Donnie Nossov: The End Is Finally Here (No Depression / 2018)

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"The End!' Well, it started as kind of a joke - the project was taking soooo long, I thought it was going to kill me!  It's called 'The End' - as if this is going to be the last thing I ever do! Of course, the alternate meaning of that name is that 'The End' represents a goal..."  Donnie Nossov 

You don't meet many humble folks in the music business however Donnie Nossov is that rare exception.

Though the name may not resonate with individuals outside the recording industry, his work as a side-man and session bassist is legend: Cher, Pat Benatar, John Waite, Lita Ford, and Genya Ravan, to reference an extremely select few. I hereby put forth the declaration that in the past forty years and counting - Donnie Nossov's bass is being heard nonstop somewhere, anywhere on internet and broadcast radio, streaming services, via various formats including vinyl, CD, cassette and 8-track; on bandstands, and DJ turntables.

Some dude wearing a Hawaiian shirt is playing Donnie's basslines in a classic Top 40 band right now. Another cat with a backwards oversized Ed Hardy baseball cap is sampling Donnie for the dancefloor. Tuxedoed pros on the wedding, Bar Mitzvah, corporate event circuits render Donnie Nossov basslines every day and every night amid Kosher chicken-fingers and horseradish.

And that's not counting his work on film and television soundtracks as a composer and performer.  If there is ever a time when Donnie Nossov's bass playing is not being heard or replicated; life as we know it on planet Earth no longer exists. Scratch that, even after humanity is destroyed - and we're getting close - whatever life form exists will find a copy of The Graces' Perfect View and dig Donnie's bass parts.    

At present Mr. Nossov is the composer/ producer / bassist / multi-instrumentalist / and occasional lead vocal mastermind behind The End and their remarkable debut - Imaginary Life. "It wasn't intentional, I didn't say it's time for me to make my own record - let me write all these songs…" laughs Donnie from his Los Angeles home. "I'd been writing songs for a long time - and I'd be recording them as I go." 

Experience counts for everything in Imaginary Life. "I’ve worked with great people in my career, but it was also my coming of age period where I was steeped in all the great bands and writers of the 1960s and 70s - from Brit rock, American folk rock, blues - those influences permeate everything I do."

Waxed at his home studio and various locales at his own deliberate pace, Nossov enlisted vocalist extraordinaire Gia Ciambotti to carry The End to the finish line. 

"One evening my wife Nancy and I were just sitting around and she asked me ‘why don't you play me some of the songs you recorded?'  I played her five or six songs in a row and she said 'you know, why don't you make this into an album!' It was kind of a cross between 'what are you f'n crazy - and a light bulb moment! I thought, ‘yeah well they do kind of fit together…so then I started to listen to them in that context…and I came to the realization that 'yeah I can do this."   

Classic rock fans will dig the diversity of Imaginary Life - which, in the classic rock era, was the way things were done. Every track is unique with regard to tempo, feel, and execution, however it all hangs together perfectly. The acoustic and electric guitars meld ala Petty / Campbell, the melodies soar, the song-craft is timeless, and the rhythm section swings. And it’s a song-cycle that won’t ever sound dated as long as there is an audience for human musicians playing “real” instruments. Scratch that again, even if you remake these songs on computers, the hooks will still shine through the bleeps and boinks. Note to Beyonce, Taylor, Rihanna, Madge, Nicki – call Donnie Nossov! 

And Imaginary Life is no mere collection of tracks. Playlists be damned! Nossov’s all-important album track running order takes the listener on a journey. Tight cuts, no filler. The band and the album have a unique character – much like the artists Donnie has anchored. The End sounds like… The End!    

"The process started out with me and a basic musical idea; and building a track from the ground up. I would get a basic drum feel, throw on acoustic guitars, add bass and get it to 'feel right' - and then call Gia as early as possible so I could really hear the song! Largely I asked the other musicians 'what do you hear?’ Unless I had a really specific idea, I trusted them!"  

Soulful and sensual, among Gia’s most riveting performance appears on the opening track. Notes Nossov “she came in to do the vocal on ‘Like A Drug’ and seemed distracted.  She nailed the vocal and told me she felt like she was coming down with something.  She later told me that she had bronchitis.  She was able to not think about it and connect with the song.  I think it may be the most emotional vocal on the record, for a 40 second bit!”

For the record, pun intended, Nossov's extended posse aka “The End” is quite impressive: co-writers Lorraine Feather (acclaimed jazz writer and artist), Eddie Arkin, Chrissy Shefts, Laura B.,  Mark Aaron, Julia Goode, Risa Duff, and Gia; guitarists Gary Myrick, Storey Scheinberg, Ritchie Fliegler (“the only guitar player to have played with both Lou Reed and John Cale”), Brian Ray (Paul McCartney’s touring band), Marc Daine Dannenhirsch; keyboardists Michael Skloff, Daniel Crawford; and percussionists Dame Crawford, Rudy Richman.

Nossov would like to bring a touring version of The End onstage in select cities, however, at the moment, plans are up in the air.     

And in an age wherein most album art affords the impression of a mass transit ad, Nossov brings back depth to the format: "that's a photograph I took in a hotel room in Paris about five years ago. I was searching for a cover when I decided to call it Imaginary Life. There's a certain loneliness to it. If you look at the chair, it appears as if someone sat in it! But they're not there anymore…there's an imaginary person - and I had the ends flipped on the graphics just because I liked the way it looked."

Even the self-producer's chair suited Donnie Nossov quite well.  He boasts "I never had any arguments with my client!"

Imaginary Life by The End is out now and available here:

Bandcamp: https://theend4.bandcamp.com

Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/album/7FN6xEbwKJq376HRXZBLKp

iTunes:  https://apple.co/2MIJvbS

Apple Music: https://apple.co/2LgHbnT

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2MplnvU

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GC2TCBF

Deezer:  https://www.deezer.com/us/album/70435312

Napster: https://us.napster.com/artist/the-end-pop/album/imaginary-life

Tidal: https://tidal.com/browse/album/93397671

Facebook:  https://facebook.com/ImaginaryLife1

Photograph of Donnie Nossov and Gia Ciambotti by Christopher O’Brocto.

Coda: And on the topic of bass player royalty, Gia’s late father is another icon of the instrument: you’ve heard John Ciambotti on Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, as the bassist in celebrated Bay Area 70s ensemble Clover, and on slabs by John Prine, Nick Lowe, Norton Buffalo, Carlene Carter, and Jim Lauderdale, to cite a few.

Joe Dart

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Joe Dart darts up and down the fretboard with flawless fluidity in the service of fun funksters Vulfpeck – who prove that bands can actually reach the masses in the post album era. Inspired by Michael Peter Balzary, EWF’s Verdine White, Francis Rocco Prestia, and the immortal Jaco – Dart, with his treble tone dominating, is a dexterous player whose passages quote Motown / Philly soul classics whilst pushing a harmonic and rhythmic envelope or two. In fact all the ‘pecks are clever instrumentalists- and they support each and their frequent guest collaborators with old-school expertise.

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Samuel Kiszka

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Bollocks to all ye naysayers! Head-up-their-arse geezer rockers (yes, you!) and indie snobs (are there any other kind?) incessantly grumble over Greta Van Fleet’s hearty homage to their influences however amnesia sets in with regard to the obvious factoid that the omnipotent Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Sonic Youth, Oasis, and Led “We Can Afford the Best Lawyers” Zeppelin – all pilfered heavily from those that came before them.  Refer to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Velvet Underground, Stooges, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly among others who wuz robbed, and in Page / Plant’s case: their contemporaries Spirit, and Moby Grape. Akin to his mentor, the former John Baldwin, bassist / keyboardist Samuel Kiszka is a fluid, soulful player who serves the almighty song. Nice to see a bona fide rock band piss folks off in the 21st Century. Long may they infuriate and inspire a new generation. Note to Robbie Williams, play “Highway Tune” loud enough for your neighbor to hear!      

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John Illsley

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Bassist, pub-owner, singer, painter, band member, solo recording artist, TV presenter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist John Edward Illsley anchored Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ensemble Dire Straits for the entirety of their extraordinary career which spanned 1977 to 1995. Given the presence of world class guitarist, songwriter Mark Knopfler, Illsley deftly worked the pocket with a trad tone in support of his bandleader – and they managed to sell over 100 million albums.    

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Joe Iaquinto “A Tale of Two Basses”

I have owned countless electric basses in the 48 years that I've been playing, which is weird, since I'm only 25 😐. 

When I left New York City in 1978, I sold all but one bass: a 1966 Fender Precision Bass that I bought from Manny's Music, which is where I was working.


Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender….

Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender….

The bass was white that had become yellowed over the twelve years it was around, and it had a rosewood board and a beautiful tortoiseshell pick guard. Being the knucklehead I was, I stripped the paint off of it (lighter fluid, matches, and a scraper, and I caught my drapes on fire. Knucklehead). I was a huge Peter Cetera fan so I wanted my bass to look like his, which was natural with a maple neck. One of the guys I worked with at Manny's happened to be selling an early-70's maple Fender P-Bass neck so I bought it and installed it on my bass. Voila! It looked great and sounded even better than it did before. That was the bass I moved to L.A. with. It was my only bass until I bought a back-up at the end of 1978. At that time, I was the bass player in a magnificent original band called "Hit N Run." We were right there at the flash point of the whole "New Wave" scene in L.A., playing all the iconic clubs in town. We were mainstays at Madame Wong's, The Starwood, The Whiskey (BEFORE they made you pay to play!), The Troubadour, The Roxy, and many more. We were always doing gigs with bands like the Bus Boys, The Motels, 20/20, The Pop, and a lot of other L.A. greats.

After my Fender started having issues at one of our gigs, I knew I needed a back-up bass so I went to a music store in Santa Monica and fell in love with a bass made by a company called S.D. Curlee. I had never heard of them but out of all the basses I tried, it was the winner. The bass looked like a cross between my old Gibson EB-3 and my Fender, and it had a medium-scale neck, which was very comfortable and easy to play. I bought the bass and it immediately became my go-to, leaving the Fender as the back-up.

Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980

Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980

I did a lot of gigs and recording sessions with that bass and it rocked! Right around this time a friend of mine had gotten into a car accident and her bass, a Music Man Sabre, was destroyed. She was playing with a couple of very cool bands and needed an instrument, so I sold her my Fender, which I had painted red, sanded back to natural, swapped out the original pickup for a DiMarzio, added a Jazz Bass pickup to, and then removed that pickup and filled the hole with wood putty. Being an old Fender, it still sounded great and was unbeatable.

I sold her the bass for next to nothing because she was my drummer's girlfriend and she was a wonderful person and a fantastic bass player. Her name was Mickey Steele. She wound up becoming the bassist for the Bangles, where she used the name "Michael Steele," and I was blown away to see her using that Fender, with its wood putty scar and everything, in the band's first MTV video!

Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender

Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender

She even used it for the Bangles reunion concert years later! So there I was, with my S.D. Curlee and my new back-up bass, a modified Gibson G-3 (which we don't need to talk about). Long story short, I sold the S.D. Curlee to my friend, Franklin Odel and he used it in his studio and that was that.

The Fender got famous with the Bangles and the Curlee had a new home. Life happened, years passed, etc., etc. Fast forward to today, February 3rd, 2019. I see a post from the daughter of the lead singer of Hit N Run, whose name is Linda Stevens. Her daughter, Molly Tentarelli, who is a phenomenally talented singer-songwriter, is sitting and playing an S.D. Curlee bass which looks exactly like the one I had. After several back-and-forth posts, I find out that it is, in fact, my old S.D. Curlee Bass. Linda got it from Franklin and now Molly has it. Me = Mind Blown!!! After four decades, it does my heart and soul good to know that this beautiful bass that was an important part of my life and that I made so much great music with, is alive and well and in the family, so to speak.

Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Thank you, Franklin Odel, Linda Stevens, and Molly Tentarelli for making my day. My face hurts from smiling so much. And everyone needs to check out Molly Tentarelli on Facebook and make sure you buy her music, which is fantastic! ✌️❤️ 


Pictured: Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender, Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender, Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980, Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Jorge Casas

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A producer, arranger,  composer and contemporary of mine at the University of Miami, where to begin with Jorge Casas? A true giant of the instrument, he was among the most versatile players to pick up an electric / upright bass, with a resume that spanned a career long Musical Directorship with Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine, and record / touring credits including Jon Secada, Laura Branigan, David Coverdale & Jimmy Page, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Dave Grusin, Frank Sinatra, and Julio Iglesias to cite a select few.

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Chris Brubeck

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He is from the “First Family” of American jazz. Chris Brubeck, son of Dave, is a Grammy nominated composer, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist and electric bassist who has worked stages and slabs with a remarkable array of artists spanning The Brubeck Brothers, Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Gerry Mulligan, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Stephane Grappelli, Patti LaBelle, Larry Coryell, and Bobby Womack to cite a very select few! Plying his craft on a fretless Rickenbacker – Brubeck is a multi-genre master who was quoted in Bass Player opining that “composing is selective improvisation!”

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Eric Haydock

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“Eric was a bad-ass bass player and a very funny man," recalled Graham Nash upon learning of The Hollies’ founding bassist’s passing in early 2019. Commencing his career with Tony Hicks in the Manchester ensemble The Dolphins; Haydock was among the first to adopt the Fender Bass VI six string. Considered one of the premier UK players in the early 1960s and revered by rockers including Edward Rogers and Sal Maida; Haydock, according to the press clips I’ve reviewed, was prevented from writing songs for the group, and consequently left and/or was sacked following a dispute with management.  Regardless, that’s Eric anchoring the lads’ early hits “Just One Look,” “Look Through Any Window,” and their first chart-topper “I’m Alive.”  Following his departure in ’66 Eric formed Haydock’s Rockhouse – a rhythm and blues outfit which was a commercial flop, hence Haydock left the music biz.    

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Tin Machine

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The masses just didn’t get it in 1989, however David’s Tin Machine, to my ears, ranks among his greatest works. As I have been witness to many a Bowie ensemble over his career, including TM on their final concert trek; the triumvirate of Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales, and bassist Tony Sales were incendiary on stage and on record. Tony works the pocket and often renders brilliant counterpoint with legato phrasing and a sharp tone to balance his mates, who took off into the harmonic and rhythmic stratosphere and then some. The live slab, titled as U2 spoofery, offers a glimpse of how remarkable they were on any given night. Of the entire Bowie canon, these three releases warrant re-evaluation. And they were funny in concert too, jibing each other between songs.  

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Emily Duff Band / Maybe In the Morning

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Sometimes the songs are so doggone good that the doghouse plays itself.  Skip Ward works the pocket on upright in the service of Urban Americana songstress Emily Duff who waxes oh-so-poetic over our collective human condition throughout Maybe in the Morning (2017).  

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Cut at FAME Studios, you can feel the history of this iconic locale in the grooves and melodies as rendered by Duff, Ward, drummer Kenny Soule, guitarist Scott Aldrich and session legend Clayton Ivey.

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Dig Ward's rhythm & blues and jazz flavored motifs which afford the Duff ensemble a definitive swingin' disposition. And they're even better on stage…. [www.KnowYourBassPlayer.com] Emily Duff Band photos by Jini Sachse

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Gene Cornish

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Who knew Gene Cornish was a bass player? You did if you read what were once known as "liner notes,” however I don't recall if credits were listed on his early slabs. Renowned as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist, composer, collaborator, recording artist, and vocalist - Gene is a terrific song-player who waxed impressive passages on several Young Rascals and Fotomaker platters. Note that Cornish and the Rascals' cadre of studio bassists were quite impressive as well: Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Chuck Rainey, Ron Blanco, and Pops Popwell.  

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Bobby Lichtig by Jeff Ganz

Jeff Ganz and Bobby Lichtig

Jeff Ganz and Bobby Lichtig

By Jeff Ganz

In the category of “Bassists That Deserve More Recognition”, the first one that comes to mind is Bobby Lichtig.

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Bobby with Seals & Crofts

Bobby is probably best known for his fine bass playing on Seals & Crofts’s biggest hits, but was also an accomplished woodwind player and songwriter. Bobby was also my 1st cousin, whom I admired my whole life, hoping to model my career after his.

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Bobby’s bass sound, both live and on record, was the epitome of what a superb musician could do with a Fender Precision Bass. Later in his career, Bobby had one of the first and one of the best B.C. Rich basses I ever saw or heard, certainly in his hands.

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Bobby first came to the public eye as a member of The Last Ritual, recording an album for Capitol Records in 1969. He joined Seals & Crofts as their sole accompanist on bass and flute in time for their second album “Year Of Sunday”, released in 1971. Bobby’s bass playing on “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl” are textbook examples of how to be a distinctive and sensitive accompanist. In 1975, Bobby joined the L.A. based super group Bonaroo; they did one album for Warner Brothers Records.

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There are three particular moments I remember fondly with Bobby. The first one was in 1972 when he stopped by my parents’ house – on his way to play with Seals & Crofts at Carnegie Hall! The second was in 1991 at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California when he came to see me playing with Johnny Winter. 

The third moment was in 2011, when I visited Bobby at his home in Woodland Hills, California after not seeing him for many years. It was a terrific reunion, complete with ice cream.

Bobby passed away in 2012 of long-time complications from a traumatic head injury. He leaves behind a rich musical legacy worthy of detailed exploration.

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John Montagna

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“What’s up beautiful people?” With all deference to Sammy Davis Jr. - he’s the hardest working cat in show business – ever! Akin to his former teacher Anthony Jackson, we refer to John Montagna as a “bass guitarist.” Yet, John is much, much more than that: his long list of credits include: composer, singer, recording artist, educator, historian, multi-instrumentalist, producer, band-leader, journalist, sideman (“Happy Together Tour,” Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, The Turtles, Chuck Negron, Mark Farner, Mitch Ryder, Denny Laine, The Cowsills, Felix Cavalerie, to cite a very select few), band member (Alan Parsons Project, among others), Berklee alum, super-fan, pundit, prog prognosticator, broadcaster with bassist Jeff Ganz on “Breaking It Down,” host of a sensational seminal slab soliloquy aptly entitled “Ride Jams” rendered from his automobile to and fro gigs, and Radio418 podcaster - among other endeavors. A multi-genre genome, a wizard a true star virtuoso of the instrument, ain’t no musical mountain too high for Montagna. “Listen to music, listen to music, listen to music…it’s good for ya!”    

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Jeff Ganz

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If an alien interloper landed among my cadre of bassists and demanded "take me to your leader" - we'd escort the little green bugger to meet Jeff Ganz. Commencing his musical journey on drums and guitar, Jeff dedicated himself to our instrument (electric and upright) at the ripe old age of 20, and his expansive career is joyous study in versatility - this cat digs just about every style of music and his playing and personal disposition reflects his curiosity as to how all music connects humanity. A player, educator, composer, sideman, collaborator, producer, and band-member (The Hit Men) whose career spans John Lee Hooker, Broadway, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Rita Moreno, Roy Buchanan, Ben Vereen, Lou Reed, and Dr. John to cite a very, very select few - Ganz adapts his playing to every situation with authenticity borne of study and wonder. His podcast, Breaking It Down co-hosted with bass guitarist John Montagna is a college education on the span of 20th Century American popular music. Guy Lombardo used to say that when he exits this mortal coil, he was taking "New Year's Eve" with him - when Ganz pops his clogs, we gotta make sure he doesn't take bass with him! Stay tuned for Jeff Ganz in Know Your Bass Player On Film Season Deux in 2019!

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Hugh McDonald

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Trust me, you’ve “heard” this bass player! Most recognized as a longtime “member” of Bon Jovi, Hugh McDonald’s credits as a session ace alone qualify him for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame merits! An exemplary pocket and melodic player with wide range of styles at his fingertips, Hugh has worked seminal sides and/or stages with scores of artists spanning Phoebe Snow, Jose Feliciano, David Bromberg, Ringo Starr, Steve Forbert, Lita Ford, Carlene Carter, Alice Cooper, Rory Block, Cher, Andy Pratt, Michael Buble, Michael Bolton, and John Prine just to cite a very select few.

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Anne Husick

Photo by Alan Rand

Photo by Alan Rand

Singer, songwriter, collaborator, recording artist, guitarist, vocalist, session singer, percussionist, bandleader, band-member (Ronnie Spector, Band of Susans, Exit 99, Red Gretchen, Deni Bonet Band, Phil Gammage Quartet), bassist, entrepreneur, promoter… if we listed all of Anne Husick’s music credits, we’d likely break the internet. A bona-fide song-player Anne works the pocket and brings harmonic finesse whenever and wherever the situations warrants – which is why you need bass players!   

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Wilko Johnson / Blow Your Mind

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Give me one guitar icon: Wilko Johnson, and add one bass icon: Norman Watt-Roy, and you’ve got Blow Your Mind (2018), a collection which does exactly as the title implies. Wilko and Norm fit like a hand in glove, riffing incessantly yet never overstating their purpose. Watt-Roy’s signature Bass Centre instrument is essentially a hot-rodded Fender Jazz bolstered with Seymour Duncan pick-ups and a Badass Bridge – essential gadgetry as my 1970s bass brethren will attest to. His tone is noticeably thicker which effectively serves Johnson’s brittle Tele timbre. With Mick Talbot on keys and son of Steve - Dylan Howe, in the drum chair - if this slab does not move you, notify your next of kin!  

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Stevie Wonder / Misstra Know It All

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Nathan Watts nails the A side pocket and monster unison line in “Sir Duke,” however the real gem on this 45 is the flipside, curiously included here from Stevie’s earlier, immortal ’73 slab Innervisions. I reckon the suits didn’t want to give away too much of Songs In the Key of Life (’76) which would be any other artist’s greatest hits collection. Dig Willie’s soulful pedal on the verses which he embellishes with chromatic runs, and the relaxed soulful phrasing on the bridge. Weeks and Wonder: two masters at the absolute top of their game.     

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The Band / The Last Waltz

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With all due reverence to Queen at Live Aid, to my eyes and ears, The Band as captured in The Last Waltz on Thanksgiving Day 1976 is, by far, the greatest rock performance ever committed to celluloid.

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Granted, Roberston hijacked the proceedings, and the boys were deeply mired in substance and personal struggles.

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However, they individually and collectively rose to the occasion. Van, Joni, Mac, Hawkins, Neil, Bob, The Staples, Muddy, Mr. Butterfield, Emmylou, Slowhand, and even Neil Diamond were levitated by The Band’s incendiary fusion of rhythm & blues, soul, jazz, rock and roll, folk, and country. 

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Richard Clare Danko soars on every track. Shot in a stunning, dreamlike sepia veneer, Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Chapman absolutely nailed it. And they looked great too!