Bob Weir never stopped making music but he did back away from his solo career after Heaven Help the Fool, a misbegotten 1978 effort that found the Grateful Dead guitarist attempting to dabble in the sun-splashed surfaces of SoCal soft rock. After that, he retreated to the boogying Bobby & the Midnites, a side project that was abandoned after the Dead scored a hit in 1987 with In the Dark, then after the death of Jerry Garcia, he wandered through several jam bands, settling on RatDog as a vehicle for whatever songs he had. All of this is to say that when 2016's Blue Mountain is called Weir's best album since his 1972 debut Ace – and it is, without question – there simply isn't much competition.
These four discs offer completely unreleased performances by the Weather Report lineup of keyboardist Joe Zawinul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Jaco Pastorius, drummer Peter Erskine, and a bit later, percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr. It was compiled for release by Erskine (whose historical essay and annotated track notes are fantastic) and Tony Zawinul, Joe's son. These are mostly soundboard cassettes made by WR's longtime live sound engineer Brian Risner, with choice audience tapes and commercial mobile rig selections mixed in. While it (mostly) sounds like an excellent bootleg, the sound here is remarkable given the root sources. Similar to 2002's Live and Unreleased, the material is not arranged chronologically.
A millionaire and a million-dollar prostitute, a star-maker and a nation-killer, a woman whose lusts are as cold as graveyard snow…Five of the most powerful people in the world, gathered in an ancient mansion to inherit a Legacy of bloodsome horror. And Maggie makes six.
This album was always sort of a joke among Carole King's serious fans, containing 12 songs drawn from six albums, and liner notes that fail even to acknowledge the existence of Writer, her one pre-Tapestry solo LP. A Natural Woman supplanted it later, and the addition of two live cuts, "Eventually" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" from the Carnegie Hall concert on the 1999 reissue (Ode/Epic/Legacy 65846), doesn't extended the range or depth of the selection sufficiently. On the other hand, the 1999 remastering does improve the listening pleasure inherent in what is here – the material off of Tapestry, Music, Rhymes & Reasons, and others is now very robust, with vivid instrumentation and a close, rich profile of King's voice. The selection of King's work is still only an inch deep, but it's a more rewarding inch.