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American Beauty Import

4.8 out of 5 stars 352 customer reviews

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American Beauty
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Audio CD, Import, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Grateful Dead American Beauty German CD album

Amazon.com

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: 1970
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Warner Bros UK
  • ASIN: B000002KBH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,047 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 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.
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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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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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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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Format: Audio CD
This is truly a beautiful album--it's certainly in my Top 5. Basically what you have to know about "American Beauty" is that if you've been hearing about the Grateful Dead your entire life but haven't gotten around to checking them out, this is where to start. The majority of Deadheads would agree that they were never better in the studio than documented here. It contains several of the best (and most well-known) songs in their entire catalogue, including "Sugar Magnolia," "Friend of the Devil," "Truckin'," and the cream of the crop: the absolutely gorgeous "Ripple" (with mandolin by David Grisman). Furthermore, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was still alive, who was an important figure in the band's blues roots.

I think the 1969 live album, "Live/Dead" is just as musically accomplished as "American Beauty." However, many new listeners may find it much less accessible and won't be able to immediately digest a 23-minute version of "Dark Star." These are streamlined songs, most of them lasting about 4 minutes. Again--if you're curious about the Grateful Dead, I assure you this is by far the best place to start. And I assure you that you'll find it to be an amazing and beautiful contribution to music.
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