This is the Dead's first live album release and their best. Released in 1969, this album was meant to capture the energy of The Grateful Dead onstage, which is truly amazing. This album features some dead classics such as "Dark Star", "St. Stephen", and their fabulous cover of "Turn On Your Love Light". In my opinion the only other Grateful Dead Live album that rivals this one is Skull & Roses. When you listen to the twenty three minutes of Dark Star you start to drift off into this strange world as Jerry takes you away with his amazing guitar lead but you really never get bored of it.
This is the first Grateful Dead album that I ever purchased and I can say that when I first listened to it, I was ten years old at the time, I listened to it once or twice lost interest in it and I guess I sort of let it sit somewhere in my living room where it received minimal play from me or my parents. About a year later I bought American Beauty after listening to my Dad's copy on vinyl. Well, once that happened I dug this cd out and put it on and I began to appreciate it much more. In fact it became one of my favorite albums. I guess one could say that American Beauty brought me to The Dead but Live/Dead just made me a Deadhead. This album defines who the Grateful Dead were, this is what their concerts were like, and this is how awesome that these guys could jam. Well, I guess I let myself get off topic, here's the track by track review.
1. Dark Star
- The album starts out with this Twenty-Three Minute long epic. This is really the Quintessential Grateful Dead song. When people went to Grateful Dead concerts this was the song that made everyone wild when they played it. There were countdowns in San Francisco from the last time that Dark Star was played in their town. Anyway, the song starts with that ever so classic riff and leads into the great ambient vocals that make the song even better. The Jam on this song is very interesting, the famous lead guitar just kind of weaves you in and out of the song.
2. St. Stephen
- Just as you are easing during Dark Star the band brings you up for this Bright Song. The Vocals and lyrics are probably my favorite aspect of this song. This song isn't nearly as Jam heavy as the previous song it is mostly dependent on the vocals. Later in the song the band kind of plays a lot lighter while the vocals take over the entire song.
3. The Eleven
- The band starts into a heavier Jam on this track. The percussion seems to stand out the most to me throughout this song. The guitar playing on this song is a lot more gutsy than the playing on dark star. The band is also playing a lot tighter. Much later in the song the vocals take over the song and in my opinion sound excellent, the coordination of the vocal parts at that part of the song seems just perfect to me.
4. Turn on Your Love Light
- One of my favorite dead songs, The whole band lightens as the vocals take over the song and eventually lead you into some great guitar solos. It seems like that one vocal part just seems to have such a great effect, "Without a warning you broke my heart, takin' it baby, tore it apart And you left me standin' in the dark, said your love for me was dyin'". This is another classic concert song for them. The backing vocals near the middle of the song are very effective.
5. Death Don't Have No Mercy
- Starts with some fantastic guitar playing with a very slow rhythm that feels a little Jazzy. This is one of the more depressing Grateful Dead songs as the title might hint. The organ playing really stands out on this track. The Jam on this track is probably my favorite because it is a very Blues based Song.
- The song is pretty much just what one would think from reading the title. It is pretty much just sounds of feedback from the guitars and other random sounds that are syncopated together to form a Jam. The Noises are actually pretty eerie. The Dead used to do this a lot at their Live shows. At first one would probably get annoyed at this but after some listening it really just fits in with the rest of the record.
7. And We Bid You Goodnight
- A great way to end a concert. The song sounds very familiar as to what is heard on the O' Brother Where Art Thou movie.
I tried my best to do justice to this excellent piece of musicianship. This album is really a landmark in music. There was really nothing before similar to it and it introduced the world to a band that could be solely based on Jamming and improvisation at their concerts. I would really reccommend this album to newcomers of The Dead and long time fans alike.