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3.6 out of 5 stars24
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on November 20, 2000
Alright, let's get it out of the way, here and now: "Cahoots" is not the equal of either of The Band's two debut albums, "Music From Big Pink" or "The Band." What it is is a frequently excellent and very underrated work perfectly worthy of the group's talents. If the songs do not dip into the American past as deeply as some from the forementioned albums, they still show the group pushing their music in a new direction. "Cahoots" at least emerges superior to their third album "Stage Fright."
A few of my favorite tracks include "Last of the Blacksmiths," an exhilarating-but-thoughtful piece that recalls the same yearning for a lost time as the classic song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"; "Where Do We Go From Here?," a beautiful ballad in which Robbe Robertson plunders the same vein Richard Manuel did in "In a Station" and "Lonesome Suzie"; "Shoot Out in Chinatown," a casually brilliant composition whose upbeat music belies the odd subject matter (a police raid of an opium den); "The Moon Struck One," a haunting and daringly slow solo for Manuel; and "Bessie Smith," hands down the best track on the album. An outtake, previously heard on "The Basement Tapes," this is a wonderful rendition of one of The Band's very greatest songs (in the same class as "Tears of Rage," "I Shall Be Released," "Rockin' Chair" and "Whispering Pines") and a reason to buy the album in itself.
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on August 30, 2000
The Band is one of my favorite bands, and their first two albums are unanimously prized as two landmarks in rock history. In recent years, people have come to appreciate later, underrated albums like "Stage Fright" and "Rock of Ages." However, popular opinion for "Cahoots" hasn't gotten much better, and for good reason. Very few of the original album tracks are good, and only two tracks, "4% Pantomime" (a great duet between Van Morrison and the late Richard Manuel) and "Life Is A Carnival," could be ranked as true, great Band classics. Actually, "Life Is A Carnival" never felt like much of a song; what really breathes life into it is the exuberant horn arrangement done by legendary rock producer/arranger/writer Allen Toussaint. Another popular favorite from this album is "When I Paint My Masterpiece," a good Dylan song that doesn't quite get the definitive treatment here (I heard Robbie Robertson actually hated the final recording). As for the rest, there's nothing abysmal or unlistenable. It's just not all that good.
What does make this album worth owning now is the new reissue by Capitol. For one thing, the sound is a lot better, having been remastered with state-of-the-art technology as well as the original master tapes. But more important than better sound is the legendary studio version of "Don't Do It," by far the best bonus track on the reissue. I've always loved the Band's rendition of this song ever since I saw them perform it in their film, "The Last Waltz." For years, the only official release of this song was a great live version from "Rock of Ages," but unbelievably this studio take is even better. The sound isn't phenomenal (the only available source was a demo record), but it crushes every version ever made like a grape. It's arguably the only Motown song that was done better by someone else.
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on April 18, 2002
It is eery listening to this record in light of their better work--the voices are the same, the instrumental virtuosity evident if not on full display. It starts off well (Carnival, Masterpiece), then doesn't go anywhere. I guess the problem is the pretentious songwriting, which seems to have dampened everyone's enthusiasm for the project. The bonus tracks just highlight this: the Motown chestnut "Don't Do It", despite inferior sound quality, is now one of the best tracks. The cover painting says it all--5 wizened men standing somberly behind a crypt. Perfect depiction of the dreary music inside. Back photo is also on track, the five with their eyes closed--Levon's furrowed brow the tipoff. Is it only a rumor that one of the outtakes from the photo session has them holding their noses? Tip: their second lp, The Band, is a must have. Their first, Big Pink, plus one of the many best ofs, is all you need to round it out.
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on December 11, 2003
If your a band fan already read on. If not I recommend starting with 'The Band' or 'Rock of Ages' albums first. It has been well documented that 'Cahoots' is supposedly a poor album compared with the others. While most of the tracks aren't exceptional, such as on 'The Band', this album contains two of the best Rick Danko sung Band songs of their collection. 'Where Do We Go From Here' is a well crafted song that is beautifully sung. The liner notes suggest that Robbie Robertson wishes The Band had taken this song further. If they had, it would have been phenomenal. The other song is 'Thinkin' Out Loud'. This track features Garth on piano and Richard on Drums. The arrangement is superb. The vocal blend on both tracks is reminiscent of their 'classic'sound. If you're a Band fan and haven't already got this album then I recommend you get it for these tracks alone. The rest of the album is o.k. but nothing to spectacular.
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on May 1, 2001
Many critics consider Cahoots a disappointment as it doesn't live up to their first three albums. It is true that it isn't in the league of the first three, but that's all relative. Cahoots is a solid, sometimes spectacular album that shows off the group's musical prowess by playing over 40 different instruments and Robbie Robertson's supreme wordsmanship. "Life Is A Carnival" is an apply named song as it has a carnival like sound with the cacophony of horns. "4% Pantomime" is an excellent song that features Van Morrison in duet with Richard Manuel. "Shootout In Chinatown" has sharp imagery and "Thinkin' Out Loud" is an underrated track. "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is an all right cover of a Bob Dylan song, but somewhat disappointing considering their track record with his songs. All in all, Cahoots is worth a listen.
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on December 11, 2000
This reissue is worth it for the extra tracks, especially the early studio take of "Endless Highway" sung by the great Richard Manuel. "Bessie Smith" is another excellent extra track, featuring a rare vocal from Robbie Robertson. As far as the original tracks, "Last of the the Blacksmiths", "The Moon Struck One", and "4% Pantomine" all allow Manuel to showcase his tremendous voice once again. On "4%" he duets with Van Morrison on a song , interestingly enough, about the difference between Johnnie Walker Red and Johnnie Walker Black scotch. (hint...it's the proof). If you're just getting into The Band, and you think they stopped making great make music after the first two albums, buy this album. With the extra tracks, it is probably a more solid album than "Stage Fright".
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on September 7, 2000
To call this album the worst Band album is accurate to a degree, but also a bit misleading. The thing is this: it's not by any stretch of the imagaination a "bad" album. The songs are a bit weak in spots, sure, but the way these guys *PLAY*!!... they could make a brittney spears song sound good!
It does have a couple of classics: "4% Pantomine" s utterly great, and "Moon Struck one" is one of Robertson's most bizarre compositions. The cover of "When I Paint my masterpiece" is absolutely great.
Even when these guys were "off" they were great!
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on February 4, 2014
I should have sent this back, but I was busy and did not have time. The copy that I received was flawed and it skipped several times on my platter. I cleaned it, but it still skips. My turntable and stylus are correctly balanced.
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on February 4, 2003
Remove the awful Smoke Signal and Volcano, and Cahoots would hold up well with The Band's prior albums. Cahoots has a wide variety of styles and experimentation, so it's not surprising that it draws a mixed reaction. I think the two tunes mentioned above, which run in succession and are the first truly bad songs appearing on a Band album, are a serious drawback. The rest of the album is excellent.
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on February 3, 2002
A not too bad CD with a couple of real gems like Carnival and Masterepiece. Van Morrison adds a nice touch too. The Band had very much reached a creative cul de sac by the time of Cahoots, thankfully they turned it all around for the superb Northern Lights-Southern Cross. Still, even a burnt out weary effort by the truest of bands provides for interesting listening.
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