The Band

Northern Lights Southern Cross - Capitol 1977

Tracks: 1. Forbidden Fruit/ 2. Hobo Jungle / 3. Ophelia / 4. Acadian Driftwood / 5. Ring Your Bell / 6. It Makes No Difference / 7. Jupiter Hollow / 8. Rags & Bones / 9. Twilight (Early Alternate Version) / 10. Christmas Must Be Tonight (Alternate Version)


"Northern Light, Southern Cross" was the last Band album that I really got into. Their first 3 albums were immediate favourites, but "Cahoots" was a disappointment and I did not like "Moondog Matinee" ( all old covers ) at all, when it was released in 1973; later I have come to appreciate that album too. I actually thought it was over with the Band. So I guess I never really gave "Northern Light, Southern Cross" the chance it needed and deserved, when I was first introduced to it around 1978. The songs somehow did not appeal to me at the time. Luckily with the re-releases of all the Band`s original albums ( with bonus-tracks and great informative booklets ) I chose to give this album a new chance. Now I realize that this album is really among the Band`s finest; which says a lot!!

The original album consisted of only 8 tracks, which was due to the relatively long playing time of the songs. They recorded 9 songs for the album, but the great track "Twilight" never made it to the album, but was released as a 1976 single instead. The version included here is not the finished version, but an early take of it. "Christmas Must Be Tonight" is also an early version of the song; to get these 2 great songs in their finished shape, go for the re-release of "Islands".

The opener "Forbidden Fruit" is a typical Band-rocker sung by Levon Helm, in his best "Stage Fright" style; this is one of the longest tracks and it features some of Robertson`s rare guitar-solo work. Sadly some Band members did not take the warning in the song seriously enough.

The ballad "Hobo Jungle" is beautifully sung by Richard Manuel; a song that is somehow often overlooked. One of my favourites on the album.

"Ophelia" was also released as a single and was actually a minor hit (#73) - it`s a song written in 1920-30`s style.

"Acadian Driftwood" is one the standouts. Great melody and the blend of the three great Band voices is a thrill. On their early albums this was one of their trademarks. The song tells the story of the Acadians, a native people, who was removed from their home to another place in America. A moving story told over many verses.

"Ring Your Bell" is sung by Manuel with Danko and Helm helping on the chorus.

"It Makes No Difference" is another standout. Danke delivers one his best vocal performances on a Band record. Again all three great voices join in the chorus.

"Jupiter Hollow" is the one track that I never really got. It`s a kind of funky tune sung by Helm.

"Rags and Bones" again, sung by Manuel, features another original Robertson guitar-solo.

Both bonus-tracks are good, though especially "Christmas Must Be Tonight" is not as good as the finished version that can be found on the "Islands" re-issue.

A great album, where all three great vocalists show to their best advantage, both individually and collectively

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