Around the mid sixties in the the city of San Fransico, California, five teens to early twenties men got together to form a band that would soon gain world fame and be praised by millions. Before world fame, and before the release of their first album, the soon to be Warlocks were connected in seperate ways. Jerry Garica had worked in the same music shop with Pigpen. Garcia also taught guitar lessons to young Bob Weir. Weir was a friend of young drummer Billy Kreutzmann. And Pigpen and Jerry also happened to be great friends with music major Phil Lesh, who was also the only member to ever even finish high school.
Before each member would get together to play coffee houses and "Acid Tests" (Parties based around the use of acid, and music) as The Warlocks and The Grateful Dead. Three of them were in a band with each other already. Garcia, Weir, and Pigpen were in a Bluegrass jugband known as Mother McCree's Uptown Jugband Champions, which lasted a short amount of time.
Soon enough all the members would join and form The Warlocks, which would then be switched to The Grateful Dead. It would be two years until they released their first album. Till then they would be playing parties, coffee houses, and acid tests, as I said before.
Though, this album is not The Grateful Dead's best, in my opinion. And I doubt that most think it's their best, but either way it does show a side of The Grateful Dead that is rarely seen, and possibly only seen on this album. These are songs coming from seven men (Including managers Rock Scully and Danny Rifken) who live in the same home, do endless amounts of drugs, are poor, and mooch money off of their friend Owsley Stanley III (who is basically known as the father of acid) to buy equipment. The music is highly influenced with combined genres of Bluegrass, Folk, Blues, Rockabilly, Country, Psychedelia, ect. Many of the songs are also old covers, which gives off a sense that The Grateful Dead have a strong knowledge of music, and history. Hope you enjoy :)
I can't think of a more inviting, good feeling, and happy song to open an album with. This psychedelic, oddly happy tune is put together with Pigpen pounding on the organ, the guitars more "noodling" than playing, and the bassing and the drumming playing all over the place. The vocals also seem very urgent, yet happy. And the lyrics basically inbody the sixties if you stop and think about it for a second. It includes a guitar solo that just seems to jump out of no where, very similar to The Kinks "All day and All night" except it is more chaotic and uncontrolable. This song brings a smile to my face every time I listen to it. 5/5
Beat it on down the Line
"Beat it on down the Line" seems like it would fit better in the 50's than 1967. It has a great flow, that the backing vocals match perfect with. It's just an other extremely great feeling songs, with some great vocals by Garcia, and a fabulous solo. Which also seems to come out of no where. The song is a cover, and was originally written by Jesse Fuller, and is just timeless. And is definatley one of my favorites. 5/5
Good Mornin' Little School Girl
This song includes a great flow, and some very odd, and obscure lyrics, that give off a very offensive feeling. The song is very Bluesy, and is sang with great emotion. I particularly like the drumming, and Pig's Bluesy singing, and fabulous harmonica solos. Now this is an extremeley odd song, the reason why is because it is about lust, and it is sang by Pigen. Now, I'll show a picure of Pigpen and let you judge how you would feel if he was singing about your young school daughter. 4/5
Cold Rain and Snow
Here is a choppy song with high pitched guitar playing, and some great organ playing. Compare to some other songs on this album, it doesn't particulary stand out, but it's not bad. It's just kind of mediocre. 3.5/5
Sitting on Top of the World
Now, I'm sure most of you have heard a version of this song, whether it was by Cream on Wheels of Fire
, or whatever. It was written by Walter Jacobs and Tim Rose and is oftenly covered. In my opinion, The Dead do it great. The song has some great guitar solos (As usual), and the songs flow extrodinarily well. I'd pick this version over Cream's anyday. 4/5
Cream Puff War
"Cream Puff War" is supposebly the first song Jerry wrote while with The Grateful Dead. The songs combines many different speeds, feelings, and tempoes. It is led by Pig's organ, and it includes Jerry singing. It's a Blues influenced song, and seems to be more influenced by British Blues than American Blues. I do love Lesh's approach on playing the bass as a lead instrument (Which shows in this song), just like Jack Bruce. It's odd how much Cream and The Grateful Dead have in common. 3.5/5
Here is another cover that flows well, and is oftenly covered by other bands. Garcia and Weir's playing intertwines very well, similar to how they do it on "Friend of the Devil". Each member's playing really seems to bounce off of each other on this number, and the vocals are done very smoothly. "Morning Dew" is probably the more epic track on the album compared to all the other songs. Great song :) 4/5
New, New Minglewood Blues
I actually really like this song, it's kind of like a beach tune. The vocals are sometimes shouted. And it has a great line "My number one occupation is stealing women from their men". It is of course led by the organ which gives it a nice psychedelic sound, like many of their other songs. And of course the song contains some great guitar solos. It also has another great leading line, which is "I was born in a desert, raised in a lion's den" which always seems to get stuck inside my head. 5/5
Many would say this is the best track on this self titled album. Though, I believe it is a great songs, I wouldn't say that. It's a cover, and was originally written by Noah Lewis. The lyrics are completley sang in unisen, which The Grateful Dead are known to do time to time. The solos on this track are really toned down, and very bluesy. The song also really seems like it was recorded live, in The Dead's natural habitat. 4.5/5
I'm going to give this album a 4/5, for the reason that it shows how diverse The Grateful Dead are, and because it shows how great they are musically. It also shows a side of them which was rarely seen, if never seen. So, buy this album :thumb:
Ron "Pigpen" Mckernan - Organ, Harmonica
Bill Kreutzmann - Drums