WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — With the release of The Band's first new music in 18 years, recorded on the album ``Jericho,'' the group that was once considered America's answer to the Beatles is back in the public eye.
The songs on ``Jericho'' span seven years, from the last thing Richard Manuel ever recorded, ``Country Boy'' in 1985, to the newer originals recorded last summer, ``The Caves of Jericho'' and ``Remedy.'' Other highlights of the album include understated but powerful covers of Bob Dylan's ``Blind Willie McTell'' and Bruce Springsteen's ``Atlantic City.''
Original members of The Band - Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, and the late Manuel (who committed suicide in 1986) - will be inducted into the Rock Roll Hall of Fame in January. Helm's new book about The Band, ``This Wheel's on Fire,'' co-written with Stephen Davis, came out earlier in the fall.
They were a group that cultivated a reclusive image in their Catskill Mountain enclave around Woodstock. And theirs is one of the most famous stories in music history, including playing backup for Dylan when he went from guitar-strumming folkie to electrified rocker in the mid-'60s. The group produced two albums that are considered among the best in rock: ``Music From Big Pink'' (1968) and ``The Band'' (1969).