The Grateful Dead's In the Dark
was their turning point. The album that brought them out of a slump. Well, at least a slump that critics believed was there. I actually believe most of their "Slump" albums were exceptional, and one fantastic. That one being there catchy Shakedown Street
. Well, either way critics were right one on thing, this is a quality album. Filled with excitement, influence, and just great jams.
The album has always sounded very fresh to me. Mainly Garcia. He supposably had to relearn much of what he had known on guitar, being that he lost much memory from a near fatal drug overdose. It could be The Grateful Dead's third official keyboardist Brent Mydland. Who really came into his own on this album. Even though he had been with The Grateful Dead since 1979. He would also soon die in 1990 and would be replaced with the fourth official Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick, and in and out player Bruce Hornsby.
Surely, there are some standout tracks on In the Dark
. One being the mellow top forty hit "Touch of Grey" which shows the fresh sense Garcia has gained back in his playing and vocals. Other's being John Barlow and Bob Weir's "Hell in a Bucket". And various others.
Touch of Grey
A for sure Grateful Dead classic. And also one of their few Reggae influenced numbers (Others being "Scarlet Begonias" and "Fire on the Mountain"). The song is very mellow, and has a great full sound to it. The lyrics are tremendous also. Garcia sings them and speaks of getting by in life without worry. "I will get by" supports my last comment easily. The lyrics give great and pleasing examples of problems that should not be worried about. some being "The kid can't read, and he's seventeen. The words he knows are all ubscene, but it's alright.". So, the lyrics are very careless and upbeat. The songs also includes a great music video. That gives a great visual of what The Grateful Dead would look like if they were actually dead (skeletons). Amazing song, and **** catchy! 5/5
Hell in a Bucket
"Hell in a Bucket", like a few others on In the Dark, bring The Grateful Dead back to their beginning sound. Which of course would be Rock n Roll with great signs of Blues (and Psychedelia, which isn't included). The song is very strait foreword, and once again speaks about being more careless. "I may be going to Hell in a Bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride!." again supports the main idea of song, and so far the album's concept. The guitar playing lead more towards a Hard Blues Rock Sound than The Dead's most known, lighter sound. The track also includes various sound effects, that don't really add anything great, but don't hurt. Pretty good song. 4/5
When Push Comes to Shove
Here's a nice moderately speeded tune. Garcia's vocals seem fabulous, and mix well with Mydland's hugely Jazzed influence piano playing. Each instrument jells together very nicely. So, nicely the song doesn't even need a solo, but has a guitar solo by Jerry and does so much. The groove is fantastic and gets better with every listen. One of my favorite tunes. 5/5
West L.A. Fadeaway
This song has a very erie and urban sound. Garcia's vocals are very mysterious and Bluesy. The song basically follows the common Blues chord progression, but is jazzed up with great percussion, odd guitar effects, as well as the occasional vocal effect. Which brings an interesting change to the album. Jerry tosses in quite a matching solo also, I particularly like where it is placed. Just in the right spot.
The lyrics are interesting, but certainly not one of the high points. Good song. 4.9/5
Tons of Steel
A Brent Mydland song! One that opens up with the sound of a steel mill. The song is obviously Country influenced. He actually sings this song, his voice sounds good. It suits Rock very well. The song sounds like one you'd hear from Mellencamp, Fogerty or even Steve Earle. Much more hard working Texas Country than Appalachian hick Country. The song is very soulful, the only downside to the song is the organ or keyboard Brent uses. It gives a very cheesy and fuzzy "80's" sound. Definitely not the greatest choice of instruments. But none the less the song is pretty good, not fantastic though. 3.9/5
Here's a okay song. Bob Weir sings, though I prefer Jerry's voice. The song has an odd, upbeat, but yet sad sound and vibe. The beat is fabulous. This is definitely not Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzmann's best work, but they do a pretty good job on this album. Nothing to complicated, yet nothing to complain about. The songs has a very strong bass line also, and goes through small guitar outbursts and some interesting tempo changes occasionally. Okay tune. 3/5
Black Muddy River
Most definitely better live. Like many other Dead tracks. The song is quite Gospel influenced as Garcia once said. And it shows through it's chorus and positive vibe. The chorus is it's strong point. It's has a catchy line and fits the music well. The guitars and harmonies are fantastic. Once again the worst part would have to be the chosen keyboard sound. It's too "80's" and cheesy :p. Which isn't good for Brent, though he is an extremely talented pianist and overall musician. Great song! Live = 5/5
, Recorded = 4.9/5
I quite like this album, but obviously isn't The Grateful Dead's best. However, it brought them back to one of their previous great sounds, and gave us some fabulous songs. 4/5
Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar
Phil Lesh - Bass
Bob Weir - Rhythm Guitar
Billy Kreutzmann - Drums
Mickey Hart - Drums
Brent Mydland - Keyboards