The Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead


5.0
classic

Review

by Badmoon USER (65 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist


There is truly nothing more "Grateful Dead" than hearing The Grateful Dead play live. Being a Jam Band, and just a band based upon live performances, you can be sure at least each live album the band puts out, it'll be at least satisfactory. Especially this album. Skull and Roses' actual name is The Grateful Dead, but of course their is already a self titled Grateful Dead album. So, the album is most commonly referred to as "Skull & Roses" or even "Skullfuck".

During this time period of The Grateful Dead, they were going through many difficult times. During the recording of American Beauty family members of both Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia passed away. Pigpen was becoming very thin and sick from bad drinking habits. He would die in a short amount of time. Mickey Hart was going through despression problems. For his father Lenny Hart had been covering the band's financial problems, and just ran off with a boat load of their money. So, of course Mickey blames himself, therefore quitting the band for a time period. And on top of those problems, The Grateful Dead had to come up with a flow up to Workingman's Dead, and American Beauty; two extremely amazing and perfect albums.

So, they figured a live album couldn't hurt. Then they of course put one out. One that combined live songs from three different concert venues (Fillmore East, Manhattan Center and Winterland), on several different days. The album is quite extraordinary if you ask me. It is filled up with covers from artists ranging from Merle Haggard to Chuck Berry. Bob Weir takes lead vocals on most of these tunes, and all of the covers (minus "Big Boss Man"). There are few originals in the bunch, but each are fabulous songs. The originals being Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's amazing epic and enigmatic piece, "Wharf Rat". Their moderately speeded "Bertha", that is always a joy to listen to. "The Other One" filled with a great long drum solo by Billy Kreutzmann. And finally Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, and Robert Hunter's fantastic "Playing in the Band".

Bertha
One of the greatest misheard lyrics lie right here in this song. "I had a hard time, runnin' from your window" is what the lyrics actually are. However, they sound like "I had a hard-on, running from your window" :lol:. Jerry Garcia sings this great opener. It is extremely upbeat and happy. The guitar playing isn't the most technical, but the lead and rhythm chord progression flows well. As does Jerry's lead runs, especially how they intertwine with Weir and Lesh's solid bass and rhythm lines. The chorus is the highlight for me. It brings the song to quite a change, but adds great in unison harmonies. Garcia gives a great solo at about three minutes and forty five seconds in, and keeps the jam alive to a great extent. This song is just perfect to me. it posses one of the sounds I commonly associate with The Grateful Dead. 5/5

Mama Tried
This Merle Haggard cover is with out a doubt a favorite cover of mine, and a highlight on the album. Merle Haggard is a Country artist, who of course wrote this track and did a **** well job performing it also. But this rendition is just spot on. Bob Weir lends his vocals to this upbeat tune, with depression filled lyrics. I always love when positive harmonies and vocal styling are added to sad songs or lyrics. The lead guitar playing is some of the best on the album as is the bass line used. The chorus is quite a strong one, that basically states the thesis of the song. "I turned twenty one in prison, doing life without parole. No one could steer me right, but Mama tried, Mama tried. Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied. That leaves only me to blame 'cos Mama tried." So, if you haven't picked up on what the song is about yet. It is about a boy who obviously could not be tamed. His father died, and his mother worked very hard to discipline him, but it of course did not work. 5/5

Big Railroad Blues
Here is a catchy tune, with interesting and catchy vocals by Jerry Garcia. The song is once again a cover, and is about problems during childhood. The opening lyrics "Well, mama told and my papa told me..." give an obvious clue right from the beginning. Very soon after a short amount of singing Garcia throws a great energetic solo into the mix. Bob Weir's rhythm styling has always intrigued me. It is different than the standard rhythm formula, but I cannot point out what exactly is so unique about it. The chorus in this track is quite good. It's simple (group singing), but the mix of the guitar playing and the drumming give of a great sound. Pretty good song, not a highlight at all though. 4.3/10

Playing in the Band
"Playing in the Band" is a very popular tune to Deadheads. It is always played live, and is always good. It is actually not even really a Grateful Dead song. It was off of Bob Weir's first solo effort Ace, but featured each member of The Grateful Dead as his backing band. Some other known Grateful Dead live tracks came off of that album. Some being "Black Throated Wind", "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues", "One more Saturday Night" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told". All together showing how much of a productive and needed member Weir is of The Grateful Dead. "Playing in the Band" was actually written by Weir, Hart, and Robert Hunter, rather than his common writing partner, John Barlow. The recorded version of this song is amazing and no live version could ever live up to it, but each version is fantastic. The tune goes through many tempo changes, and sang with a great attitude. And the chorus is mighty catchy. Great, great song! 5/5

The Other One
This mostly drum solo filled song opens with some guitar playing that fades into the song, opposed to out. From there the song goes right into a drum solo. The solo is filled with some great tom work and some interesting grooves. I'm not much of a fan of drum solos, especially long ones, but I not going to judge it badly because there is a drum solo. The song is actually eighteen something minutes long, and after about seven minutes some guitar playing adds in an with about three seconds to spare, Weir comes in with some vocals. There are many great key and tempo changes, that easily show the jamming skill of The Grateful Dead, but the song gets a little tedious to listen to. 2.9/5

Me & My Uncle
"Me & My Uncle" is a cover of John Philips from The Mamas and The Papas. It is also one of Bob Weir's Cowboy/Old Western songs that he sings and usually covers. The song is pretty dark and fast paced. The vocals are fantastic as are the lead guitar parts. The story inside of the lyrics are about a boy who travels to different destinations with his uncle. They in counter various escapes, and problems. And the song has one of the best endings ever. Following a poker game with a couple of rough Cowboys in Colorado, there's fight. The tough Cowboys accuse the boy's uncle of cheating, and of course has. So, as bullets fly across the air "My uncle grabbed the gold", "And we hightailed down to Mexico.".The boy then concludes all that his uncle has taught him so much. "Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold. And I left his dead *** there by the side of the road. Yawww!!". Fabulous song, one of my favorites. 5/5

Big Boss Man
Pigpen sings this number. His deep rugged voice suits the song perfect. Pigpen grew up listening to the Blues, and so this song is basically him. It's about a man havin' trouble with his boss. And the lyrics "You ain't so big, you just tall. That's about all." Match up with his appearance perfectly. He basically looks like a Hell's Angel, incase you hadn't known. I for one, am easily bored by Blues. However, I have never been bored by The Grateful Dead, nor Blues Traveler's form of the Blues. Therefore, I actually like this song. It's filled with two of Pigpen's great harmonica solos, and a toned down solo from Garcia, while the others keep a steady Blues rhythm. Good song, I prefer much other Pigpen songs though. 4.5/5

Me & Bobby McGee
Who hasn't heard this song? More specifically, who hasn't heard Janis Joplin's cover of this song. The original was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster. Of course Bobby is a unisex name, therefore The Grateful Dead can perform the song like Joplin did, without confusion of The Dead being homosexuals. The song is not half as good as Joplin's, but it is very good to listen to. And I also believe this is how the song was supposed to be performed. Slow, and mellow, which is what they do with it. It is filled with some soothing solos, I the bass lines are fantastic. Great performance. 4.9/5

Johnny B. Goode
Once again a very well known original The Dead covered. They actually covered a couple of Chuck Berry songs, beside this one. The band really brings some energy to this track. not just the guitar playing, but Weir's singing. The sound is fantastic, and is very similar to Chuck Berry's minus a few signature jams and such The Grateful Dead add. Of course the song is filled with excitement, with out it any form of this song would suck. I believe Garcia does a great job of getting the sound Berry uses. Through his solos, interludes, and even the opening can be mistaken for Chuck Berry if you ask me. Fabulous cover. 4.9/5

Wharf Rat
"Wharf Rat" surely is one of The Grateful Dead's most underrated tracks, and one of their best. It is extremely epic, fabulously written and perfect in all ways. The lyrics tell a story of a dirt bag. Though a misunderstood alcoholic. He goes by the name of "August West". "August" representing the end of bliss (like the end of summer), and "West" representing his good times coming to an end (like where the sun sets). The only love he has greater than his wine is his love, Pearly Baker. "Pearly Baker" was actually the name of a Reverend for prohibition back in the Prohibition days. So, the reference in the writing is fantastic. The music is erie and fits the vibe exactly. Garcia plays the role of August West, and sings it as though he is August West. "At some points in the song their is trick writing" Robert Hunter once pointed out. The song switches view points on occasion. The song's highlight in my opinion would be this one line, "Half of my life! Spent doin' time, for some other fucker's crime." "Other half found me stumblin' 'round drunk on Burgundy wine.". Overall, this song is beyond amazing. 5/5

Not Fade Way/Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad
The opening section to this song ("Not Fade Away") should be familiar to us all. "I'm goin' to tell ya how it's goin' be. You're goin' to give your love to me. I want to love ya all night and day. You know our love will not fade way. You know our love will not fade way. Not fade Way!". From there until the next verse, energetic guitar interludes fill up the time. As well does some great bass playing by Phil. After the second verse Jerry gives an okay solo that fills up a great deal of time. After some time, the song switches to "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad". The lyrics don't fit the music. The music is happy, the lyrics are not. Which is interesting to hear. The story has always made me believe that this song is about a nomad shuned away from his home or love. Nice tune 4/5

Well, I believe this album deserves a 5/5, but if you think a 4.9/5 or something else is more deserving. Think of the rating as that.

Band
Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bob Weir - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - Organ, Harmonica, Vocals
Phil Lesh - Bass, Vocals
Bill Kreutzmann - Drums

With
Merl Saunders - Organ (On tracks #1, #4 & #10)



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user ratings (72)
Chart.
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excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
November 4th 2004


200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good Reveiw maybe Ill download Me & My Uncle

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
November 4th 2004


200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

By the way I dont have any psychdellic Dead (Except Anthemn for the Sun) can you give me any suggestions on where I should start?

Dark Hero
November 4th 2004


160 Comments


Great review :thumb: Now bring this to musicdiscussion.

Bartender
Emeritus
November 4th 2004


826 Comments


Good review (you're back up to 38 ). I really need to get around to properly checking out the Dead.

Broken Arrow
November 4th 2004


220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review :thumb:

Me and My Uncle is my favourite Dead song.

Who is the little man in the front row of that picture?

Badmoon
November 4th 2004


384 Comments


Thanks everyone

And that's Pigpen, I said he was getting really skinny.

[QUOTE=Schyma000]By the way I dont have any psychdellic Dead (Except Anthemn for the Sun) can you give me any suggestions on where I should start?[/QUOTE]

Get Aoxomoxoa. It has a lot more diverse Psychedelic songs that aren't all 18 minutes long :p

Broken Arrow
November 4th 2004


220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do think you could send me the song wharf rat?

I have been meaning to ask you for a long time but my computer with AIM has been broken.

Badmoon
November 4th 2004


384 Comments


Yeah, go on AIM.

I'll sample for anyone if anyone would care.

AIM - badmoon349

keep on phishin'
November 4th 2004


71 Comments


Great Great CD and review.

The extended version of this album...Ladies and Gentlemen..Live at the Fillmore is my all time favorite Dead release...which is saying alot.

Wharf Rat and Betha are easily my favorites off here.

Kingadamx
November 24th 2004


120 Comments


This is my favorite Grateful Dead Live Album and one of my favorite albums of all time. The problem with a lot of the dead's live material is that sometimes it just gets a little too spacy for me by the end of the show. But the good thing with this album is that it was recorded on three different nights so the whole album sounds very upbeat and progressive for the most part.

The sound of this album is really what I like to associate with the Grateful Dead. When I think of the Dead as a band I think of this album. This is the kind of sound that they were going for when they started. They wanted a Folk/Country style with psychedelicly extended jams, and that is what come out of this album.

Keep up the Good Work Badmoon!

Jimmy
March 11th 2007


717 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a great live album. Highlights are Bertha, Mama Tried, Wharf Rat and the ending medley of Not Fade Away > Goin Down the Road. There are better versions of most of these songs out there in the bootlegs, but all the performances are great, and the mixing job rhino has done with these new releases is nothing short of fantastic.

Some of the songs are weaker and may not be as appreciated by non dead heads... for example Johnny B. Goode and The Other One. For a dead head, this album is a no brainer, but for everyone else Europe '72 would be a better introduction.This Message Edited On 03.11.07

pissbore
May 6th 2013


9934 Comments


bertha is so fuckin good

Pestiferous
May 6th 2013


1343 Comments


big boss man m//

Psobesri
July 7th 2013


291 Comments


fun fact: album was originally going to be called "Skull Fuck"

Titan
July 7th 2013


5715 Comments


dontcha come around here, ne more

Psobesri
July 7th 2013


291 Comments


i am on mah bended kneez

Titan
July 7th 2013


5715 Comments


i had to moooooooooooooohooooooooooove




really had to moooove



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