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American Beauty

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Audio CD, February 25, 2003
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Rock's longest, strangest trip, the Grateful Dead were the psychedelic era's most beloved musical ambassadors as well as its most enduring survivors, spreading their message of peace, love, and mind-expansion across the globe throughout the better part of three decades. The object of adoration for popular music's most fervent and celebrated fan following -- the Deadheads, their ... Read more in Amazon's Grateful Dead Store

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American Beauty + Workingman's Dead + Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses)
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 25, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 1970
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00007LTIL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,440 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Box Of Rain
2. Friend Of the Devil
3. Sugar Magnolia
4. Operator
5. Candyman
6. Ripple
7. Brokedown Palace
8. Till the Morning Comes
9. Attics Of My Life
10. Truckin'
11. Truckin'
12. Friend Of the Devil
13. Candyman
14. Till the Morning Comes
15. Attics Of My Life
16. Truckin'
17. Bonus Track 1
18. Bonus Track 2

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Six extra tracks including one of the few live performances of Till the Morning Comes !

Who says discipline is a bad thing? No one who's heard American Beauty, the Dead's greatest studio achievement. Showcasing 10 concise, country-rooted gems that sound equally good whether you're hanging on the front porch in the afternoon or nursing a bottle after hours, this one could win over many an anti-Jerry. Bewildered by loss both personal and social--the hippie dream was quickly crashing by Beauty's 1970 release date--the band put its querulousness ("Box of Rain") and wry humor ("Truckin'") into the service of a masterwork. The most impressive cut of all may be "Ripple," Garcia's spiritual credo. --Rickey Wright

Customer Reviews

This is by far the best studio album The Greatful Dead ever recorded.
Whether you are buying your first Dead CD or you want to add to your collection, this is the one to get.
Mike R
Live performance aside, this could be the Grateful Dead at their best.
Matthew R. Sullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The Grateful Dead's first four albums earned them the reputation of being another jam-oriented, hippy-trippy band from San Francisco. But their two classic albums from 1970--WORKINGMAN'S DEAD and AMERICAN BEAUTY--showcased their strong songwriting talents and their country, folk and bluegrass roots. The album prominently features Garcia's pedal steel playing--there is not a single Garcia guitar solo to be found anywhere!--and friend David Grisman adds mandolin on "Friend of the Devil" and "Ripple." Songs like "Sugar Magnolia," "Friend of the Devil" and "Truckin'" became permanent fixtures in their live shows.

This HDCD remastered edition by Rhino is the same one that was included as part of the 2001 box set THE GOLDEN ROAD. As such it is packed with with nearly forty minutes of bonus material, including the single version of "Truckin'" (which peaked at No. 64, making it the highest charting single of their career until "Touch of Grey" went Top 10 in 1987), as well as five live songs from various concerts from 1970: "Friend of the Devil," "Candyman," "Till the Morning Comes," "Attics of My Life" and "Truckin'." There are also two hidden tracks: a live version of "Ripple" and a hilarious 60-second radio spot promoting the Dead's then new album, which encourages listeners to buy the record and "make their duck a grateful duck."
In addition, there are some terrific photos included with the 16-page booklet along with an essay by Deadhead David Gans, who wrote last year's "Conversations with the Dead: The Grateful Dead Interview Book.
Read more ›
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By C. Burgess on December 1, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I would venture to guess that more people were lured into the magical, maniacal world of the Grateful Dead through American Beauty than any other way. More times than I can count, I've seen a non-Deadhead listen to this album, be blown away, and slowly join the rest of us in our nirvana. American Beauty features lyrical, complex songs and straight-forward American Folk music. "Ripple" may be the most beautiful song ever written. "Box of Rain" is funny and poignant. And I dare you not to break into a huge grin during "Sugar Magnolia." While this is a much different Grateful Dead from what you saw in concert, it is equally glorious.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By James H. Luscombe on March 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Doesn't everybody already own this album? I'm an old Deadhead - so you can calibrate my remarks. This is the best place to start in learning about the GD. If you had to own to just one GD album, this would be it. Box of Rain, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace, Ripple - all beautiful poetry in their own right. Hunter-Garcia, what a KNOCKOUT combination! Cherish well Jerry's voice here - as his singing voice declined markedly in his later years. What a burst of creativity American Beauty is. Buy this one, then go listen to some of their live albums - Live Dead, the "Skull & Roses" album, or Europe 72, and you'll get a glimpse of what it was all about.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Douglas LaRose on July 2, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I always feared having to write a review of this album, but I guess I can accept it as a challenge, and attempt the impossible. For truly, how could one review something like a part of their lives, a place where they lived, or a transitioning period? To me the album brings on smells, tastes, and visions from all three of those stages.
Objectively, American Beauty has its flaws. The songs were done in the studio, something the band never looked forward to, and a little bittle of evolution, well, took some of these songs a long way. Look at Sugar Magnolia and Truckin' for instance, two of the bands most famous works, they never became great songs until they played them live, let them evolve, unfold, and bloom. Any experienced listener would take a live Truckin' or Sugar Magnolia over the studio versions anyday. But that doesn't really matter, because what the rest of the album has to offer is probably the best of what folk and rock music have to offer....
Box of Rain, Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Candyman, Friend of the Devil, and Attics of My Life.
Of all the jazz, classical music, folk & roots music, and world & ethnic music I have ever listened to, I still have not found songs which parallel these in their strength and grandeur. These are'nt merely songs, these are moments, these are Zen watercolor paintings, and they are the most sincere, and human pieces of art that I have ever come to know.
Coming to know these songs was like developing a new sense for me. It was like seeing, or smelling, or hearing for the first time, when the buddha sprang from beneath the bodhi tree he must have felt similar. I truly envy you if you have never listened to these songs, I would pay astronomical amounts of money to hear these songs again for the first time.
But then again, that was another time, another world....
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Stodder on April 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"American Beauty" is a testament to what the Grateful Dead were capable of if they put their minds to making great music.

The Garcia-Hunter songwriting team hits its stride with this album. Over about a three-year period from 1969-72, those two fellows wrote most of (not "all" as I'd written previously) the songs on this album, "Workingman's Dead" (which includes "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," and "Cumberland Blues") the non-covers on the live "Grateful Dead" (i.e. "Bertha," "Wharf Rat") and "Europe '72 (i.e. "He's Gone," "Tennessee Jed," "Ramble On Rose," "Brown-eyed Woman."), songs for Jerry Garcia's first solo album ("Sugaree," "The Wheel," "Bird Song" "The Deal" among others) and "Wake of the Flood" ("Here Comes Sunshine," "Mississippi Half Step Toodle-ooo"). That's quite an output! After that, they slowed down considerably, and the band made itself a lengthy career performing sets all over the world for 20 more years, sets that largely consisted of songs from this period.

This album is the best of them all, because the Dead put their heart into making this recording. It is a close, intimate record, with only one real rock song, lots of acoustic guitar, Garcia's magnificent pedal steel, and David Grisman mandolin, and harmony singing that is fully the equal of CSNY, the Band or Simon & Garfunkel on songs like "Attics of My Life" and "Brokedown Palace." Phil Lesh is brilliant on this album; he is the glue that gives this album its subtle swing and sonic thickness.

We can't ask our favorite artists to always be peaking. Not every album can be "Pet Sounds" or "Sticky Fingers," not even if their creators are geniuses. So it goes--the Dead never equalled "American Beauty," and it's hard to understand why not. But at least we have this, and it's a musical miracle that will always sound fresh.
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Topic From this Discussion
Are The Zac Brown Band the new Grateful Dead?
I see your connection. But their first Nashville CD killed all of that. Foundation was good, and Zac is a very good lead guitar player
Jun 13, 2011 by James Moulton |  See all 4 posts
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