C2S8CD10 Picked by Carole McLeod, Queen of Excel Spread Sheets and ERDF outputs!!
I only really got into the Grateful Dead about 6 years ago, before that I had been ignorant of The Dead dismissing them as 24 hour stoners who’s music could only be appreciated if you had taken copious amounts of drugs!. I’m not sure what changed my mind, I’m guessing an article in a magazine but I have amassed a small collection of standout studio albums and killer live albums which usually come in 3 or 4 CD box sets. As is my usual practice I started to delve into the back history of The Dead and found this album, which interested me due to its lack of Grateful Dead songs rather than because of them. Jerry Garcia was one of the main stays of The Grateful Dead and to most the most prominent member. Anybody who likes ice cream will know than Ben & Jerry’s named a flavour after him (Cherry Garcia) such was their love for the band and the man.
Recorded in 1980 it again covers 3 CD’s and spans just short of 3 hours. We only get 16 tracks but most weigh in at over 10 minutes long, so you get your monies worth. This is a band comfortable in their own abilities enjoying themselves and putting on a show honouring some of their favourite musicians whilst throwing in the odd original.
Bob Dylan has said that the best interpreter of his music was Jerry Garcia,and here we get a good couple of classic Dylan covers, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door is given a reggae makeover lasting 14 minutes and lesser know Simple Twist Of Fate an extended jam lasting 18 minutes. Although the band is only four members big the sound is very full with Garcia playing both back fill and lead guitar with real flare. Disc 2 is my favourite it opens with soul classic How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You stretched again to just over 10 minutes, but it’s the next 3 tracks that make this album for me, J.J. Cale’s After Midnight merges into an instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby and then back into After Midnight it all lasts 23 minutes and is beautifully played out by the band.
Garcia’s influence on other bands that I love, Dave Matthews Band, Phish and Gov’t Mule is there to be seen (2 of them have been honoured with Ben and Jerry ice cream flavours) with all 3 bands extending tight studio tracks into extended versions allowing the bands to spread their musical wings. Jam bands are a North American phenomenon I have a book called exactly that (Jam Bands) that lists the important ones, it has never really caught on in the UK for some reason.
If you like good music played then this album might be for you, but I appreciate that this review might have some of you running for your punk albums wishing the Spirit of 76 would once again rise up and get rid of all this hippy crap!!