It’s been named the best concert film of all time, but The Band’s star-studded 1976 swansong hasn’t entirely escaped the ravages of time. With Scorsese directing – and legendary cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond behind the cameras – it’s arguably the most beautiful of rock movies, while the musical highlights – ‘The Weight’ with the Staples Singers, Van Morrison’s firebolt ‘Caravan’, every Levon Helm vocal – still astound. But the transition from soulful ’70s grit to coke-friendly ’80s sheen is all too audible, and too many songs are marred by saxes, unnecessary guitar solos or, in the case of Neil Young’s lovely ‘Helpless’, Joni Mitchell warbling like a demented hippy fire alarm. Still, for fans of Proper Music, ‘The Last Waltz’ remains the gold standard.
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