There and Back Again
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Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh's first solo album (not counting Seastones, his 1975 electronic collaboration with Ned Lagin) traffics more in Springsteenian arena rock than in the jazzily extended high-wire improvisations of his live shows. While the music lacks the lilt of Lesh's former combo, the band is tight and Dead lyricist Robert Hunter's verses are as evocative, regretful, and optimistic as ever--usually at the same time. Song after song alludes to a golden age of rock hedonism while simultaneously reassuring listeners that the past can be recaptured in the here and now. "Give it up for love, so I've been told," sings deep-throated Lesh in the barrelhouse "Rock-a-Roll Blues," "It seldom gets younger but it never gets old." Guitarist Warren Haynes, who contributes a handful of downbeat power ballads, smears the record with his signature slide playing while fellow guitarist Jimmy Herring bobs and weaves like Bob Weir to Haynes's Jerry Garcia. It's a nostalgia trip for sure, but it just might do until the real thing reappears. --Hazel Luftglass
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First of all let me say that this is a 5 star album. This band is tighter than two coats of paint, the musicianship is tremendous, to say the least.Phil does his usual spot on job on the bass,the great Jimmy Herring on one guitar, Rob Barraco playing keyboards & John Molo on drums, and having Warren Haynes from Gov't Mule along is icing on the cake, Haynes writes wonderful songs , and two of them on here that he wrote alone stand out (he actually wrote three of these songs solo & co-wrote one)with his best . "The Real Thing" just sends chills down my spine, listening to Haynes singing his heart out, about a person who just can not get it together. "Patchwork Quilt" is kind of an ode to Jerry Garcia, another great tune.
The songs written with Robert Hunter are also so very good, what a lyricist he is.
Like I say this whole disc is terrific, and it looks like it is OOP so I would grab it while you can.
If you want to hear more of Warren, get some Gov't Mule or Allmans from the early 1990's. The other sliger on the Cd is Jimmy Herring- no slouch either! Former ARU man, he carries the tunes and funks it up a bit. For more of Herring get his latest "Project Z". Phil still carries a good bass, but thankfully his vocals are relegated to backing.
Get it, and have a great time!
All in all a great effort for the studio portion of the album.
The bonus CD is where the real treat is, where the band shows what they do live. The whole CD is great.
Regarding the studio recordings, read the previous reviews. They cover the disc fairly and well. I won't waste time and space repeating what's already been said.
Now let's move on to the real jewel in this package -- the bonus disc.
On this disc, Lesh steps into his familiar role of anti-frontman. Although he does take a few vocal turns on these live performances, Lesh mostly does what he does best, create bass lines that manage to drive and snake through the music all at the same time. Phil Lesh is a monster bass player. He has been for years and he hasn't lost his touch (Phil, if you read this, please follow Jack Cassidy's example. Make an instructional video).
The disc opens with Passenger, a personal favorite of mine. The cut features burning slide guitar, an extremely hot organ solo and rough, but dead on vocals. With each of the following cuts, the disc just gets better and better.
St. Stephen, Dark Star, The Eleven (another personal favorite) are all warhorses from Lesh's days with the Grateful Dead. If you've listened to the Grateful Dead at all, you've at least heard the clasic versions of these songs as they were captured on "Live/Dead." The performances by Phil and his friends pay homage to the "Live/Dead" versions without aping them. The music sparkles throughout. The closing cut, "The Eleven" is a joyful romp. Like the Dead, Phil and friends can truly swing in meters that would tie most bands in knots.
"There and Back Again" is a solid disc that holds up to repeated listenings. It rates close to four stars. However, as I said earlier, it's the bonus disc that's the real jewel here. It hasn't left my car's CD player since the first time I loaded it. The four live recordings included on this disc all rate as five star road music delux!