Maccalvr: I agree. Robbie ain't to blame for Manuel's suicide. But you need to read Levon's book (which I don't think Robertson has ever publicly disputed) re. the corporate decision to "kill" The Band (and effectively prevent the others from continuing as an entity). I wish the Band had had found another great singer-songwriter to write songs for them. Or a team of songwriters. Or do albums with specific artists. Like Van Morrison and the Band (much like Van's album with the Chieftains). The closest they came to that was Neil Young's On the Beach--which has some badass drumming and bassplaying. One song left over from the sessions was included on Neil's Hawks and Doves and is really eerie, weird and great. Can't remember the title off the top of my head. But it shows what might have been . . . .
I guess what I find frustrating (and what Levon complains about) is that this great musical unit was shut down (for a big payday which never materialized and a supposed movie career for Robbie--notice how "made up" he looks in the film compared to the other guys? Especially with that disco-stu scarf. I'm glad he wasn't wearing that on the cover of the brown album). Ironically, Levon had a bigger career as an actor than Robbie--and I think he did it just to spite him.
Can you imagine writing for voices like Levon, Rick and Richard? And having Garth Hudson around to tinker with atmosphere. That's what seems like a crazy no-brainer to me. Personally, I think Robbie was written out by about 1971 and only wrote a couple of great songs after that. I don't care much for his overproduced 80s stuff. The Band's 90s stuff (even without Richard) has a lot more bounce. Too bad they didn't do a whole album of John Hiatt's stuff . . . .
Oh well, enough rant.
Wayne L. , I like your topics.