Take Me to the River 1978-1982

Take Me to the River 1978-1982

by Levon Helm

If Levon Helm was going to record with somebody besides the Band, who better to back him up than the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section? In 1978, Helm and producer Donald "Duck" Dunn (former bassist with Booker T. & the MG's) cut the sessions for Helm's self-titled second…  See more details below


If Levon Helm was going to record with somebody besides the Band, who better to back him up than the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section? In 1978, Helm and producer Donald "Duck" Dunn (former bassist with Booker T. & the MG's) cut the sessions for Helm's self-titled second solo album with the MSRS (Barry Beckett on keys, Jimmy Johnson on guitar, David Hood on bass, and Roger Hawkins on drums), who were the musicians behind some of the greatest R&B records of the 1960s, including classic sides by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge, and put their superior chops and sinewy grooves to the service of Paul Simon, Bob Seger, and Willie Nelson in the 1970s. However, while this sounded like a great combination on paper, it didn't work so well in actual practice, and a 1982 album (also simply called Levon Helm) that once again teamed Helm and the Muscle Shoals boys (with Johnson and Beckett producing) didn't fare any better. The Australian reissue label Raven Records has paired these two Levon Helm albums on one CD titled Take Me to The River 1978-1982, and they illustrate the trouble Helm had with his solo career in the 1970s and '80s. Neither of these albums can be called bad -- the Muscle Shoals players are in fine fettle (Hawkins is one of the few drummers who can match Helm's dusty Southern groove), the horn players and guest stars add welcome texture and color, and Helm is in fine voice throughout. However, though Levon sings well here, he rarely sounds inspired, and the material doesn't give him much to get excited about; the best songs here are the most familiar, such as "Willie and the Hand Jive," "Play Something Sweet," and "Take Me to the River," and the newer songs aren't especially strong, though "I Came Here to Party" (written by Tony Joe White), "Ain't No Way to Forget You," and "I've Got a Bet with Myself" are just good enough to stand out. Helm has often accused Robbie Robertson of taking credit for the songwriting contributions of his partners in the Band, and there may be some truth to that, but most of Helm's solo work shows he doesn't have much of a knack for coming up with interesting material on his own (he didn't write any of the songs on this collection), and though he seems to be having a good time on these two albums, nothing here is as exciting or resonant as his work with the Band -- or his 2007 "comeback" album Dirt Farmer. This is somewhat better than average rootsy rock & roll, but disappointing considering the talent involved.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Raven [australia]


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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Levon Helm   Primary Artist,Mandolin,Drums,Vocals,Background Vocals
Steve Cropper   Guitar
Howard Johnson   Baritone Saxophone
Bonnie Bramlett   Vocals
Pete Carr   Guitar
Robert Byrne   Vocals
Ava Aldridge   Vocals
Barry Beckett   Keyboards
Mickey Buckins   Percussion,Drums
Larry Byrom   Guitar
Terry Cagle   Vocals
Harrison Calloway   Trumpet
Duncan Cameron   Guitar
Earl Cate   Guitar,Background Vocals
Ernie Cate   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Ben Cauley   Trumpet
Ronnie Eades   Baritone Saxophone
Scott Edwards   Bass
Ron Eoff   Vocals
Dan Ferguson   Guitar
Owen Hale   Percussion,Drums
Willie Hall   Percussion,Drums
Robert Harwell   Tenor Saxophone
Roger Hawkins   Percussion,Drums
David Hood   Bass
Jimmy Johnson   Guitar
Lenny LeBlanc   Vocals
Mac McAnally   Vocals
Lou Marini   Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Randy McCormick   Keyboards
Will McFarlane   Vocals
Wayne Perkins   Guitar,Vocals
Charles Rose   Trombone
Alan Rubin   Trumpet
Russell Smith   Vocals
Harvey Thompson   Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy "Doc" Simpson   Clarinet
Richie Supa   Vocals
Mary Berry   Background Vocals
Lou Del Gatto   Baritone Saxophone
Tom Malone   Trombone
Steven Hathan   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Johnny Otis   Composer
Eddie Cochran   Composer
Green   Composer
Roger Chapman   Composer
Gerry Goffin   Composer
Barry Goldberg   Composer
Tony Joe White   Composer
Troy Seals   Composer
Kerry Chater   Composer
Barry Beckett   Producer
Mickey Buckins   Composer
Jerry Capehart   Composer
Earl Cate   Composer
Ernie Cate   Composer
Donald "Duck" Dunn   Producer
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges   Composer
Jimmy Johnson   Producer
Benny Latimore   Composer
Richard Supa   Composer
Tommy Talton   Composer
Allen Toussaint   Composer
Tony Chapman   Composer
Johanna Hall   Composer
Andrew Bown   Composer
Keith Glass   Liner Notes
Thomas Snow   Composer
David Elliot   Composer
Grady Smith   Composer
Louise Cook   Layout
John J. Hall   Composer
Tom Malone   Horn Arrangements
Daniel Joseph Moore   Composer
Melvin Gordon   Composer
William C. Quillen   Composer

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