If you have it, will you throw your’s away?

Robertson charts the Band’s musical journey
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – If Robbie Robertson had his way, every owner of “Across the Great Divide,” a three-CD retrospective of the Band issued in 1994, would toss that collection in the garbage and replace it with “The Band: A Musical History.”
The new set, which comprises five CDs and one DVD and includes more than 100 tracks, comes out September 27 on Capitol/EMI. Robertson spent years curating the collection.
“That (1994) set was completely inaccurate. I think they were just guessing,” the Band’s guitarist says. “This one is absolutely true. Forget the 1994 one ever was.”
The new collection starts with a 1963 recording of “Who Do You Love” by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (the Band’s earliest incarnation) and ends, as it must, with tracks from “The Last Waltz,” the Band’s star-studded farewell performance, captured on film by Martin Scorsese.
While the highlights are too numerous to mention, many fans will considerthe previously unreleased live material — including sets with Bob Dylan (whom the Band backed from September 1965 until May 1966) — the set’s standout.
For Robertson, who had not listened to much of this material in years, if ever, one of the most pleasant surprises was “the musicality of the journey.” But, as he stresses, he and his Band mates were hardly a “group who got guitars for Christmas and decided we wanted to get a record deal.”
Indeed, by the time “Music From Big Pink,” the Band’s legendary 1968 album came out, the group had been together for years and had absorbed musical influences from across America’s vast landscape.
“When that album came out, people acted like, ‘Where in the world did this come from?’ like it was so unusual,” Robertson recalls. “And we were like, ‘These are all the musics that we know. There are the flavors we know. It was that simple. We’re bringing them with us when we come.”‘
While there was joy in putting together the boxed set, Robertson says there was also great sadness for people lost along the way. “The painful part of all this was losing Rick Danko and Richard Manuel. The sounds of Richard’s voice or Rick’s voice, it would just tear my heart out.” Danko died in 1999 and Manuel in 1986.
The set’s release puts an end to the Band … for now. “I keep saying, ‘Now I’m done with the Band,”‘ Robertson says. “I’m just not keen to be going back up into the attic and going into the trunks. I’m more interested in tomorrow.”
Still, he admits he may go back to the well one more time. “I just have to write a book on it, and I’ll be all caught up. As soon as I get some time, I’m going out to that little cabin in the woods (and write). I like telling stories, as one might figure.”
But there has never been a moment when Robertson considered reuniting with the Band’s surviving members. “It never crossed my mind. Things happen a certain way. It’s in some higher power’s hands. You can’t do something if it won’t bend that way.”