Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Band: The Last Waltz [Warner Bros., 1978]
The movie improves when you can't see it--Robbie Robertson and friends don't play anywhere near as smug as they look (or talk). And for an olio featuring eleven guest vocalists and a studio "suite," the soundtrack is remarkably coherent. The four new Band tunes are nothing special, but everybody lays into the oldies. The blues sequence--beefed up by Toussaint's horns, Butterfield's harp, Muddy's pipes, and a blistering if messy Robertson-Clapton duet--is a small landmark, Morrison and Young are worth going back to, and Dylan's "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" is spunky enough to make up for "Forever Young." Not only that, Joni Mitchell and Neil Diamond are on the same side. Bet this ages a lot better than Woodstock--in a way, it already has. B+