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Band - Book - Elliot Landy/The Band Photographs 1968-1969

  by Keith How

published: 21 / 7 / 2016

Band - Book - Elliot Landy/The Band Photographs 1968-1969


Keith How examines Elliott Landy’s photographs of the Band which are presented in a new published book

The year was 1968. The flowers of the summer of love were becoming a faded memory. Change was in the air. Bob Dylan was living in Woodstock, New York. His “backing band” cunningly named “The Band” (having shed the Hawks name when Dylan enlisted them) were holed up in Woodstock also in a house they called 'The Big Pink' that Dylan had rented for them. It was here that the legendary 'Basement Tapes' were recorded. Elliott Landy recounts how he first encountered the group in his opening introduction to his book. He had an assignment to take pictures for the album 'Music from Big Pink' that featured a Dylan painting on the cover. His relationship with The Band began then. He joined their inner circle and the results of that friendship are revealed in the evocative works reproduced in this publication. Landy is a fortunate man in the right place at the right time with the right people. His sepia-toned pictures perfectly capture the dignity and beauty of the Band. They appear as ghosts of older times taking Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 'Deja Vu' cover to a different level. The intimacy is clear. Whether the guys are drinking coffee, hanging around or posing in the landscape the honesty and authenticity is breathtaking. The legendary photographer, now in his 70s, maintains he doesn’t feel old but felt that he needed to complete his project that featured The Band. This body of work gives a sweet picture of the “family” that was The Band. Landy tells a story revealing the group’s iconic status as musicians who did things in their own way shunning popularity and modern trends. Some would say they are the inventors of what we now call “Americana”. The book itself is magnificent. It is a large coffee table affair that will keep you occupied for hours. Before I opened up my copy I slipped 'The Basement Tapes' on my Hi Fi and was transported to those halcyon days. The photographs are grainy and sometimes blurry yet completely capture a sense of time and place. Posed images sit alongside casual moments of shared friendship and leisure. The famous images of the band appearing as Wild West characters returning from Church in their Sunday best are just wonderful. Landy’s work is genius. I had to keep reminding myself that these were taken in the days before digital photography. There appears to be experimentation with styles and lighting. The photographer is more concerned with his photography than presenting an image to be sold. A nice addition is colour and infra red experimentations. Most of the photographs on the 160 pages are previously unpublished and selected from around 8,000 original negatives and presented in a sensitive uncluttered fashion with an index at the back of the book. John Simon’s essay 'The Band' is a great addition to what can only be described as an historical document of a moment of rock history presented with integrity and honesty. A real treasure.

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Band - Book - Elliot Landy/The Band Photographs 1968-1969

Band - Book - Elliot Landy/The Band Photographs 1968-1969

Band - Book - Elliot Landy/The Band Photographs 1968-1969

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