Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead


4.0
excellent

Review

by MotokoKusanagi USER (1 Reviews)
February 26th, 2014 | 58 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

The year is 1967 and the counter-culture movement had begun to spread across the United States, culminating with the fabled Summer of Love. The Grateful Dead’s self-titled album was recorded in their hometown of San Francisco and not by accident, was released earlier that same year. This album would be their first release out of 22 future studio recordings; thus beginning the ascent of the Grateful Dead to their eventual cult-like following. By 1985 the band would be selling out stadiums across the U.S., and by the time of their disbandment in 1995, they had become the most live-recorded band in music history.

The Grateful Dead would become known for their diverse and ever-changing sound, incorporating elements of country rock, bluegrass, folk, jazz, blues, and of course psychedelic rock. But this isn’t necessarily how they started off as a band. For the most part The Grateful Dead is filled with psychedelic-tinged standard blues numbers. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s organ gives the album it’s distinct Haight-Ashbury psychedelic rock feel, layered upon straight-up blues rock grooves led by Jerry Garcia. The most representative track of this formula would be “Cream Puff War”. The song starts with Jerry’s steady blues riffing and an atmospheric organ line. The momentum of the song continues to build until the 2:00 mark, when rhythm guitarist Bob Weir gives a perfectly timed scream and Garcia lets loose with a signature improv blues solo. This shows the Grateful Dead’s ability to combine more traditional elements of music with other styles such as psychedelic rock and heavy improvisation. The outcome is a very unique and eclectic sound for the band, one which they would continue to use and build upon for the remainder of their recording and touring career.

Contrary to the majority of their later material, most of the tracks on here remain under 5 minutes in length. The album would be the only Grateful Dead release that had a similar sound to other contemporary bands of their time, such as the Quicksilver Messenger Service, 13th Floor Elevators, and Jefferson Airplane. Just a year later they would release Anthem of the Sun, an album which better captured the live-experience of the Dead and left out a majority of their blues-rock influence; in favor of extended, improvised jams. The final track on the album, “Viola Lee Blues” shows a hint of what was soon to come. It’s easily the best song off their debut and clocks in at just over ten minutes in length. It’s a cover of Mississippi’s Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the band responsible for popularizing jugband music in the early 1900s. The Dead use this country rock groove as a basis for improvisation, and the song ends up going to places entirely unrelated to the song’s original apparent destination; all before coming back to the original chorus and closing the song. It’s quite literally a trip (no pun intended) and marks the first development of their trademark sound they would soon come to be known for.

Their debut release is a fun and highly danceable psychedelic rock album, but not one that is entirely unique or different from other bands of that time. If you were to compare songs on this album to others on later albums, such as the highly acclaimed American Beauty or Blues for Allah, it would most likely sound like a different band altogether. Their career history is marked by frequent changes in style and consistently incorporating new elements of music into their repertoire. The Grateful Dead shows where the Dead came from as a band and the roots of their sound that continued to evolve over the next 28 years of existence.


user ratings (175)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i will be reviewing their whole studio discography in the next few years time.

laughingman22
February 26th 2014


2830 Comments


Hi kusanagi i'm the laughingman

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hi nice username friend



do you like the dead?

laughingman22
February 26th 2014


2830 Comments


I've heard very little of the dead, but I couldn't resist the urge to comment seeing your username and avatar. By the way good review

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

if i may recommend a song or two for your listening pleasure



if you like laughingman then surely you have good enough taste to realize how wonderful the grateful dead are



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvUyyhRQhd8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KbW6UWFrCk

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and thank you, it was my first review on this site although i post some on rateyourmusic

laughingman22
February 26th 2014


2830 Comments


no problem, I will check the videos out

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good deal!

MeatSalad
February 26th 2014


17504 Comments


in the next few years time.


m/

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

expect the next review some time tomorow meatstick

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2014


12134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great debut, I love the bluesy influences on this one.

Digging: UFO - Obsession

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

agreed, it's amazing to see what they turned into as they kept touring. what did you think of the review my buddy?

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i plan on reviewing all of their albums

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2014


12134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's a very good review and I can't understand why you got a neg actually. I only spotted an "it's" that should be "its" which is nothing really. Anyway, have a pos from me.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2014


12134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh, will you review their albums chronologically or go for those who don't have a review first?

MotokoKusanagi
February 26th 2014


3687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks i will edit that, didn't catch it.



and i will be reviewing them chronologically

JamieTwort
February 26th 2014


26988 Comments


This is one of my favourite Dead albums. Probably my second favourite studio album of theirs after Anthem of the Sun.

RunOfTheMill
February 26th 2014


4160 Comments


Been thinking of getting into these guys, is this a good place to start?

JamieTwort
February 26th 2014


26988 Comments


I'd say so but I'm probably in the minority. I only really dig this band's 60's stuff which is more psychedelic than their later (post-Aoxomoxoa) albums.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2014


12134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you want to listen to their more bluesy side this a good place. I'd also suggest you to listen to their live album Live/Dead in order to fully appreciate their psychedelic side.



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