The Band broke up back in 1977, with Robbie Robertson's The Last Waltz film and triple-LP soundtrack being their magnificent swan song. Robertson went on to work on as a producer, film score composer and even actor (through his friendship with Martin Scorsese). Garth Hudson was much in demand as a studio musician, but the three members who had the best chance of starting solo careers due to their great voices (Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel) struggled to really make it by themselves. So it was that in 1983 the whole band minus Robertson got back together and resumed touring. They were helped by various other musicians to fill out the lineup, and in 1985 Jim Weider joined as their new full-time guitarist. However tragedy struck in 1986 when Richard Manuel committed suicide, aged 42.
They continued touring throughout the 80s, but they were now playing much smaller venues than they had in their heyday. In the early 90s they finally began recording again, with their old producer Joe Simon back on board. By this time the lineup had been extended to also feature pianist Richard Bell and drummer Randy Ciarlante, and many other musicians featured on the new recordings, though the core of the group was still the trio of Levon Helm (vocals & drums), Rick Danko (vocals & bass) and Garth Hudson (keyboards).
1993 saw the release of Jericho, their first studio album in 16 years. The absence of Robbie Roberson meant it relied heavily on cover material and songs from outside sources, though there were some good new originals as well. Two covers in particular were highlights of the album - Bob Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell" and Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City". Though it was received coolly by many fans and critics (who were perhaps wary of the fact that they only had three original members and not much new original material), it's really a brilliant album, some very tasteful roots-rock. It also featured one very special song - "Country Boy", recorded back in 1985, was one of Richard Manuel's final recordings, and among his very best.
The Last Waltz (1978) <|> High On The Hog (1996)