country elements of the Band. Helm called the album Souvenir because he saw it as just that, a souvenir for the fans rather than a focused, major-label effort. And the album should be appreciated in the spirit in which it was created. That having been said, anyone who has been moved by the long legacy of the Band will be delighted to hear Levon in fine throat backed by first-class musicians. Highlights include live versions of Bob Dylan's "Don't Ya Tell Henry," "Milk Cow Boogie," and the Band staple "Rag Mama Rag." These tracks capture one of the finest bar bands on the planet. All establishments should be so fortunate.

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