Monday, January 30, 2012

A Great One-Two Punch

I've been feeling pretty crappy the past couple of days and pretty much just vegging out trying to beat this bug.  TV sucks so I played a bit of music and got caught up on some reading.  I had some Dead on and as per usual I got around to my favorites...Workingman's Dead and American Beauty (I also really love Reckoning).  I know these are the "hit" albums that everyone likes but that is for a reason...these are two pretty much perfect albums.

I was not a big Dead Head in my youth.  Yes these two have always been in my collection but the rest...not so much.  To this day I still can't stand Dark Star, The Eleven, The Other One, and don't get me started on the waste of time that is Drums>Space.  I love so much of what they did over 30 odd years and at the same time I can't stand the rest of it.  Maybe that's why I love the 1977 shows.  The Dead were so on and so much more melodic that year.  Focused jams and well played songs!

Way back in 1970 the Dead were heading into the studio with very little cash to record their fourth studio album (they had been ripped off) and went with a stripped down, back to basics sound that hearkened back to their roots rather than continue on with their psychedelic explorations.  Good choice.  This is very much a cousin to the first couple of Band releases but with a more West Coast vibe.  How can anyone find fault with these tracks:

Uncle John's Band
High Time
Dire Wolf
New Speedway Boogie
Cumberland Blues
Black Peter
Easy Wind
Casey Jones

These are some of my all time favorite Dead songs, and I suspect some of yours as well.  I never get sick of playing this album and it is probably my favorite Dead album.  Now American Beauty, also released in 1970, might also get that award.  Slightly more Rock & Roll than Workingman's Dead, it still has that great homespun sound.  Great songs played very well.  Hell, they even sang some pretty good harmonies.  The Dead would never sound this good again on any record (aside from Jerry's first "solo" album).

Box of Rain
Friend of the Devil
Sugar Magnolia
Brokedown Palace
Till the Morning Comes
Attics of My Life

The over-all tasty goodness that these two albums delivered got me thinking about other great "one-two punches".  So I'm listening again to a bunch of artists who have delivered just that...two great, I mean great not merely good, records in a row.  This should be fun.  Check back over the next couple of weeks and see what I found.

1 comment:

  1. I feel exactly the same way about the Dead. These two, "Garcia", Some of "Skull and Roses", "Mars Hotel", and "Wake of The Flood" are it.
    I don't know if you're aware that Jerry remixed Aoxomoxoa" in 1971, cleaning it up by removing most traces of psychedelia, and making the sound more like the touring Dead of the time.
    I recently, er, acquired a rip of the original vinyl, and it is different enough to be obvious.
    This will be how I experience it for the forseeable future. Funny that when I bought my first copy in 1972 I'd just missed it.
    I found it at Grateful Breed, but since then it has enjoyed a vinyl box release on Rhino so the link is kaput.