Rick Danko’s Stage Fright: Live Collection

11th May 2016

Title: Stage Fright: Live Collection

Label: Floating World

Danko, of course, was an essential part of The Band. Apart from his bass work, he shared vocal duties with Levon Helm and Richard Manuel though he was the principle voice on the Band’s first album outing, Music From Big Pink and was a distinctive vocal sound during the self-titled second album. It’s nice to see this 4CD set celebrate the man’s passion and creative skill.

This limited-edition set arrives in a multi-gatefold package and features sound desk-quality live recordings from the 70s, 80s and 90s including performances performed as a solo artist but also with his Band colleague Manuel and blues man, Paul Butterfield.

What’s interesting about this set, before we get to the nitty gritty subject of the music itself, is that it was initially only going to be a 2CD set (in fact, when you read the included liner notes, the author, Alan Robinson, refers to this ‘2CD’ set) but the producers found more music in the archives and felt that they couldn’t leave their new discoveries off the collection, hence, this new release mushroomed to four CDs.

I assume that the initial set was CDs one and two with the ‘new’ additions being discs three and four. If that’s the case, then anyone yearning for echoes of The Band will be well served because Danko’s 16 tracks with Richard Manuel on CD2 is extended by a further 12 tracks on CD3 featuring Band favourites such as C.C. Rider, When You Awake, The Shape I’m In, The Weight, Caledonia Mission and Unfaithful Servant.

You’ll also hear tracks from Danko’s solo outing including Java Blues and interesting covers such as Ray Charles’ You Don’t Know Me.

Don’t expect audiophile quality with this (or any) string of live performances but do expect an intimate, emotional and warm series of performances with plenty of chat to add atmosphere.