Northern Lights, Southern Cross – A Forgotten Classic from The Band

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics


Northern Lights – Southern Cross

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and one of their four essential albums (the others being Music from Big Pink, the Self-Titled second and Rock of Ages).

This is the UNDISCOVERED GEM in the Band catalog. Allmusic is right on the money when they call this the best Band album since their self-titled second release. I positively LOVE this music, having practically worn out my copy soon after the album was released in 1975.

More of The Band

This album is a favorite of ours here at Better Records, but it’s beyond difficult to find good-sounding copies. Most are just too flat, dry and grainy to bother with, but we’ve finally managed to unearth a few copies that are capable of doing justice to these great songs. If you’re a fan I wouldn’t wait too long on this one!

Yes, every track is good, something that one cannot say about any other Band release after their classic sophomore effort. What makes the album a Must Own is the song It Makes No Difference. It’s a strong contender for the Best Band Ballad ever written (and takes the prize in my book).

Further Reading

We invite you to check out some of our favorite albums which You May Not Know.

Many of them are also Desert Island Discs for yours truly. A Desert Island Disc is simply a record I would not want to live without. If there are any on the list that you haven’t heard, try giving them a listen. You may be glad you did.

Album Background

Northern Lights – Southern Cross was the first album to be recorded at their new California studio, Shangri-La, and the first album of all new material since 1971’s Cahoots. All eight songs are credited as compositions of guitarist Robbie Robertson.

Northern Lights – Southern Cross was recorded using a 24-track tape recorder, which allowed Garth Hudson to include multiple layers of keyboards on several tracks.

Three songs from the album – “It Makes No Difference”, “Ophelia” and “Acadian Driftwood” – were performed at The Last Waltz, the Band’s 1976 “final performance”. “It Makes No Difference” and “Ophelia” were included in the Last Waltz film and on the original 1978 soundtrack album.

The album was well-received critically: Rolling Stone declared that The Band had kicked “a field goal”, and, while he was put off by the sentimentality of the lyrics, Robert Christgau wrote “the pure comeliness of every melody on this album led to an immediate infatuation.”