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Workingman's Dead

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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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Workingman's Dead + American Beauty + 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: B00007LTIK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,331 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Uncle John's Band
2. High Time
3. Dire Wolf
4. New Speedway Boogie
5. Cumberland Blues
6. Black Peter
7. Easy Wind
8. Casey Jones
9. New Speedway Boogie (Alternate Mix)
10. Dire Wolf (Live)
11. Black Peter (Live)
12. Easy Wind (Live)
13. Cumberland Blues (Live)
14. Mason's Children (Live)
15. Uncle John's Band (Live)
16. Bonus Track 1

Editorial Reviews

An alternate mix of New Speedway Boogie and six unreleased live tracks completes their 1970 country-rockin' masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

This is probably the best GRATEFUL DEAD studio release.
Of course if you are reading this you already know that this isn't just one of the Dead's best, it among the best albums ever made.
Michael L. Knapp
I recommend anyone who loves good music buy this album whether they think they're a fan of the Dead or not.
M. Kusch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 26, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The Grateful Dead's classic 1970 album gets even better on this Rhino reissue. Not only is the album more than doubled in length with bonus material, you also get a terrific live version of "Mason's Children," a band composition that was initially slated to to end side two but was left off the LP because (according to the liner notes) Garcia and Lesh thought the vocals sounded too "pop." The "hidden" bonus track is a 30-second radio spot promoting the album.
The rest of the bonus material is live versions of five of the original songs taken from concerts between 1969-1970. In addition there is an alternate mix of "New Speedway Boogie."
This single-disc release from Rhino is identical to the version included in 2001's pricey--but essential--box set THE GOLDEN ROAD (1965-1973). If you're going to own only one album from this legendary band, the nod would have to go to WORKINGMAN'S DEAD. This album sounds as fresh today as it did thirty-three years ago. (Running Time - 79:54) ESSENTIAL
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lozarithm on March 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Any ill-informed Dead Head who bought this upon its release in June 1970, expecting more of the acid-drenched blues and psychedelia of such recent predecessors as Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa, must have had a considerable shock when they dropped the needle into the groove, and track one, Uncle John's Band, began to play.

The hallmark guitar was augmented by mellifluous pedal steel and banjo, and in the place of all the weirdness and experimentation came beautifully-recorded, clean sounding, almost traditional, timeless songs, song after song with three-part harmonies and tunes you almost felt you knew already. The Dead had gone back to their roots, the music they grew up with, and their lyricist, Robert Hunter, had risen to the challenge with songs about miners and engineers that belonged within a rich musical tradition, largely forgotten, that was being re-invented by artists like the Band and Ry Cooder. When they entered the studios behind the Fillmore for two weeks in February 1970 they had been coached in harmony by Crosby, Stills and Nash, knew all the songs they were to record and even the order they were to appear on the album, and were completely focused on their mission. This, and its equally inspired sequel American Beauty, expel the myth that the Grateful Dead were a live band whose studio work was of secondary importance, and can stand up proudly against any other record.

This 79-minute edition, re-mastered in HDCD, doubles the length of the original album with live material and one alternative take.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2003
Format: Audio CD
ALL of the New GD Remasters are pretty great, but the acoustic tracks on this album really stand out. Even if you've heard the album 1000 times as I have this one, you're going to find something you've never heard before. Like it was recorded yesterday. If you don't have HDCD on your CD Player or DVD (most don't offer that feature), you can get it with a soundcard for your computer. It really makes the sound jump out at you. The bonus tracks on this and the other GD Remasters are great as well, and it's nice to see them put the empty space on the CD's to good use. Well worth the money, and a proud addition to my collection.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Archmaker VINE VOICE on November 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
We came into the Dead concert and knew something was up when Jerry Garcia sat down behind a peddle-steel guitar. Instead of the rambling, hit or miss, acid-soaked freeform type of Dead concert we were accustomed to, we heard tightly structured songs, played tightly with economy and clarity. Instead of pyschedelia we were getting blues and country-tinged folk music, albeit played electric with double drummers. It was a new incarnation of the Dead which was to become the Workingman's Dead & American Beauty. It was a surprise.

It still is surprising to listen to this album, especially for those who only know the aura & reputation of the Haight-Ashbury hippie Grateful Dead. Erase that image, and you realize you are listening to quintessential American music, with roots ranging from Appalachian folk to Cajun Bayou to the Oakie dirt farm and the fieldhand's campfire. And it rocks.

This is simply a fine and Classic album. There isn't a wasted song in the bunch, with great music matching Robert Hunter's terrific lyrics. The guitar leads trade with each other over Phil Lesh's restless bass and the rhythms laid down by Kreutzman and Hart, complex and syncopated and kick-ay. And I love Pig Pen on Easy Wind, wailing, hoppin, bluesy and ballsy. It's one of those albums solid from start to finish.

This is great American music played by an American band. It's feet are planted firmly where its title indicates, in the life and music of the workingman. It is timeless.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Ryan on June 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
From today's perspective, it's hard to imagine just how much of an impact this album had on the state of contemporary music, not least of all because it was recorded by the Grateful Dead. Up until this album, the Dead were an underground cult phenomenon with little to offer in the way of mass appeal. Furthermore, their previous studio efforts were too strange to suggest that they might be capable of something as extraordinary as what they offer here. More than anything else, the songs on Workingman's Dead sound as if they were old folk/blues songs derived from the public domain and adapted for faithful reproduction. That each song was an original, contemporary composition shows a level of maturity and growth that is simply astounding. Even more astounding is the tight focus of the songwriting. Previous studio albums by the Grateful Dead were rambling and opaque exercises in psychedelia that stood out mostly for their reckless experimentation. Here, the band doesn't waste a single note, while every word paints a specific portrait of the character portrayed.

This sudden improvement in songwriting can be credited entirely to the cementing partnership of guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter, who paired up to write six of the album's eight songs, with bassist Phil Lesh participating in another and Hunter writing one in its entirety. The name of the album derives from Garcia's recognition that Hunter's words portrayed mostly working class folk, thus making the project a "workingman's Dead." It's as accurate a description as could be applied. Whether it's a tale of a miner hoping to get work ("Cumberland Blues"), a dying laborer ("Black Peter") or a railroad jack-baller ("Easy Wind"), each character is accurately portrayed in faded sepia tones much like the album jacket.
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