Thursday, April 23, 2009

Album of the Day #145: WORKINGMAN'S DEAD - Grateful Dead

Artist: Grateful Dead
Label: Warner Brothers
Songs: Uncle John's Band/High Time/Dire Wolf/New Speedway Boogie/Cumberland Blues/Black Peter/Easy Wind/Casey Jones
Music: Jerry Garcia, except "Cumberland Blues" by Jerry Garcia & Phil Lesh
Words: Robert Hunter
Produced by: Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor & Grateful Dead
Thoughts: I like listening to groups ripping into jams and such, but the fact that the Grateful Dead would do such a thing to one song for upwards of thirty minutes has always turned me off of them. I've just never got into them, mostly for this reason. However, a long time ago, I got to listen to American Beauty, which has this great acoustic folk/rock sound. Personally, I like this sound. After all, I enjoy The Byrds, CSN, Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield, so it's only natural that I enjoy listening to more of this type of music. I figured it would only be natural to also get Workingman's Dead, which is the first record where the Dead made the shift from jamming insanity to confined folk/rock. The (just) eight songs on the album are very short; only "Black Peter" reaches 5:43. Anyway, this is an amazing record. Although it is obvious that the Dead were switching genres, the fact is that they fit this mold so well. The vocals are amazing, Garcia's guitar work is pretty impressive and Robert Hunter's lyrics are perfect for this sound. I really love the roving, hand-clapping groove of "New Speedway Boogie" and the dreariness of "Easy Wind". Workingman's Dead ends with the familiar radio-hit, "Casey Jones" a great track.
Overall, as a person completely unfamiliar with the Dead (this is only the second record of theirs I've ever heard), I enjoy this album. It's a lot of fun from start to finish.

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