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Live / Dead
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Vinyl, Original recording remastered, April 22, 2003
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"Live/Dead" opens with the famed 23-minute version of "Dark Star". This is the ultimate Dead-jam track. The band plays off each other like seasoned pros. Jerry Garcia performs one of his greatest guitar leads here and his voice is in ship-shape throughout. This version of "Dark Star" still holds up even today.
After "Dark Star" runs its 23-minutes, it is followed directly by "Saint Stephen". The studio version of this track appears on "Aoxomoxoa" but the live version included here is much more agressive and stronger. This leads into another Dead jamfest entitled "The Eleven". The interplay between all the band members is clearly in evidence here. Bassist Phil Lesh pumps out a chordal bass structure in 11/8 while drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart lock everything into place. Jerry once again flys high on his lead guitar.
"The Eleven" leads directly into "Turn On Your Lovelight". Now, it's Pigpen's turn to steal the show. Over the course of 15-minutes, Pigpen leads the band and the audience in a swaggering sing-along. He really knew how to get the crowd going as it can clearly be heard here. Kreutzmann and Hart grab the spotlight as well performing their famed drum duet.
Next up is "Death Don't Have No Mercy", a somber piece in which you can almost feel the pain in Jerry's voice. Great musicianship here as well. Then there's the self-explanitory "Feedback", 8-minutes of it to be exact. This is another prime example of what the Dead shows were like at this time.Read more ›
Why am I telling you this? Certainly not to antagonize you. Only to make clear that when I say that the surpassing glory of the Grateful Dead was their capacity to be the world's most roof-shaking JAM BAND, it ain't because I'm a '60s acid casualty - it's because this group has universal appeal.
That's right: universal appeal, at least for anyone who appreciates intellectually and emotionally compelling instrumental, vocal, and improvisational rock music. The Dead were actually far more versatile than their detractors ever give them credit for (they played CONVINCING country, blues, and folk music - no mean feat - as well as the hardest of hardcore psychedelia, rock, and jazz-rock), but still it has to be said that they were the only group in the world that could spend 30 minutes improvising around the pedal-point signature of "Dark Star" or the hammer-lock riff of "The Other One" while completely holding a sober man's attention. The drugs, the hippie culture associated with the group, and the clutch of febrile imitators that have sprung up in the Dead's wake (yet are unworthy of holding Keith Godchaux's jockstrap) have all unfortunately obscured the brilliance of their music.
Which is a shame, because Live/Dead, the FIRST (but it warn't the last!) live album the band ever released back in 1969, lets that jammin' freak flag FLY HIGH. The shortest song on this album is a blink-and-you-missed-it 6 minutes 32 seconds, but the length of the songs shouldn't be taken to indicate laziness or indulgence.Read more ›
Sure, it can't complete blow for blow with the songs of Abbey Road or Let It Bleed, but this was a great band at the very high point of its powers with 3 of the 4 original "sides" recorded as one long 60 minute jam on perhaps their crispest night ever. (A 20 minute "Other One" jam from their first set that night shows up on the "So Many Roads" compilation and is almost equally as good.)
The main thing that differentiates this album from any of their other live albums (or famous live albums from others of the same period like Allmans - Fillmore East, which it blows away) is that it is incredibly tight. That may seem odd when talking about a jam band, but in the entire 23 minute Dark Star (probably the highlight) I don't believe there is one wasted note, one repititious thought that would have been worth wiping out in the studio.
It's pretty clear that the Dead conceived of this album as a "song cycle." They had tried this, less successfully, on Anthem of the Sun, but here it works great, with the album starting out almost ethereally with a jam out of a song we never hear (Mountains of the Moon) and ending almost as eerily with a spooky "Feedback" jam which becomes a one verse gospel dirge. In between, Dark Star builds in intensity brilliantly through successive jams off the same basic riff, St. Stephen moves wildly through multiple chord and rhythm changes, The Eleven (the only place where there may be a few wasted notes) is just wild and weird.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
oh ...Dark Star ... a very big music trip you cannot come back like before ... Live Dead never equaled ! Read morePublished 5 months ago by VéVé le DeadHead
I Love the Grateful dead and i love their live stuff the most but i couldn't for the life of me get into this album and iv'e tried a few times.. Read morePublished 7 months ago by James H.
An old favorite of ours with an incredible version of Dark Star. The rest of the album is not as good as some of their later work.Published 8 months ago by mack paul
Great 'concert' aside, as I was pondering picking up a CD version of this as my old record us stored away, it occured to me that this was one of their uglier album covers. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Art C. Phartsy
The classic album, although it is not a real concert but a well made compilation.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer