By 1972 the name "Jerry Garcia" was pretty well known. He was the leader of a "hippie" band/movement that just made it big with two huge albums. Though I'd say every album before those two fabulous pieces of work (Workingman's Dead
and American Beauty
) were next to perfection, there is no doubt that the two 70's openers were the best you'll here from The Grateful Dead. Other than Garcia being a well known name, The Grateful Dead were as well. They had huge fame, a great cult scene, and even though the days of the San Francisco Haight Ashbury movement had ended they were still goin' steady and rather great.
The Grateful Dead had also been together for about seven years. So, of course the record company put "Keeping The Dead together" as an important subject. For they were at that time a good money maker. So much of one that they told Mr. Garcia that he could make himself a solo album if he wished. Well, of course he said yes. They even gave him 20,000 dollars to do it. And ironic enough, he used a very cheap method to make the record.
Jerry wanted his album to be almost completely solo. Almost all by himself. So, each instrument (minus the drums) was performed by Garcia himself. He also decided to put a few songs that The Grateful Dead would later be known for on the album. One definitely being "Sugaree". Garcia also decided to name the album simply after himself, Garcia of course. And successfully put together a good solid album if you asked me. The album would by many, also be revered as his greatest solo work.
"Deal", a nice, moderate paced, lively Country influenced number. The track is built up with Garcia's playing off bass, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, and some great electric guitar riffing. Billy Kreutzmann's slightly basic beats only do the song good, and the vocals match the groove perfectly. This album is also known for including some of Garcia's best vocal work. Which I could not fight in anyway. Besides making the song enjoyable from start to finish, Jerry manages to toss in some great background pedal steel solos, as well as a single fabulous guitar solos. The tone of the electric is spectacular. The song often reminds me of a tune you might hear in an old time saloon :p. 5/5
Here would be an off enough mix of Psychedelia, Blues, and most of all Country. The sound almost reminds me of "China Cat Sunflower", though the hardly resembles the early Grateful Dead tune. The slightly odd time signatures, combined with the main electric guitar riff and the much different drum beats give the song quite an odd groove. I find there are many highpoints in this track. The chorus' vocals use a recording method called "Stacking". Which would give the harmonies and such a more smooth and together sound. Once again Garcia adds some acoustic guitar, and great bass lines to the mix, but the song does lack his playing of the pedal steel guitar. Which is surprising being that this song is not a full frontal Country Rock tune. The track goes through a variation of tempo changes as well as the other oddities already included, which basically just adds to the jam quality. The think the song is spectacular and definitely as different one. 4.9/5
A Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia classic!! Though this track at first annoyed me, it's nonchalant like feel makes it a definite highlight. The electric guitar playing featured is rather spastic, but in a way not to take lead, but to only add to the song. I also believe a slide is used while playing some of the lead. The background playing acoustic matches the drumming very well, I'm sure the great bass lines only help. I particularly like the lyrics, they very timeless. Nothing fantastically brilliant, (though from Robert Hunter; A brilliant writer), but surely enough to statisfy myself, and to show the main focus is on the groove and flow. Which is great, by the way. Lately "Sugaree" has been one of my favorite song, for your information. 5/5
The song "Loser" has a great sound, that actually kind of gives it an inferred theme. The sound is kind of old Country Western. The lyrics are sang in a pathetic, desperate manner, to match the "Loser" the song is about. At certain points, the lyrics seem to be sang with a touch of arrogance. Which I hear are to make this loser seem like he of course doesn't think of himself as one. The song features each instrument previously used. Including the pedal steel, which is played in a much more rythmic way this time. "Loser" is thought of as both a Grateful Dead classic and a Jerry Garcia classic, and it surely is. The song would definitely not deserve this rating without the theme and the certain attitude and vocal styling used to express the lyrics. 4.8/5
Late for Supper
Here is a short (One minute and thirty seven seconds) psychedelic, possibly filler track. It's actually very interesting to hear. The sounds off pounding organs gaining volume and fading away fill up the beginning of the track. And around the middle, laser beam like sounding effects, and various synth noises do the same as the beginning. The song really isn't anything the should or even could be rated, it's hardly a song.
He is another, more longer, psychedelic/alternative piece, that is relatable to the previous track, "Late for Supper". The song opens with near silence, and builds up with rather erie piano chords. I also believe there is either some kind of keyboard noise in the back or violin. Well, closing in on the end, it is easily noticeable that there is without a doubt some sort of orchestral instrument being played. It sounds as though it is both the violin and an upright acoustic bass being played with a bow. Which I'm sure Jerry Garcia has played in the past. Okay song. 3/5
The previous track "Spidergawd" is a before continuation of "Eep Hour". "Eep Hour" is much more of a song, as well being much more controlled. It is led by some piano playing, and backed up by bass playing, drumming that is most played on the ride cymbal, and some acoustic flat picking that occasionally takes lead. Other than the expected instruments, there is some odd synthesizer patterns playing in the background practically the whole time. Soon, enough the synth almost completely gives out and makes room for a beautiful pedal steel solo. Which (if you didn't know) is a lap steel guitar, attached to a table with pedals that loosen or tighten the strings. The instrument is commonly played with a slide also. Following the pedal steel solo, Jerry tosses in a fantastic matching, beautiful acoustic guitar solo which would end the track. 4.3/5
To Lay Me Down
"To Lay Me Down" is a rather lovely song. It opens with some nice piano playing, that is only supported by some bass paying, as well as some drumming. Soon enough though, some wonderful organ and pedal steel playing enter. When I first heard this album I was happy to hear that Jerry constantly plays the pedal steel, which is always interesting to hear. The vocals are sadly sang, and the lyrics are simplistic, but hold a lot of emotion. The song goes on for six minutes and eight teen seconds; the longest song on the album. It is kept interesting with a couple of great pedal steel solos, each in different tones, with different effects. And just lovely rythmic playing. The song is very jazz influenced. 4.9/5
An Odd Little Place
Another kind of Psychedelic filler number, but more subtle and beautiful. The beauty comes from Garcia's nice piano playing, that takes up space in a very nice way. It's a simple song, easy to listen, has no real point, but has nothing going against it. It runs has a short time of one minute and thirty eight seconds, and is nothing special, but as I basically said before, isn't anything bad. 3.5/5
Here is the ending spasm of the album, well just the beginning. It opens a free Jazz form of playing, and is of course influenced by Jazz. But soon enough it breaks out from that phase and moves directly into a Country sound. The pedal steel takes the lead, and agressively backed up by the acoustic playing. The drumming is very percussion induced, and the vocals are just Garcia's own stacked. The lyrics tell a basic story told by many people, religions, and such on how you should just live you life and try not to be too afraid. "If the bullet don't get ya, the thunder will" gives that message better than anyother on the album. I particularly love the pedal steel work. Jerry really does a good job on this number. Perfect closer. 5/5
Though, the ratings on this album vary from "Garcia's best solo work!" to "Just okay", I'd say the album is fantastic, though not his best. But it surely deserves a 4.9/5.