ARTIST: The Grateful Dead
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #73
SINGLES: Dupree’s Diamond Blues, China Cat Sunflower
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: St. Stephen, Cosmic Charlie
LINEUP: Tom Constanten, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bob Weir
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Dead moves away from the blues, and into acoustic psychedelia with more success, but one really weird, odd, long cut takes the momentum out of the record.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: My personal favorite Dead song, “St. Stephen”, is on this record, so it must be great, right?
Well…somewhat. There are a lot of fan favorites here, for sure.
A lot of the album works. They move into more of an acoustic phase (though “St. Stephen” is definitely electrical), and use quite a few studio tricks, etc. on the voices. It’s pretty mellow for the most part, like the buzz you have right before you hit the sack.
But man, “What’s Become of the Baby” just ruins the second side. That’s one bad trip that probably should have been avoided. The Dead wasn’t known for great quality control, though. It’s a shame, because could have been their first cohesive record.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album cost a lot to make, as they moved from an eight-track to a 16-track studio in the middle of it.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live cuts and a couple of jams.
GRADE: B+: When you have eight tracks, one brilliant, several good, and one absolute disaster (which is the longest running time of any cut), you have to knock it down a bit.