With 1970's Workingman's Dead, the Grateful Dead went through an overnight metamorphosis, turning abruptly from tripped-out free-form rock toward sublime acoustic folk and Americana. Taking notes on vocal harmonies from friends Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Dead used the softer statements of their fourth studio album as a subtle but moving reflection on the turmoil, heaviness, and hope America's youth was facing as the idealistic '60s ended. American Beauty was recorded just a few months after its predecessor, both expanding and improving on the bluegrass, folk, and psychedelic country explorations of Workingman's Dead with some of the band's most brilliant compositions. The songs here have a noticeably more relaxed and joyous feel. Having dived headfirst into this new sound with the previous album, the bandmembers found the summit of their collaborative powers here, with lyricist Robert Hunter penning some of his most poetic work, Jerry Garcia focusing more on gliding pedal steel than his regular electric lead guitar work, and standout lead vocal performances coming from Bob Weir (on the anthem to hippie love "Sugar Magnolia"), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (on the husky blues of "Operator"), and Phil Lesh (on the near-perfect opening tune, "Box of Rain").
Over the years a number of studio rarities have been appended to the deluxe or expanded versions of The Grateful Dead’s studio albums. In addition, two critically acclaimed career-retrospective box sets—2001’s The Golden Road and 2004’s Beyond Description—further increased the number of “alternate” studio recordings available in their best fidelity. This collection (like its companion Complete Live Rarities Collection) mops up the loose ends in one spellbinding place. These tracks are best understood in context with the new digital book The Golden Road and Beyond: A Grateful Dead Primer, which has two essays written for those aforementioned box sets by the band’s longtime publicist Dennis McNally. However, you only need ears to enjoy the Scorpio Sessions versions of “Don’t Ease Me In” and “I Know You Rider,” the under-three-minute take of “Dark Star,” and the studio outtakes of “Catfish John,” “Jack-a-Roe,” and “Peggy-O.” The b-side “My Brother Esau” is a great find, while the studio rehearsal of “Touch of Grey” should interest anyone who fell under the spell of the band’s biggest hit single.
This chronological, decades-spanning collection offers revelatory peeks at little-heard tunes as well as thrilling takes on beloved setlist staples. Reaching back to 1966, we get rare outings of folk/blues covers like "He Was a Friend of Mine" and Lead Belly's "In the Pines," while a 1978 recording from the legendary Egyptian performances at the foot of the pyramids produces a collaboration with oud master Hamza El Din on his own "Ollin Arageed."
Disagreements and debates are common among Grateful Dead fans but there is a surprising consensus that the show the group gave at Barton Hall at Cornell University on May 8, 1977 is one of the band's greatest. It, like so many Dead shows, first gained its reputation through tape trading, but its legend soon eclipsed Deadhead circles, culminating in its induction into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry in 2012. Rhino/Grateful Dead Records' official release followed in May 2017 – just in time for the concert's 40th anniversary; it was also bundled as part of a big box called Get Shown the Light, which contains all the shows the Dead did in May 1977 – and it's worth the wait.
Dave's Picks Volume 22 is a live album by rock band the Grateful Dead. It contains the complete concert recorded at the Felt Forum in New York City on December 7, 1971. It also includes some songs recorded at the same venue the previous night. It was produced as a limited edition of 16,500 copies, and is scheduled to be released on May 1, 2017. As a special treat for our Dave's Picks 2017 Subscribers, the 2017 Bonus Disc will feature the bulk of the rest of this 12/6/71 show, giving you two nearly-complete shows from one of the most requested and sought-after runs in Grateful Dead history.