Greg Sandow
August 20, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Across the Great Divide: The Band and America

Current Status
In Season
Barney Hoskyns
Music, Biography

We gave it a B-

In this frustrating study, British music writer Barney Hoskyns gets half The Band’s story right. First he shows us — in evocative detail — how four rowdy Canadians got the rockin’ pneumonia and improbably joined with a redneck from Arkansas to create some of the richest music ever heard. Then he grows distant from the group’s decline, turning Across the Great Divide into a hackneyed rock & roll morality play (Robbie Robertson took his fame too seriously, the others were overwhelmed by theirs). Hoskyns offers no critical overview — though he endlessly cites others’ opinions — and hence can’t put The Band’s problematic latter years in any context. But that lapse doesn’t explain why he seems to lose interest in his subjects, especially bassist Rick Danko and keyboard player Garth Hudson. Critic Greil Marcus, who wrote a famous 1975 essay on The Band, gets mentioned in the book more often than those two do. B-

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