I've been looking for an excuse to rave about this film for a while, one of only two DVDs I own; now I've got it.
Every Wednesday, the floridacracker posts a new photo of Duane Allman. And every Wednesday a crew of Duane's ultra-fans comments on both a fine new photo and also a broad range of topics that flow from the comment interchange.
Yesterday, regular commenter/guitar player csason wrote, in part "... I've always wondered how 'The Weight' would have sounded with Janis on vocals instead of 'Retha. ..."
I hadn't had my coffee yet. I read and wrote my response comment so fast I suppressed my knowledge that Aretha Frankin had indeed done this song with Duane on guitar (from his Muscle Shoals studio musician era. (So shoot me if I don't let facts get in my way.) Csason's comment inspired this, corrected-here, response from me:
If your unhappy with 'Retha on vocals singin' "The Weight", here's an alternative to check out. In Martin Scorcese's film The Last Waltz -- The Band's last concert in 1978 at Winterland, Scorcese adds a few studio tracks to enhance what has been called the greatest concert movie ever (more on that below). On one of those filmed studio tracks, The Staple Singers and Emmylou Harris are aboard with Robbie and the boys to cover "The Weight". All the right people on stage take a verse. Mavis Staples' verse is as close to [the perfect way to sing this classic] as we may ever get. FYI.
Bottom Line: The Last Waltz CD set and DVD are both essentials. The Last Waltz link above explains more about this once-in-a-lifetime concert celebration. Further, on the DVD, Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson overdub a commentary on the film in the "bonus material." What you can learn about the craft of film-making from Scorcese and how great a human being Robbie is alone make this DVD a sound investment for any serious collector. And I haven't even discussed performances by Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, and Joni Mitchell, among others.
Finally, my top three rock films:
1. Albert and David Maysles' Gimme Shelter
2. Woodstock (The Director's Cut)
3. The Last Waltz
Honorable Mention: The Concert for Bangladesh