Grateful Dead
Shakedown Street



by Badmoon USER (65 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 9 replies

Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Other than the previous two albums, by 1978, The Grateful Dead were doing great. Though If you ask me, even those two previous albums were not that bad at all, critics see it differently. They also find this album, Shakedown Street to be unsatisfactory. While to me, it is very acceptable. The only large downside, is that each of these songs are much better live than recorded. But most of The Dead's song are (with the exception for "Playing in the Band"). So, I definitely couldn't see marking off for that. The writing is outstanding, and they finally put some older live songs onto record, which at the time would be very exciting to me. The Grateful also surprising add a Reggae number, which is of course "Fire on the Mountain". Add that all up, and you have a pretty good album.

The Grateful Dead at the time had an outstanding line up. And one of the best for live performances. The Godchaux add both piano skills, and an amazing voice from Donna. Who rarely takes lead. The Rhythm Devils could not be better also. Their drumming flows better and better. Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are spot on with the rhythm and bass lines. And of course, Jerry is outstanding. His influence brought in a lot for this album. And his voice graces many of my favorites.

There are certainly many stand out tracks here. "Fire on the Mountain" with it's mellow flow shows an influence that would only be shown of the bands fan favorites, "Scarlet Begonias" and "Touch of Grey". The old Pigpen sung "Good Lovin'" does not live up to it's live version, nor it's Pigpen version, but it still fun to listen to. Though there are many more, "Stagger Lee" does it for me. The mess of a chaotic song definitely attracts me, and it's jagged harmonies can not be anymore interesting. Well, here is Shakedown Street.

Good Lovin'
The album begins with a classic. And probably a tune that you have heard covered a million times. Though originally sang by late Grateful Dead organist/harmonica player, it is sang by Little Feat's Lowell George. Who not only lent himself to produce Shakedown, but of course added his voice. The song is very catchy and I'm sure everyone knows the words. The percussion is some of the best I had heard from Billy and Mickey. The lead guitar playing adds soooo much, as does the blazing organ playing by Keith. Just for everyone's information Keith would later die, and be replaced by Bob Weir organist Brent Mydland. Surprisingly, Lowell's voice slightly resembles Pigpen's, but I definitely prefer Pig's. I love this song. 5/5

Here is quite a Latin influenced piece. If you have ever heard "Sco-Mule" by Gov't Mule, you can relate it to this. The drumming is wild (In a good way), but I dislike the organ sound. The guitar playing is extremely satisfactory (Jerry uses many of his newly learnt Spanish guitar interludes to add spice). And Donna adds her voice to the lyrics, along with Bob to combines an okay mixed vocal combination. But the highlight would have to be the Steel drum playing, as well as Jerry's Django Reinhardt influenced solos. The song is pretty good. 3.9/5

Shakedown Street
This title track has a great deal of mystique to it. The opening of it sounds like Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" that was released after this album was put out. The song to me is a Progressive Blues song. Which is very odd. It is lead by a fantastic bass line, and mainly supported by the keyboard work, especially during the chorus. Jerry takes the vocals, and fits the mood very well, he seems to be in key also. The drumming, once again, is fabulous. This has to be Hart and Kreutzmann's percussion masterpiece. Fantastic song, could be better though. 4.9/5

"Serengetti" opens with percussion, and ends with percussion. And is completely percussion. Though, as boring as that usually is to a non drummer, the drummers make it very interesting. It's filled with great beats, xylophone work, and various other percussion instruments. There is not really much else to say, and it's very hard to rate. So, I won't rate it.

Fire on the Mountain
"Fire on the Mountain" is surely one of my favorite Dead songs to play, listen to recorded, and listen to live. It is largely Reggae influenced, and has a great mellow vibe and drum beat. The live and recorded guitar work are extraordinary. The percussion is once again fabulous, and it blends well with the great bass line. The lyrics were written by Mickey and Robert Hunter, which is really refreshing. Not only the concept, but Mickey's writing, which to me is quite talented. The organ and rhythm guitar effects are very interesting. They also blend with the overall vibe and sound very well. All timed perfectly. Amazing song! 5/5

I Need a Miracle
Here is a commonly played live song. Bob Weir sings the tune, and does it well. But not as well as life. Though his voice occasionally varies from good to bad during live sets. The song is a Blues/Hard Rock song. The lyrics are very catchy and I always find myself listening to it. Bob goes through the lyrics explaining why he "Needs a miracle everyday!". Whether it's an older woman or a heavy woman, he seems to want it. The Grateful Dead aren't known for playing Hard Rock songs, and they are usually only played in a Hard Rock fashion on album. And they are usually written by Bob (another being "Hell in a Bucket"). But the band adapt well, with fireball harmonica playing, and top of the line, high energy guitar solos. 4.2/5

From the Heart of Me
Now another rhythmic Latin influenced track. Much more calm and relaxing than the previous track that resembled this one. Donna Jean Godchaux sing :) I find her voice much more appealing live. She has a very powerful voice if you've ever heard her. Like a less sloppy Janis Joplin, but that's what makes Janis' style (incase you though I said Donna was better). The song along with it's calm feel, is pretty upbeat. The low point, which is pretty drastic, is that it's a mix of too many instrument, which makes it messy sounding. Not that bad of a song though. 2.9/5

Stagger Lee
"Stagger Lee" is surely the highlight of the album, for me at least. The lyrics tell a fabulous story, and the harmonies and sound have a very interesting circus like feel to them. The track is quite messy, as is Garcia's vocal styling, but it blends perfectly. And very amusing. Jerry actually plays slide on this tune, which I believe he has a talent for, but rarely uses. The piano, drumming, and bass playing match up together perfectly. The song is fabulous, but I'm sure most wouldn't like it. 5/5

All New Minglewood Blues
By my count, this is the third version of this song I've heard The Grateful Dead play. The best being "New, New Minglewood Blues" off of their self titled debut album. Weir tackles the vocals, and does a great job. He adds a little intensity when it is needed. I love the main chorus line, "I was born in the desert, raised in a lion's den.". The drumming and guitar combination reminds me of how The Dead played back on their Roots album Workingman's Dead, which is great by my standards. The song contains various good solos from a harmonica and guitar, but on one they mix and it add a great amount to this track. 4.5/9

If I Had the World to Give
"If I Had the World to Give" ends the album, and slows it down. It's rather pleasant, but comes no where near to some of the other songs. The song is kind of Blues and Gospel influenced. It also has a Children Folk vibe, meaning it sounds like to could be a lullaby song. Kind of reminds me of a Lennon song. The guitar playing is okay; nothing special. The track seems like one that you'd have to grow to like. 3/5

Overall, this is a great album. Full of interesting tracks, and influence that has yet to be used by The Grateful Dead. Amazingly underrated(Allmusic.com gave it two stars :() 4/5.

Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar
Bob Weir - Rhythm Guitar
Bill Kreutzmann - Drums
Mickey Hart - Drums
Phil Lesh - Bass
Keith Godchaux - Keyboards
Donna Godchaux - Vocals

Additional Musicians
Robert Hunter - Song Writer
Lowell George - Producer, Vocals
Matthew Kelly - Harp
Jordan Amarantha - Percussion
Steve Schuster - Horns
Hamza El Din - Various contributions

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user ratings (105)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 13th 2004


Good Job :thumb: Everyone go buy this right now!

Oh yea first post

Broken Arrow
November 13th 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

5/5 for me.

Great Reveiw again Badmoon!!!!!

This is my favourite Grateful Dead Album. Fire on the Mountain and Stagger Lee are amazing. Sarenghetti is odd but awesome. Nice work man!!

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
November 13th 2004


Good Reveiw Maybe Ill buy it.

Broken Arrow
November 13th 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

[QUOTE=Schyma000]Good Reveiw Maybe Ill buy it.[/QUOTE]

It is teh rare but if you see it buy it!

November 13th 2004


I may do Wake of the Flood next.

July 1st 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

This is some of the Dead's best studio material. Up there with American Beauty, and Workingman's Dead.

April 13th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

I never get tired of Fire On the Mountain.

Too bad the rest of the album isn't nearly as good.

April 8th 2017


Good review

July 28th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

don't tell me this town aint got no heart, just gotta poke around

edit: also bumped this up to a 4

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