August 17: The Band released Stage Fright in 1970

stage fright

See the man with the stage fright
Just standin’ up there to give it all his might.
And he got caught in the spotlight,
But when we get to the end
He wants to start all over again.

August 17: The Band released Stage Fright in 1970

Stage Fright is the third studio album by The Band. Much more of a rock album than its predecessors, it was a departure from their previous two efforts in that its tone was darker and featured less of the harmony vocal blend that had been a centerpiece of those two albums. It also included the last two recordings by The Band of new songs credited to pianist Richard Manuel; both were co-written with guitarist Robbie Robertson, who would continue to be the group’s dominant lyricist until the group disbanded in 1976. Nonetheless, the tradition of switching instruments that had begun on the previous album continued here, with each musician contributing instrumental parts on at least two different instruments.

Engineered by an up-and-coming Todd Rundgren, and produced by the group themselves for the first time, the album was recorded at the Woodstock Playhouse in their homebase of Woodstock, New York.

Stage Fright (from The Last Waltz):

“The Band was widely acclaimed after its first two albums; Stage Fright seemed to be the group’s alarmed response, which made it their most nakedly confessional. It was certainly different from their previous work, which had tended toward story-songs set in earlier times, but it was hardly less compelling for that.”

“…the songs this time around were far more personal, and, despite a nominal complacency, quite troubling.”

– William Ruhlmann (allmusic)

Time to Kill (live at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh in November 1970):

I love this album, to me it is at least as good as the two first albums by The Band. The darker tone fits the music and we have later learned quite a bit about the ordeals the band and some of the individual members went through. Recommended reading (even if a bit one-sided…):

this wheels on fire

“…when Stage Fright came about, all I was doing was feeling my way along. But, where everybody was in a huddle on both Big Pink andThe Band, with Stage Fright it didn’t feel like we were all connected in the same kind of way. In this period of experimentation in life, in music, in drugs, people kept wanting to stretch and reach and go somewhere and try things and, in the course of that, some real alienation can take place as well. When these things are chemically induced, you can feel an incredible shutdown of communication.”

– Robbie Robertson

The Reviewers weren’t as positive as with the two first albums, but it has held up really good over the years and I always think of those three albums as a trilogy.

The Shape I’m In (from The Last Waltz):

The band went from dissecting the myths of the old west into much more personal territory. A very natural progression as drugs, among them heroin, had forced a shift in tone, as had The Band’s problems in handling sudden fame and fortune.

Out of misery, sometimes great art is born. Enjoy!

Stage Fright on Spotify:

– Hallgeir

Sources: Rolling Stone, Wikipedia, Allmusic, Liner notes Remasterd 2000 release