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").
The unexpected return of the masters of the Grateful Dead's triumphant show at the Albuquerque Civic Auditorium, November 17, 1971, yields great rewards. The Dead came in HOT for their first New Mexico show. Aided by clarity and precision and abetted by confidence and focus, they finessed old standards with definitive takes. With Keith now blending in seamlessly on keys, the first set offered up a triple shot of electric Blues, an exceptional "You Win Again," and a stellar "One More Saturday Night" to wrap things up. And the second set, well, it might just be unlike any you've ever heard.
Dave's Picks Volume 23 is a live album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It contains the complete concert recorded at McArthur Court at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon on January 22, 1978. It was produced as a limited edition of 16,500 copies, and was released on August 1, 2017.
Dave's Picks Volume 24 is a three-CD live album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It contains the complete concert recorded at the Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, California on August 25, 1972. It was produced as a limited edition of 16,500 copies, and is scheduled to be released on November 1, 2017.