Grateful Dead album by album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by jacksondownunda, May 8, 2009.

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  1. ron p

    ron p Active Member

    O.k. you encouraged me to write so I'll give this a shot. This is pretty new to me. I have been lurking on this board for years and have loved it and supported it but haven't posted much until recently.

    There has been so much written about the Grateful Dead that it's intimidating to write more. The reason I thought a thread on this board would be so interesting is that it is not comprised of just hard core Grateful Dead fans. Most everything is written for the hard core fan and it's refreshing to get another viewpoint. The problem is that this thread is going to be so long I don't know if only the hard core will read this far. We'll see though, music junkies will read just about anything about music.

    Everyone here is a stone cold music junkie like myself which is why I enjoy it. There are an amazing amount of Beatles fans and fans of all types of music. The Grateful Dead were a band full of music junkies. All of them with the widest variety of musical interests and influences. Once your familiar with their music any kind of music that you like is in there somewhere.

    Now, on to Anthem Of The Sun and this period of the band.

    Anthem is their psychedelic studio masterpiece. Even though it has live music on it I think of it this way. Everyone has their preferences as to what they like. Some people do not like live albums. I absolutely love live albums. If you love live albums, are a music junkie with big ears you are just plain cheating yourself if you don't put the listening time in and check out this band.

    If you're the type that likes studio albums and you like psychedelic or experimental music you should check out Anthem. Like all of this type of music you have to listen to it more than once. All you Beatles fans who love the White Album. Or say Love-Forever changes or Electric Ladyland or Early Pink floyd. This could be a hidden gem that you haven't discovered yet.

    As for the four live releases detailed above they are quite different. I think even more so than at times later in their career you have to be a live music junkie for this stuff. It is the band's first in a series of many live peaks. It's hard to fault any live Dead from 1968-1974. It's like a mountain range full of peaks.

    1968 is a different animal than the other peaks. Some refer to it as 'Primal Dead'. It's like the difference between drinking a beer or drinking Everclear grain alcohol (I think 190 proof?). Or if you've experimented a bit one of those funny cigarets or a tab of acid. This music is seriously potent stuff.

    I think the most easily digested one would be Two From The Vault. You could even argue this is easier on the ears than Anthem actually. Dp 22 Kings Bowl and the Road Trips are ferocious, hardcore jamming Dead at it's finest. The Road Trips is by all accounts one of the best releases and a great buy. If you pick up DP 22 you will just not believe that this music was played in a bowling alley. It sounds like it would be too intense for the Fillmore!

    If you could picture say Jimi Hendrix doing an Electric Ladyland tour. He was such an amazing musician that this psychedelic masterpiece would just open up into a thousand different directions. This is what this era of live Dead sounds like. Anthem of the Sun and their earlier stuff jammed out and opened up. We'll get to it but 1969 is similar but that raw, primal sound really is 1968. Come on, give this stuff a try. You know you want to. Warning however! There is no cure once you get started.
  2. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Okay, thanks that gives me a frame. I’ll keep going ‘til I get the hook.

    Thanks very much Ron. You’re right about oodles having been written already, often making it all too scholarly. I really liked the Scully/Dalton book, simply because it conveyed a sense of fun shared by these guys at the time. Funny little stories do crop up, though. One of my fave images was Blair Jackson’s outtake about the Dead travelling with dozens and dozens of boxes of wildly different sizes, which undoubtedly confounded and discouraged transit inspectors. Then they’d arrive at their hotel and decorate connecting rooms in their own image; the Dead away from home. Another amusing angle was one of the Brightman sisters writing of the Dead being far higher more regularly than most performers would be imagined to be ...and ditto the audience, and ultimately contended that they left a huge wake of apolitical students at the campuses they passed through!

    Ron, you’ve nailed the “try it, you’ll like it, but there is no cure” mindset (and explained why) well known to DeadHeads and feared/dreaded by “civilians”. WYSI can share his “conversion story” if it doesn’t contravene SHF “no-religious discussion” guidelines! Oddly, not only was “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” strangely prophetic, but so was the Dead’s selected name for their publishing company “Ice Nine Music”. Kurt Vonnegut fans will be very aware of his “Cat’s Cradle” tongue-in-cheek sci-fi book, where a military secret tool Ice Nine is unleashed; a molecular crystal of hybrid ice with a far higher melting point than normal ice. Tossed on muddy puddly ground, the area freezes hard and allows tanks and vehicles to pass over it. However, connected to a pond then a creek then a river then the ocean, or touched to the tongue, it all jumps to the far higher melting point and the end of the world as it was ensues. Once one “gets” the Grateful Dead, music as you knew it doesn’t sound the same. I think some of it has to do with music ideas happening simultaneously, and adapting to think “quadraphonically” to take it in. “Rock” music is traditionally built around a predominant rhythm guitar, and Weir prefered to quietly run little improvised fills bridging the point of Garcia’s leads and counter-point of Lesh’s bass (not to mention stereo dual drummers). With Weir taking the backseat, the listener initially hears “mush” but it becomes beautiful music as the mind starts focusing on elements of choice. Dig?
  3. ron p

    ron p Active Member

    Oh, I dig it I do, very well put. I've read just about all of the various books and they are all great and offer something different. David Gans & Blair Jackson stand out though. Anything they put together is just superbly done. You're also right that you just pick up new tidbits somehow constantly. I just read in a Louis Armstrong thread here that Jerry supposedly modeled his tone by Louis' playing. I may have very well have read it but forgotten it. We don't want to start talking about Jerry's tone now though. I think people might think we're all nuts as it is. Hopefully this thread will spur somebody new to pick up on the music. All of the Albums and eras are so different. If you have tried even a couple of releases you may just not have found the right era that will make it click for you.

    Another observation is that to me one of the best places to get into live Dead music is the car. Not a short drive but a long drive, the longer the better. Driving for hours on end in the four corners region and southern Utah may be as good as it gets but any highway ride will do.
  4. Edgard Varese

    Edgard Varese Royale with Cheese

    Te Wai Pounamu
    OK, here goes. :)

    First, I should say that I'm now in the curious position of having to take back everything bad I've ever said about the Grateful Dead. I was a punk rocker back in the 80s (a little behind the curve with everything, I'm afraid) and I looked askance at that tie-dyed bunch that followed this group of old hippies around. My close friends Marc and John were amongst them, as well as quite a few acquaintances, hell even my former professor who got me into grad school was an old time Deadhead, and so of course I got to hear quite a bit by osmosis along the way, and was not impressed. Mushy, no focus... it didn't make sense. Maybe I took the old RS Record Guide review too seriously (remember Dave Marsh said that the Dead's oeuvre was "worthless"). And maybe my ears hadn't developed sufficiently yet.

    Years later I met a woman and we moved in together after a while (that was 12 years ago and we're still married now). She was also a Deadhead, and I kind of (gently) mocked her a bit for it. But at the same time, because she had sold off all her old cds when she left New Zealand, I spent a couple of years buying back all her Dead collection. We'd play some occasionally; I liked "Bertha" - every bar band back home played that one - and I liked a few others, but nothing stuck, still. I thought maybe this was one bus that was going to drive on by.

    Then a while back, maybe a couple of years ago, I popped in a DVD of the Time-Life History of Rock and Roll that my wife had gotten me for my birthday. I started with the late 60s disc, as I do love that period, and the Dead were featured (naturally), playing "China Cat Sunflower". Now that sounded good, and made me start wondering what else might be in those discs. But I sort of forgot about that until several months ago when I dug out my wife's copy of Europe '72 and put on "China Cat". I played the whole thing through after that, and then dug out her copy of So Many Roads (I was a good value fiance, let me tell you...) and played a lot of the first disc, and then rinse and repeat... and I started searching threads here and reading about the Dead. What I was beginning to realize was that it was all falling into place finally, that I was hearing it. The stars had aligned, so to speak, and the true beauty and power of this music was revealed to me for the first time. I spotted DP36 in the used bins a few weeks ago and took the plunge after reading Mike's thread on the series... took it home and spent a week digesting it. There are some achingly beautiful passages on that disc (I'll write more about it when we get there, I promise), but the long and short of all of this is that I've got it. And I think things are going to be a little different from here on out.

    Last week the Mrs. found my copy of DP36 sitting on top of my guitar amp, and sort of half-confronted me with "What are you doing buying a Grateful Dead cd for yourself?" (her birthday isn't for a few months yet). I broke down and told her the whole story, which she found funny and ironic (she was a little put out that I hadn't cottoned on to them for this long, though). Then we put the discs on...
    ceddy10165 likes this.
  5. ron p

    ron p Active Member

    Great story, I envy what your going to end up hearing for the first time but not your wallet! If there is one thing that hits their whole career it's the So Many Roads box. So many gems and great music at a great price. Some would argue that you really need an entire concert but that's a great place for anybody to start. It's well annotated so you can follow up on anything that you like and hear more elsewhere.
  6. Edgard Varese

    Edgard Varese Royale with Cheese

    Te Wai Pounamu
    The Dead are clearly going to be an obsessive's delight, which works out well for me, as I never do anything by halves :angel: . As for my poor wallet, well... :laugh: At least has a lot of shows (legitimately) available for free, and I've already found a few good ones. :thumbsup:
  7. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

  8. bangsezmax

    bangsezmax Forum Resident

    Durham, NC, USA
    I'd just like to add a quick note (I know I'm late for this).

    I remember some band member (Lesh?) saying that the first album had that "Ritalin and hashish sound." Always thought that was a great description.
  9. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Bingo! That's precisely the kind of "perspective history" of the Dead I was fishing for a couple days back. Jerry mentioned this cover painting in one of the Rolling Stone interviews, basically saying "That's how a painter saw us". But as the painter was a good pal of Phil and TC and undoubtedly the rest, the band members would've been very well versed in the concepts and levels and beliefs described and visually interpreted by the painter. The Dead loved to surround themselves with fearlessly "outside" thinkers (Terrence McKenna comes to mind and his psychotropic experiences and theories). Many of their musical/artistic "eras" were undoubtedly formed by much of the arcane knowledge they were purposely exposing themselves to (Hank Harrison mentions their "gnostic" '73 period, or their "Egyptian" pursuits), it's a pity that their music couldn't pass on much more literal descriptions of what they were alluding to. I'd love to see more of these insights appear here. Thanks very sincerely!

    p.s. Regarding car rides and Dead music upthread; You're spot on target with that (even basketball games aren't bad). I found that the outtro jam on live Uncle John's Band is fabulous for incorporating multiple travel trajectories on a busy freeway all in one glance (northbound various lanes and speeds, southbound various lanes and speeds, they guys passing diagonally on the overpass, the simultaneously approaching on the onramp, the boat passing under the bridge, the jet coming in at an angle towards the airport, the two gulls flying past...)
  10. bangsezmax

    bangsezmax Forum Resident

    Durham, NC, USA
    For Anthem, we should note that there are two entirely different stereo mixes for this album. The original mix from '68 and the remix from '71. I grew up on the remix as that was the version available on LP from '71 on. The CD issues all have the original mix from what I've heard (never have owned that one on CD).

    I'm doing some spot listening to both now. So far, I prefer the remix which is much clearer to my ears than the original which sounds as if they had some interesting ideas about the mix that never quite made the translation to vinyl. In the remix, everything sounds more upfront and audible.
  11. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    the amazing duo from 1968.

    Attached Files:

  12. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

    Any or all here might want to reserve a day or two and check out this site devoted to Grateful Dead Lyricist, Robert Hunter and his correspondence with McKenna....


  13. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    by the time of two from the vault, the band had come a long way in a short time. depending on the actual source shows between late 67 to early 68, you're talking anywhere from a 6-9 month difference from those 8/68 shows. they were growing rapidly. it's a great period of development.
  14. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Truckin' Down The Golden Road (Casey Jones you better watch your speed...)

    I just like to add that I am totally enjoy this thread, but feeling tons of pressure to keep up as it is moving along so fast. I just now got The Grateful Dead's first album (in Mono) out and on the turntable to enjoy after a very busy weekend at work. Lord knows what I missed in that timespan, and now I'm off for two days (to SF of all places! :righton:--Aomeba's on Thruday afternoon anyone? :D) and I fear that upon my return we'll have moved on past Live Dead already--which I just discovered I still have a nice Warner Brothers W7 first pressing of... :righton:

    So, my polite request, JDU, would be to inquire if you might slow it down just a tad for us busy bodies wit too much non-dead-mess on our plates... :shake:

    On the otherhand, with all those Dick's Picks to discuss, maybe not, I'll just chime in when I get to me fave studio albums as I struggle to catch up... :winkgrin:

    Great thread, truely fascinating and informative, about one the great, most important, American bands ever... :righton:

  15. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    i guess this kind of thing is expected considering they are possibly the most well documented band. sure lots of other bands have very detailed discographies but as many of them were shorter lived, the results don't come close to these guys. this could be followed by a garcia and related thread with saunders, nrps, jgb, old and in the way, jefferson airplane/starship, etc. etc...
  16. Although the approach of editing live performances and studio recordings together doesn't always work, I think Anthem Of The Sun is a release full of great Dead moments. The original "That's It For The Other One" and "Alligator" are up there with the best live performances of the songs and Jerry Garcia's solos are excellent, more bluesy than usual.
  17. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Before last night it looked like the thread was stiffing, but perhaps posting things at night Australian time gets it lost way down the list in US morning. I'll try to let things breathe now, but with 30 years of official and multiple archive releases some folks are understandably concerned that they'll be dead before the thread's done. (Mr Bill, Live/Dead is great, but you DO have to pickup Anthem sometime as it's quite unique!! ..coming from a friend.)

    Anymore Anthem, anyone? Then howzabout Aoxomoxoa in a day or so, followed next by a slab of Live/Dead era releases?

    Attached Files:

  18. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England
    My Japanese "Anthem".

    Attached Files:

  19. "Take a step back, then another step back ..."

    This thread is great with many excellent posts and such and I too am really enjoying all the work and effort by JDU and all! :righton:

    I'm with Bill on this one ... 12 individual releases (including the first 2 proper studio albums) in 12 days is setting a somewhat blistering pace.

    I was going to post some thoughts on The Grateful Dead (first studio album) the other day but life got in the way of my best laid plans and when I visited the thread on the next day, Anthem was already up and running.

    Some of us are not equally as quick and free to respond as others and we may be pulling out a release not listened to in years so it could take a few days of re-settling into it to respond with a post we feel honest and worthwhile.

    So with great respect to all herein, I humbly state that IMO a slightly slower pace (with releases) may offer the possibility of more inclusiveness for some posters, new and old, further on down the line. :wave:
  20. bangsezmax

    bangsezmax Forum Resident

    Durham, NC, USA
    My 2 cents (as the guy who came late to comment on the first LP) --

    The "classic" records should get long enough for discussion, because that's the stuff that most of us who have listened to the Dead for many years will know by heart. Use each of those records as a milepost on the trip. The later releases of live material (Dick's Picks, From the Vault, etc) from the respective eras should be able to fit nicely into the discussions between those mileposts. Kinda little side conversations.

    My take on the list would be --

    1st LP
    Anthem of the Sun
    Workingman's Dead
    American Beauty
    Skull & Roses
    Europe '72
    Bear's Choice, Vol 1 (the Dick's Picks prototype!)
    Wake of the Flood
    Mars Hotel
    Blues for Allah
    Steal Your Face
    Terrapin Station
    Shakedown Street
    Go To Heaven
    Dead Set
    In the Dark
    Without a Net
    Dylan and the Dead
    Built to Last

    That's 22 albums right there, should keep us pretty busy.

    Other possible considerations (folks might want to weigh in here):
    Ace -- it may be credited to Weir, but it's a Dead studio album.
    Garcia -- only Garcia and Kreutzmann, but classic Dead material
    Reflections -- it may be credited to Garcia, but it's half a Dead studio album

    This is a great idea for a thread. I hope I'll be able to chime in often.
  21. O Don Piano

    O Don Piano Forum Resident

    Anthem remix?

    I was lucky enough to come across a studio burn of the remix of Anthem Of The Sun. Perhaps we can talk about the differences in both mixes?
  22. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Briefly, the instruments and elements are all there on all mixes, so (unlike AoXoMoXoA) there isn't any 'thing' missing from subsequent mixes.

    Essentially, my recollection is that the 1st WB vinyl mix (on drab olive label, with purple cover) was very bassy, and thick with the quaint echo that made 'trippy' (and I don't use that word lightly) albums of that period so endearing.

    The Phil Lesh re-mix (palm tree label, white cover) stripped huge amounts of that echo off which made many licks and nuances more audible, highlighted the highs and lowered the loud bass. So yes, it was drier and easier to hear, though the "feel" was quite different.

    I don't think I'm imagining things, but I think the "back to purple" cover mix a few years later (and now cd mix) is NOT the original mix, but a third mix with all the highs of the white remix now intact, and most of that echo re-instated, making what now sounds like a better sounding 1st mix. Can anyone back or refute that?
  23. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I hear you guys loud and clear. A couple of those very first posts were met with almost stony silence (for a day or two each) which is why I jumped ahead, but now I'm well aware everyone's awake now, so we'll definitely slow it down. Takes pressure off me too, so we're ALL happy.

    I do want to focus on the official albums, though I think I'll still introduce arbitrary "clusters" (like this "Anthem", or "Live/Dead") including Dick's Picks when it might help better illustrate what the band was "doing" at the time, or when a string of live releases (like Anthem shows) is similar enough to invite side-by-side comparisons (if Dick's Picks didn't exist, we'd all be comparing the official releases to nuggets in our cassette collections).

    Though it sounds scary, I definitely want to mention as many of the solo/side projects as possible, at very least as footnotes, because there's a LOT of cross influence. Garcia's 1st solo is undisputedly part of the Dead's repertoire. New Riders Of The Purple Sage with Garcia and Lesh was a big part of the 1970 touring. Though I haven't worked out accurate recording dates, Mickey Hart's "Rolling Thunder" APPEARS to be the earliest recordings of a couple Dead tunes. "It Must've Been The Roses" first appeared on disc on Hunter's 1st solo "Tales Of The Great Rum Runners", Lesh/Lagin's "Seastones", "Lazy Lightning" was on the 1st Kingfish album, etc etc etc. Even the Garcia/Wales or Garcia/Saunders studio and live discs show Garcia learning phrasings and chords later incorporated into his playing (and both Wales and Saunders have played on official Dead recordings).

    Maybe this thread WILL take quite awhile. Might as well sit back and enjoy it. Might as well, might as well.
  24. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    As for these "Anthem" shows, what do you guys make of these side-by-side?

    The 2-14-68 Road Trips 2.2 is by far the most famous tape to circulate (originally from the FM broadcast). This really is the one that established the familiar running order for Anthem (clearly Anthem could've had a much different sequence and songs), as well as a good 8track to overly life bits from other shows(?). They were quite wise to let Dark Star/ChinaCat/The Eleven ferment another year IMO.

    DP22 Lake Tahoe was the first official release. Dick Latvala seemed to usually pursue some off-kilter element in his releases that forced the Dead into creative improvisation mode. I haven't heard it in awhile but I THINK I recall that one of the drummers stops for some reason for awhile in New Potato Caboose, causing some kind of compensating by the others. Despite the lower sound quality, this one is a jammin' delight.

    Ultimately, my fave is the Download 6 from 3/17/68 Carousel Ballroom. Most of Anthem had been appearing since they cranked out Cryptical/O1 (The Other One) at the November 67 LA Shrine shows (not the 2 from The Vault Aug 68), and this is a month further down the track than 2/14/68. "O1" here is blistering, and big recognizable chunks appear on Anthem's abbreviated O1. NPC's tail features the "usual" amazing sailing Garcia guitar lead, still fresh and truly adventurous. The "Caution" clocks in at 20odd minutes and a couple lifetimes seem to be condensed in there. In those days the Dead were reported to leave the hall chuckling to themselves, "Let'm try to whistle THAT!", and it was a heavy dose of mindwarp indeed!

    The "Two From The Vault" LA Shrine Aug 68 is a pristine multi-track of the Anthem suite, with a still-getting-confident Dark Star>St Stephen>Eleven. Ultimately, though IMHO I think they've begun to sound settled into ultimate capabilities and outer limits of NPC (including bass minuet break), and lacks a bit of the sheer reckless adventure of the earlier Anthem shows. I personally think this is why they eventually dumped NPC and delved into the greater freedom realms of Dark Star and the later "opened up" O1's.

    (Now I might spend a good evening with those McKenna/Hunter letters!)
  25. bangsezmax

    bangsezmax Forum Resident

    Durham, NC, USA
    My guess is that there wasn't a third mix (I find no mention of one anywhere), but that the original mix was just mastered differently. My "back to purple" LP (beige WB label from mid-80s) definitely has the re-mix.

    I think the easiest way to tell which one is which is to play the end of side 1 ("Born Cross-Eyed). If there's a big chord at the end, it's the remix. If it fades out, it's the original.

    Here's more on the remix from the Compleat Grateful Dead discography:

    This site appears to have a pretty thorough rundown of the different releases and mixes.

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