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The album features most members of the Grateful Dead, plus members of Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Tower of Power, Stephen Stills, and more, and it includes versions LP two major Dead tunes which also exist in better-known form on Bob Weir's Ace. Jerry and Bobby's albums include several songs the Dead had already been performing, and which would remain Dead staples through the end of the band's career, and Bobby's album really was a Grateful Dead album in everything but name it was entirely recorded by the then-current lineup of the Grateful Dead, except Pigpen whose health was in bad shapeso it felt important to include these two albums on a list of the band's studio work.
Again, there are many other Dead-related studio albums that exist, and no disrespect is meant to those albums. Jerry was really the band's core and best songwriter, but Bobby had already written at least a couple classics by "The Other One," "Sugar Magnolia"so he was more than ready to pen an entire album with help from Dead lyricists John Barlow and Robert Hunter.
Seven of Ace 's eight songs became or already were Dead staples, and some are among the band's biggest crowdpleasers -- not bad for The Other One's first solo move. What Bobby lacked on Acethough, was the knack for psychedelia that the Dead are so famous for. Workingman's Dead and American Beauty saw them easing up on the sonic acid trips, but no Dead album at the time had been as sober as Ace.
The only moments that really take you there are the instrumental passages in "Playing in the Band," which is also why that song is usually superior in concert, when the band can really lean into those instrumental passages and take them in all kinds of exciting directions. As far as the album's more traditional sounding songs go, the blues-rockin' "Greatest Story Ever Told" and "One More Saturday Night" are standouts that really show Bobby was turning into a pretty commanding songwriter.
But his most impressive songwriting was still yet to come. Shakedown Street came one year after Terrapin Stationand it continued the shift towards Disco Dead that began on that album, particularly on the iconic title track. With a funky groove, a fat, rubbery guitar riff, the singalong hooks, and especially the shoutalong "whoo!
It's more effective in a live setting, especially because of LP satisfaction the crowd gets when the Dead land back on the verse after extended jamming, but it's in fine form on this album too. It's got the shiny production that this kind of song needs but it's not over produced, and Jerry's voice and the background harmonies are as smooth as can be in a good way.
The same way the Stones Album) their rock swagger intact when they went disco on "Miss You," Jerry manages to still sound like the mythical musical creature he was during the psychedelic era. Another thing Shakedown Street has in common with Terrapin Station is that it suffers from giving then-contemporary-sounding and now very dated reworks to covers that had been in the band's repertoire since the '60s. Were they too busy touring to care as much about completing an album, or just out of ideas?
No complaints that the Dead kept those songs in their live repertoire, but in the context of Shakedown Streetthey just bring the album down. For all its shortcomings, Shakedown Street had a few other magical moments besides its title track.
The most magical is "Fire on the Mountain," which would become a major highlight of the Dead's concerts when paired with "Scarlet Begonias" from 's From the Mars Hotel more on this below in the From the Mars Hotel sectionbut it's a highlight of Shakedown Street too. Like "Scarlet Begonias" and "Franklin's Tower" before it, it's got a reggae-ish groove and one of the catchiest Jerry-sung choruses the Dead ever wrote though this one was actually written by drummer Mickey Hart, not Jerry, with lyrics by Jerry's usual collaborator Robert Hunter.
The Dead were touring a lot inand it was their most tiring period as a touring band since that was the year they were using their massive Wall of Sound speaker system which required a lot of time to set up and break down. Possibly due to fatigue or time constraints, From the Mars Hotel is a modest, straightforward album as far as the Dead's mid-'70s studio albums go.
It's got some filler -- songs like "U. Blues," "Loose Lucy," and "Money Money" either sound dated upon arrival, silly, or both -- but it still made for some fine Dead studio moments. Neither is as majestic as "Box of Rain," but, co-writing with poet Robert M.
As much as the song takes on a new life in concert, there's something about hearing it with the crisp yet not too polished production of From the Mars Hotel and at an economical four-ish minutes that really makes the song shine. It's an irresistible dose of funky rock that really livens up From the Mars Hoteland that sets the tone for future funky rock Grateful Dead songs to come, like, well, "Fire on the Mountain. It's the only song like it on From the Mars Hoteland it's strong enough to bump the whole album up a slot or two on lists like these.
They were back on the road after taking a bit of a hiatus in which saw the release of the Steal Your Face live album and Jerry's solo album Reflectionswhich featured the Dead on four of its eight songsthey were no longer weighed down by their Wall of Sound speaker system, and they were just really gelling on stage that year. It's a great album, but it's not quite as flawless as the band's live shows were that year. Side A is saved by the overcast funk groove of "Estimated Prophet," one of Bob Weir's finest contributions to the band's disco-inspired output, but the real reason that Terrapin Station ranks as high in the band's discography as it does is the titular suite, which takes up the entirety of Side B.
There are a lot of Dead songs that didn't reach their full potential until they were heard in concert, but the "Terrapin Station" suite was the opposite.
Parts of "Terrapin" have been performed live, but the Dead never played the entire thing from start to finish, and they certainly didn't play it with the orchestra or the choir that's on the album version. Apparently, members of the band disagreed with the extravagant arrangements that Keith Olsen commissioned for the song, but if that's true, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with them.
It sounds like someone mashed Sgt. Pepper's and Aqualung together into one minute song, but it also sounds like no one other than the Dead. The weirdo acid-trip passages are there, the Rhythm Devils are going wild, and Jerry leads the way with the same presence he had since the late '60s. Songwriting wise, Jerry hit a major peak on this one. Even if you stripped all the fancy stuff away and listened to him play the song on an acoustic guitar, it would rank among the band's finest moments.
And the song is long but all the parts are tightly packaged together; it never drags or overstays its welcome. It's the moment where the band's pop songwriting, ambitious arrangements, and impeccable musicianship came together better than ever before or since, and not a second of the song is wasted.
If you're still wary of the Grateful Dead's studio work but you haven't heard this song, do yourself a favor and change that. Keith first played as a temporary replacement for Pigpen, and then both musicians toured with the Dead simultaneously, but eventually Pigpen's health problems forced him to retire for good in In earlyhe sadly passed, making Wake of the Flood the first Grateful Dead album with the Godchauxs and the first without Pigpen.
It was also the band's first album since their debut without second drummer Mickey Hart, who was on hiatus from the Dead at the time. The Godchauxs brought new sounds and new influences to the Dead, and that's immediately evident on Wake of the Flood. Keith's keyboard playing was more inspired by jazz than Pigpen's bluesy sound, and Donna gave the Dead powerhouse backing vocals for the first time in their career.
Unlike its two predecessors, it didn't produce any charting singles, and it's got its shruggier moments. But Wake of the Album) 's highs can be very high, and they make up for the album being less rock-solid than American Beauty. Though it lacked a big single in the real world, the jazz-rockin' "Eyes of the World" is about as big as it gets in the Deadhead world.
It's a live staple and it's often stretched to twice its length at shows, but this studio version shines too.
The iconic rhythm guitar pattern and the arresting chorus are as dazzling on Wake of the Flood as they are in just about any live recording.
Another Wake of the Flood song that deserved a bigger real-world breakthrough is "Row Jimmy. The atmospheric psych ballad "Stella Blue" is a gorgeous deep cut, and the Beatlesque harmonies of "Here Comes Sunshine" remind you that American Beauty and Workingman's Dead aren't the only albums where the Dead's harmony singing was airtight. And then there's "Weather Report Suite.
The Dead did a lot of interesting stuff in the studio, and among the most interesting -- up there with the '60s psych experiments and the folk songwriting -- are the multi-part prog suites they released in the mid to late '70s. The first of these was "Weather Report Suite. Then new things start to come in.
First gospel harmonies, and then it changes even more, when it switches from its lazy-Sunday first half to the more sinister-sounding "Let It Grow" portion. Keith Godchaux starts pounding on his piano, and Bob Weir finds his voice as a pop songwriter more than he ever had previously.
Then enters the triumphant horns and strings, and it becomes even clearer that the Grateful Dead are in territory they had never been in before They were known for "long songs" because of the way they stretched out their jams live, but this wasn't jamming.
This was an orchestral rock song cycle than rivaled Tommy and side B of Abbey Roadboth in ambition and in how fun it is to listen to. This side of the Dead is an often unsung part of their legacy, and it deserves to be much more widely celebrated. After their humble debut, the Grateful Dead stepped things up a huge notch for their sophomore album Anthem of the Sun. Unlike their debut, Anthem of the Sun saw the Dead channelling the psychedelic experience of their live show in the studio, and while this is not a live album, it does actually include some recordings from live shows.
They spliced them together with studio recordings, and in fact Jerry himself has even referred to the album as a "collage. Jerry's tripped-out, vibrato-y "the summer sun looked down on him From there, Anthem of the Sun takes the Dead through all kinds of addictive, experimental sounds that are unique to this album. The Bob Weir-sung, eight and a half minute "New Potato Caboose" is in-studio psychedelic rock at its finest.
At its core, "New Potato Caboose" is already lazy-Sunday psychedelia and it has Bob Weir giving one of his most stoned vocal performances, but then the band add in sound effects and an array of atypical-for-rock instruments that really take you there. They follow it with the much quicker "Born Cross-Eyed," a two-minute dose of garage psych that might've ended up on Nuggets if the Dead had broken up after this album.
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