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Old 03-04-2007, 05:49 PM   #1
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Tell me about the Grateful Dead

I've heard and read about them for ages but I doubt I've ever heard a song of theirs. So , are there any Dead fans here? If so what album/songs should I first listen to?
Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2007, 05:52 PM   #2
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'Dead Set' - the live album from the early 80s.

I'm no Deadhead, but that's a goooood live record.

'Friend Of The Devil'
'Deal'
'Fire On The Mountain'
'The Greatest Story Ever Told'
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:02 PM   #3
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I once listened to a friend's copy of American Beauty, what's considered their greatest album I think. Got bored halfway thru it. I like a few songs like Friend Of The Devil and Truckin but it's not my cup of tea.
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:49 PM   #4
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I abandoned U2 for a few years in college during which I listened to tons of the Dead.

The Dead went through many eras, mostly based on who came into and left the band. Their earliest line up, featuring Ron "Pigpen" McKernan on keyboards, was the time when they experimented with the blues the most. Pigpen was later replaced by Keith Godchaux, whose wife Donna was a backup singer. This is my favorite era of the band, as I like the harmonies she added to songs like Scarlet Begonias and Fire On the Mountain. They stayed with the band through the late 70s (I think...I'm writing this off the top of my head), and Brett Mydland joined the band as keyboard player in the late 70s and 80s, bringing a much different, almost poppy sound to songs like Far From Me and Touch of Grey.

The Dead's keyboard players, with the exception of Bruce Hornsby (who toured with the band in the 90s but never really officially joined), all met lousy fates. Pigpen died as a result of his alcoholism, Keith Godchaux in a car wreck, and Brett Mydland of a heroin overdose. After Jerry Garcia's death in 1996, the band disbanded for awhile, then tried touring again as the Other Ones, then later as the Dead (where they did a painfully bad version of One).

I've seen Bobby Weir's band Ratdog and Phil Lesh's Phil Lesh and Friends; I didn't much care for Lesh, but I loved Ratdog.

The Dick's Picks series makes it easy to find a quality recording of many Dead shows. I've long lost track of the series, but a few I recommend are volumes 7 and 10, both of which are three-disc sets from the mid 70s. I also recommend the Arista Years compilation for a taste of what they did in the late 70s and early 80s. I can't choose between American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, probably the band's two best-known studio albums, both from the early 70s--both of them have some lousy songs, but each also has some of my favorite Dead songs.

If you don't like long, wandering jams, you'll hate the Grateful Dead. That's why I eventually got bored with them. I love their improvisations, but after awhile, all the 15+ minute drum or guitar solos get a little tiresome

Jeez, I didn't mean to write a novel. Sorry
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:51 PM   #5
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I always heard people raving about American Beauty, but alas, it wasn't really for me.

But "Box of Rain" is a thing of beauty. I want to get the American Beauty CD all the same, just for that song.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:20 PM   #6
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That song, Friend of the Devil, and Brokedown Palace are the highlights of that album. Brokedown Palace is an especially pretty song.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:34 PM   #7
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thanks,
I do quite enjoy long jams (unless it's dave matthews) and jazz improvisation ...
so which would you then recommend?
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:16 PM   #8
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I'm dumbfounded by how many shows iTunes has up. The Dick's Picks series looks like it's up into the 40s now.

The first disc of Dick's Picks vol. 10 is probably my favorite Dead, but I think vol. 7, from a 1974 is a better overall show I've heard--a great version of Scarlet Begonias on the first disc, the excellent Weather Report Suite and Wharf Rat on disc 2, and Me and My Uncle and Not Fade Away on the third disc.

The nice thing about iTunes is that you can listen to previews of everything. And while you can't buy the longer songs, you can at least try out some songs from different eras to see which ones you like best. I used to pick shows based on the setlists--Loser, Sugaree, Not Fade Away, Scarlet Begonias/Fire On the Mountain are some of my favorites.

Of the studio albums, both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty are good--WD has Uncle John's Band and Casey Jones, AB has Friend of the Devil and Truckin'. Aoxomoxoa, which came out in 1969, isn't as great of an album in my opinion, but the version of St. Stephen on it is definitely worth the price from iTunes.
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