Following, The Grateful Dead's mediocre album Anthem of the Sun
. They released a highly abstract, influenced, and psychedelic, album. The name of this album would be the odd and hard to pronounce title Aoxomoxoa
. During the recording and release of Aoxomoxoa
, The Grateful Dead were having problems, and were going through permanent and temporary changes.
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was dealing with an alchohol addiction, which would help finish him off in 1973. He was also losing massive amounts of weight, and gaining a very ill image. So, the rest of the members of The Grateful Dead decided to recruit pianist and friend Tom Constanten. Who would fill in and remain in the band when Pig began to feel better. Tom did not remain in the band for a good amount of time, but he did help out for several albums.
The Grateful Dead also invited percussionist and overall great drummer Mickey Hart to the band. Mickey would drum beside Kreutzmann and would soon take a hiatus, because of emotional problems (His father who was helping manage them, stole a great deal of the band's money). Mickey would become a permanent member, and of course until the end.
I find Aoxomoxoa
to be one of those albums that always sounds fresh. And if it's fresh, it's good. It really contains something for almost everyone, while still keeping a psychedelic sound. Some great tracks are as follows, "St. Stephen" which is a Grateful Dead classic. "Dupree's Diamond Blues", "Mountains of the Moon", "Doin that Rag", and "China Cat Sunflower". If your looking for an album to get you into The Grateful Dead, by all means buy Workingman's Dead or American Beauty. This is more of an album that just adds icing to the cake.
"St. Stephen" is a terrific track. It contains many different speeds tempos, feelings, ect. It has a great fun attitude to it. The songs (near 1:20) takes a very slow turn from it's aggresive intro and begining. After a medium amount of time, it breaks into a great drum driven solo, and then goes through a few verses and a few solos. Excluding the one part driven percussion (As I said before), the song is ran by Phil Lesh's strait up bass lines. His playing is quite similar to the playing of Jack Bruce of Cream. In other words, in a lead fassion. You will surely find this track on any Grateful Dead complication. Great opening track :thumb: 5/5
Dupree's Diamond Blues
Here's just a great, good feeling song. It is based arounf organ playing, that gives it a similar sound to what you might hear at a carnival. Garica and Hunter wrote some very interesting lyrics for this track. The song also includes some great acoustic playing, and the occasional banjo add in. Which is of course played by Jerry Garcia. I love this song. 5/5
"Rosemary" is not a favorite of mine. It is very calm, peaceful, and slighly melancholy. The acoustic guitar and bass playing is great as usual. But the song just overall annoys me. Plus it only runs at a short 1:58. It's kind of the Aoxomoxoa
intervention. "Rosemary = Song to boot. 2/5
Doin' that Rag
This is basically a free flowing, folk song. Kind of unhateable. Some of the lyrics Jerry sings (especially in the opening) really creep up on you when listening. I remember being a little freaked out the first time I gave this song a listen. Not much more to say. 4/5
Mountains of the Moon
This number gives off a very medieval feeling. I'm guessing the feeling is given off by the harpsichord (I believe it's a harpsichord) playing. Other than the odd usage of an rarely seen instrument in Rock, the song incorporated great lyrics, and some interesting acoutic finger picking. The bass is also done perfectly, once again solidifying Phil Lesh as a great bassist. 3.5/5
China Cat Sunflower
Now, here is a unique, psychedelic, positive, and obviously 60's tune. It has some fabulous lyrics, some noodeling like guitar playing, great solos, and an extremely odd chorus. That is simply "Na na na" sang in an odd manner. Very intriguing song ;) 4.5/5
What's Become of the Baby
Obviously a filler track, "What's become of the Baby" only includes Jerry Garica's vocals, and some odd back ground, wind sounding noises. The song sounds like it was recorded in a stadium. Similar to how the the national anthem sounds when sang in some kind of stadium. The song isn't that great, and it isn't that bad. 2.5/5
This tune has some great intertwining guitar playing that is recorded very oddly. The vocals are nicely sang in unison, with a great amount of passion and feeling. I also really enjoy the drumming in this track. It's slightly hard to hear, but does the job well. Definatley a strait up song, and one of my favorites. 4.5/5
I give this album a 4/5, it shows that The Grateful Dead can play Psychedelia great, and it shows that they can play it in many different forms. Another great album by an extrodinary band :)
Billy Kreutzmann Percussion
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - Organ
Tom Constanten - Piano