2 of 2 thought this review was well written
The album The Grateful Dead decided to record in 1973 had to be good. They had just came out with numerous hits and perfect albums in previous years. But making another Workingman's Dead
or another American Beauty
is next to impossible. So, The Grateful Dead just decided to put some of their well known live performances on record. All but one. Cause, if they were great on stage, the chances of making a satisfying album is high. So, they did. And succeed in my opinion.
During 1973, The Grateful Dead lacked drummer Mickey Hart. Who had taken a leap of absence due to his father. Lenny Hart, who along with Mickey and his mother was a drummer. In fact, he was a well known competition drummer. Who had won various competitions in his prime. But as of this time, he was an accountant and lawyer. A very well known, account and lawyer in fact, who's reputation was quite high. So, The Grateful Dead thought it'd be a smart decision to accept Lenny Hart's offer it manage the band financially. Oddly enough though, a short time later, Lenny snuck off with a load of their money. And Mickey felt that it was his fault, so he quit for a while. And has yet to come back, during this era of The Grateful Dead.
The Grateful Dead's original keyboardist and harmonica player Ron "Pigpen" McKernan also died before this recording. So, he was replaced by Keith Godchaux. Keith made it into the band by his wife Donna. Donna approached Jerry Garcia and announced that her husband was good enough to be Pigpen's replacement. Next, Keith jammed with the band, and of course became a member. As well, Jerry acknowledged Donna Jean Godchaux's vocal ability. So, they added her to backing vocals. Other than this being the Godchaux couples debut, Keith also wrote a song on the album. "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away", which I believe is quite good.
Also, around this time The Grateful Dead were progressing not only musically, but in a business sense (Minus the robbery :p). They had started to produce and make there own records on their independent label. For group efforts, they'd release their material off of "Grateful Dead Records". For solo efforts, they would released all of the material off of "Round Records".
Wake of the Flood
is with out a doubt a Grateful Dead gem. The compositions within the album, are greater than any other. The album is filled with emotion, and influence. Some newfound influence in fact. Jerry at the time was starting to get into Jazz guitarist. Particularly ones coming from him father's home land, Spain. Other than those Django Reinhardt, and Wes Montgomery were very large influencea on Wake of the Flood
. The influence is mainly shown on the three part album conclusion "Weather Report Suite". The album contains very few low points, and even the low points have minor problems, Like "Here Comes Sunshine" being one hundred time better live than it is recorded. But none the less, I have enjoyed this album since the first time I listened to it.
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
This opening was written to reflect the groups "Jug Band" era. A "Jug Band" is an collection of musicians that play Roots music, like Blues and Country, but most importantly Bluegrass. The band usually plays simple instruments, like washboard and kazoo. But Banjo, Guitar, Fiddle, and Bass are also included. Garcia, Weir, and Pigpen were once in one together. The band was Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champs. They released an album in the early 60's with many traditional. It was also live. The song does not sound exactly like a Jug Band, but it contains many of the same elements. Vassar Clements' fiddle adds much to this catchy, sad Country tune. Vassar played with Garcia in Old & In the Way for those who did not know. The track is an odd one. It goes through many sections, some sad, some happy. The chorus is always one I get stuck in my head. Very catchy, and fantastic composition. 5/5
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away
Keith Godchaux's happy Blues song. It opens with a great beat, and is lead by a wailing saxophone. Keith's voice is pretty good, and quite deep. The song hadn't been performed live before this album, unlike most the others. Keith's wonderful piano skills also grace the song. Like the previous track, it is quite catchy, and hard to forget. Jerry's lead playing is quite subtle, and rarely takes lead, but each outburst is fantastic. The sound is very clean also. I particularly love the overall sound of the combination between the piano, saxophone, and Bob Weir's rhythm guitar. 4.5/9
"Row Jimmy", a passionate, timeless track. The song's beautiful lyrics are sang by Garcia, and too many, it is one of his signature songs. However, I do not. The song is lead by Phil Lesh's popped bass line. And largely complemented by Keith's organ and Billy's drumming. "Row Jimmy" has obvious Gospel influence which has been seen a good amount throughout The Grateful Dead catalogue. The chorus makes the song for me. It's beautiful in unison vocals, really stick out. Supposably, each member's voice is used for the chorus, including Donna Jean's. Who undoubtedly has the most talented voice in the bunch. During different points of time during the track, Jerry tosses in a few solos. Each suit the song very well if you ask me. Extremely beautiful. 5/5
The second ballad so far would of course be "Stella Blue". Which is a for sure fan favorite and a well known Grateful Dead ballad. Jerry's vocals, suit the beautiful tune very well. The overall vibe is like no other I've heard from this band. The lyrics tell a story of love, and sadness. The sadness can ever be implied just by the backing vocals and Garcia's passionate lead singing. It took a while for me to start to love this song, but needless to say it has and I'm a fan of it now. 5/5
Here Comes Sunshine
Here is a rather happy song, that is exceptionally better live than it is recorded, Though the recording is fabulous, The track reminds me of a Beatles song, particularly "Baby You're a Rich Man". "Here Comes Sunshine" is lead by a mix of guitar and percussion, I believe. Garcia's vocals tell story of a brighter day ahead from various problems, such as a flood. The song is fantastic, but is a lot better live, as I already said. I also slightly dislike the chorus. It's to plain and simple, but the verses are some of my favorite on the album. 4.7/5
Eyes Of The World
Probably one of the most covered Grateful Dead songs. And it's not a surprise why. The song is definitely a classic, and very nice to listen to, The song has a great beat to it as well as it being catchy. I also love the timing of each instrument. I cannot find any errors in the playing at all. The verse has a new sense to it. Definitely like nothing The Grateful Dead has done before this album, but the chorus reminds me of some of their music in the sixties. Which is good, because I really like The Dead in that particular era. Instrumentally, the song does take many risks, but as I said, there is nothing wrong with the playing. The timbale work by Benny Velarde is exceptional and adds a bunch to the song. Fantastic song. 5/5
Weather Report Suite
This three part and thirteen minute epic shows another side of The Grateful Dead. Jerry's newly found Spanish guitar skills finally come into play. They open the song very beautifully, and keep the track interesting throughout. Keith's keyboard playing adds much, and gives an almost pedal steel guitar noise. Bob Weir sings the tune with a great relation to the lyrics. The song is based upon the concept of weather, obviously. Though the song is quite long, (Even longer than a good amount of live Dead songs) it is kept interesting throughout. Which is truly an accomplishment. I also see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young influence all throughout the song. Very, very, good song. And without a doubt an underrated Grateful Dead song. A perfect conclusion! 5/5
This is for sure The Grateful Dead's most progressive album, and I would give it a 5/5, but I'm starting to try to be more harsh on the ratings. So, the album in my opinion deserves a 4.9/5
Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar
Bob Weir - Rhythm Guitar
Phil Lesh - Bass
Bill Kreutzmann - Drums
Keith Godchaux - Keyboards
Donna Jean Godchaux - Vocals
Vassar Clements - Violin
Bill Atwood - Trumpet
Joe Ellis - Trumpet
Martin Fierro - Alto & Tenor Saxophone
Sarah Fulcher - Vocals
Matthew Kelly - Harmonica
Frank Morin - Tenor Saxophone
Pat O'Hara - Trombone
Doug Sahm - 12 String Guitar
Benny Velarde - Timbales