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Where to start with The Grateful Dead?


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Yeah, and to "Workingman's Dead" I'd also add "Live Dead" and "American Beauty". In fact, get the box set "The Golden Road (1965 - 1973)".

Workingman's and American Beauty are their finest studio albums for sure. Live in Europe is my favorite live album.

 

Don't bother. :stunned
That point of view may also be true. The Dead (don't anyone stone me....so to speak), were not the world's greatest band music wise. Even Garcia admitted they werent' always on. But as a cultural institution they had few peers. I guess I find it strange that someone hasn't heard that much of the Dead. Generation gap I guess.

 

LouieB

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Ha, we could merge this one with the other GD thread we've got going on right now. (when is the last time we had multiple GD threads going on at VC?)

 

Not sure what to tell you about starting points...I've slowly gotten into the band over the course of 15 years or so and have only become really addicted in the last few years. You could start with the studio albums just to get a familiarity with the catalog (as noted, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead are probably the strongest studio efforts, although not wholly representative of the band's sound overall). As for live albums, Europe '72 is as good a place to start as any. (also you can check out the TONS of streaming live shows for free on archive.org)

 

So many places to begin...

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If you'd like to hear the band at the peak of their country/blues/roots influenced songwriting: American Beauty and Workingman's Dead

If you'd like to hear the band showing off their most intricate and musically complex work: Blues For Allah

If you'd like a pschedelic taste of what they were doing in the late 60's that inspired a lifetime of devotion from so many: Live Dead

 

The Dead are still the most misunderstood and unfairly dismissed band of all time. Forget their fans and whatever images you conjure up when hearing the word "Deadhead". Forget what you think they should sound like. Just listen to the music: the ups, the downs, the timeworn tales of misbegotten gamblers and shadowy outcasts, the hurtling blues squall of the early days, the majestic group dynamics of something like "Terrapin Station", and the ethereal, often inhuman strangeness found in the midsts of an epic "Dark Star" or "Playing In the Band". You won't like all of it, and not every jam is a revelation. There's an element of risk with the Dead that makes them addicting. It's completely unfair and wildly inaccurate to callously dismiss them as aimless hippie noodlers.

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i also love 'wake of the flood'. if just for missisippi half step.

Agreed. I also like Mars Hotel a lot, but probably only half of it. (ie, they nailed Ship of Fools, but Money Money is just horrid, imo)

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If you'd like to hear the band at the peak of their country/blues/roots influenced songwriting: American Beauty and Workingman's Dead

If you'd like to hear the band showing off their most intricate and musically complex work: Blues For Allah

If you'd like a pschedelic taste of what they were doing in the late 60's that inspired a lifetime of devotion from so many: Live Dead

 

The Dead are still the most misunderstood and unfairly dismissed band of all time. Forget their fans and whatever images you conjure up when hearing the word "Deadhead". Forget what you think they should sound like. Just listen to the music: the ups, the downs, the timeworn tales of misbegotten gamblers and shadowy outcasts, the hurtling blues squall of the early days, the majestic group dynamics of something like "Terrapin Station", and the ethereal, often inhuman strangeness found in the midsts of an epic "Dark Star" or "Playing In the Band". You won't like all of it, and not every jam is a revelation. There's an element of risk with the Dead that makes them addicting. It's completely unfair and wildly inaccurate to callously dismiss them as aimless hippie noodlers.

Very well put. :cheers

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If you'd like to hear the band at the peak of their country/blues/roots influenced songwriting: American Beauty and Workingman's Dead

If you'd like to hear the band showing off their most intricate and musically complex work: Blues For Allah

If you'd like a pschedelic taste of what they were doing in the late 60's that inspired a lifetime of devotion from so many: Live Dead

Ya, this seems to sum up what most of ye are saying. Wish me luck!

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Ya, this seems to sum up what most of ye are saying. Wish me luck!

 

 

You can never go wrong with Live Dead. In my opinion the studio albums (some are good) just do not capture the true sound and spirit of the Dead. Live recordings are where they can really stretch out and soar. Try some from different time periods, you would be amazed in the difference between a song like Playin' In The Band from 1972 and the same song from 1989.

 

Experiment!

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Exactly twenty years ago, I spent the month of July hitchhiking around the country to catch all the Bob Dylan/Grateful Dead concerts they were doing together. Three on the east coast, then three on the west. It wasn't planned, I just went to the first one, and it was great. Since I was fairly homeless at the time anyway, what the hell. The shows got better each time, as the Dead's worshipping of Bob forced him to knock off the rust and give a shit, relearning a bucketload of his old songs. His voice was in fine form in those days. I think it was the last time Jerry ever played lap steel in concert. Jerry was newly sober, and had reforged a good working relationship with Weir and the rest of the band. I ended up hitting 90% of the shows that summer and fall, and decided to try being an artist again, as I was getting a little old to be a broke hitchhiker, and the music was inspiring. I even met Missus J4 at a Dead show. Thank God for Jerry and Bob.

 

One From The Vault is my recommendation for a gateway Dead album as well. Not the most on fire, but pretty, precise and inspired.

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Another vote for Europe '72. It's my favorite live effort of theirs by far, of all the official releases I've heard.

 

 

It's not too bad, but I'm not a huge fan of it. They overdubbed the hell out of it in the studio...it's kind of not really live.

 

But I do dig the 1972 stuff

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It's not too bad, but I'm not a huge fan of it. They overdubbed the hell out of it in the studio...it's kind of not really live.

 

But I do dig the 1972 stuff

True, its not a "pure" live album--its almost a unique entity somewhere between a live album and a studio album. Remarkably, it works pretty darn well if you ask me.

 

As a gateway album, all I can say is that its definitely the album that got me "off the fence" and into full-fledged geekdom. (I was a little surprised to find recently that the Eur'74 "Brown Eyed Women" has the highest play-count on my iPod!) There's some good stuff there, but yeah, tip of the iceberg...

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Exactly twenty years ago, I spent the month of July hitchhiking around the country to catch all the Bob Dylan/Grateful Dead concerts they were doing together. Three on the east coast, then three on the west. It wasn't planned, I just went to the first one, and it was great. Since I was fairly homeless at the time anyway, what the hell. The shows got better each time, as the Dead's worshipping of Bob forced him to knock off the rust and give a shit, relearning a bucketload of his old songs. His voice was in fine form in those days. I think it was the last time Jerry ever played lap steel in concert. Jerry was newly sober, and had reforged a good working relationship with Weir and the rest of the band. I ended up hitting 90% of the shows that summer and fall, and decided to try being an artist again, as I was getting a little old to be a broke hitchhiker, and the music was inspiring. I even met Missus J4 at a Dead show. Thank God for Jerry and Bob.

 

One From The Vault is my recommendation for a gateway Dead album as well. Not the most on fire, but pretty, precise and inspired.

 

 

I wish I new you back then to join you J4lackey, although at 14 in 87' I probably would have ended up just an annoyance to you. I always love hearing these stories, I never did more than 2 or 3 shows at a time.

 

Looks like it's already been covered, but when it comes to the Dead, I must chime in.

 

Europe 72

Workingmans

American Beauty

Live Dead

one from the Vault

Live from the Mars Hotel

Wake of The Flood

 

Bootlegs-

8/6/71 @ Hollywood Palledium

8/27/72 @ Old Reaissanse fair grounds Oregon

2/27/77 swing Auditorium

11/24/78 Cap theatre

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Workingman's and American Beauty are their finest studio albums for sure. Live in Europe is my favorite live album.

 

That point of view may also be true. The Dead (don't anyone stone me....so to speak), were not the world's greatest band music wise. Even Garcia admitted they werent' always on. But as a cultural institution they had few peers. I guess I find it strange that someone hasn't heard that much of the Dead. Generation gap I guess.

 

LouieB

 

I heard "Casey Jones" for the first time ever on the radio last week. I never really listened to classic rock radio as a kid, but now that Dallas' classic rock station is playing Uncle Tupelo and Slobberbone, I've come around to it a little. I also heard "That Smell" for the first time last week. A total epiphany.

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My favorite version of the band was the one with Keith and Donna Godchaux (1975-79). Dick's Picks Vol. 7 and 10 are from this era, and they're two of my favorites. Any version of Scarlet Begonias--> Fire On the Mountain with Donna on backup vocals is a very, very good thing.

 

I second others' suggestions for Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. I like American Beauty slightly more for tracks like Brokedown Palace and Box of Rain, but I think Workingman's Dead is a little more consistent. Both are short, fantastic albums. If you're interested in the late 70s and 80s Dead, the Arista Years is a good compilation to start with.

 

I was really into the Dead about eight years ago. I'd heard a few of their songs before that, but this old hippie guy I worked with suggested I get Workingman's Dead, and I loved them right away. They definitely changed the way I listen to music--with so many songs and so many different versions of songs, I started listening a lot more closely and really appreciating improvisation. I don't listen to them as much as I used to, but they definitely made a mark on me.

 

If you ever get a chance, check out Ratdog live. At the height of my Deadhead phase I was in the second row at an outdoor show in Philadelphia where they played Terrapin Station. It was amazing. I've seen Phil Lesh and Friends, too, but I preferred Ratdog.

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you seriously like donna's backing vocals? ugh, i cannot stand her

Ditto. And I much prefer Keith's piano work with the dead in the 72-74 era, when he was still lucid. Towards the end he was a guitar-mimicking zombie and should have been forced out sooner than '79.

 

The thing with GD music is that there are many varied eras to consider. I was thinking about this the other day: when you're in the mood for certain types of music you select certain types of musicians/bands that compliment the feel or mood you're in at the time. For example, you might be inclined to pop in a Feelies disc on a bright sunny day while cruising down a country road but would rather listen to Astral Weeks while cleaning the house on a rainy day.

 

With the Dead, for me, they're the only band whom I can select an era from their catalog to compliment either the sunny drive or the rainy day. They're that varied within themselves. I have an immense amount of recorded GD and can pretty much select the era to fit my mood. Of course, at times I'm simply not in the mood for GD, but the point stands.

 

With this, it really depends on what you are looking for. Some of the material (from whichever era) just might not work for you. I'd go to the archives site and start off by streaming some live stuff from different eras to see if you connect with any or all of it. The GD were at their best as a live band. Their studio stuff, for the most part, is listenable but they shine in the live setting.

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