Grateful Dead

The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)The Grateful Dead (1967)
China Cat SunflowerAoxomoxoa
Ramble On RoseEurope '72
Uncle John's BandWorkingman's Dead
Sugar MagnoliaAmerican Beauty
Weather Report SuiteWake Of The Flood
Scarlet BegoniasFrom The Mars Hotel
Terrapin Part 1Terrapin Station
Touch Of GreyIn The Dark
Wharf RatGrateful Dead (Live 1971)

Grateful Dead photo

Grateful Dead 1971 (l to r): Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir – photo: Bob Seideman, Skull & Roses album inner gatefold (1971)



Dead playlist



Contributors: Rob Millis & Merric Davidson

Grateful Dead (Part 1: The “Pigpen” years, 1967-72)

“Not big, not clever and no-one is laughing” is an oft-uttered phrase. Not true of the Grateful Dead who were HUGE … had improvisional skills that many a jazz band would have killed for and always delivered with good humour (that the same jazz band really should have killed for, but wouldn’t dream of it …).

I look back at some of the earlier articles I have written for this site and they are a blow-by-blow account of the band. With such a history and legacy as the Dead, I’ll skip that. Were this a search engine, the keywords “San Francisco” “Haight Ashbury” “LSD” “Ken Kesey” would suffice to set the scene. Let’s go as far as saying that, by and large, the Dead were a group of people present very early on in the Acid Rock scene and via an ability to adapt, by far and away the longest lasting, if you separate Jefferson Airplane from Starship (and we owe them that).

The late, great Jerry Garcia was a bluegrass banjo hotshot turned lead guitarist, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was a blues singer/collector who also played organ and harmonica. Along the way they met young guitarist Bob Weir and added Garcia’s pal Phil Lesh – a classically trained electronic composer – who had all the theory but no chosen instrument until Garcia got him a bass and ran through the basics of it with him. And Bill Kreutzmann; summed up by that sentence on their first LP: Bill The Drummer. They had a band first called The Warlocks, but a name change followed to suit the far-out times. And after a couple of local singles so did a proper record deal – with Warner Brothers.

The 1967 eponymous first LP has often been criticized for being too “speed freak” frantic compared to the dope’n’acid sophistication of their increasingly free-form gigs. Maybe, but it is endearing with hindsight and I have to say that for any faults I love that record. So much so, I’ll take the opener The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion). Were we not limited to the Topper Ten, I’d have Beat It On Down The Line – a Jesse Fuller song turned rocker with Garcia’s bluegrass touch well to the fore in the guitar break – and Viola Lee Blues too – a lengthier workout that saw the archaic Noah Lewis jug blues stomp re-invented as acid rock. Bassist Lesh (I think it was) said it was the one moment of the LP that still sounded like the band, given the development of the act while awaiting release of the platter.

As the band evolved into the jamming juggernaut that the concert style of Haight Ashbury-ites demanded, it was decided that Pigpen’s little Vox organ and spirited (but no foil for Garcia, musically) comping on it was a bit rinky-dink and for the next three albums (eventually live work too), Lesh’s old music college buddy Tom Constanten was drafted in to augment the band on keyboards and free Pigpen to concentrate on his stronger talents of blues harp and vocals. They also added Mickey Hart as a second drummer. See, the Allmans didn’t think of it.

Maybe it was the avant-garde background of Lesh allied to the acid era of rock and roll that ushered in Anthem Of The Sun in 1968. To combat the lack of “what the band is actually like when you see them” gripes they had felt about the debut, the Dead set about taping lots of late 1967 shows and skillfully weaved chunks of these tapes together along with studio parts to help knit it all together (it wasn’t a live album in conception). This cost a fortune, took months and saw engineers walk out exasperated as well as earning the band a terrible reputation at Warner Brothers! The “Classic Albums” TV series episode “Anthem To Beauty” dealing with the Dead from 1968-70 is worth tracking down almost just for the portion of it that recounts their relationship with the record company during Anthem Of The Sun. The tracks are arranged in suite style and I was tempted by That’s It For The Other One for my ten, but the album is such a “whole” that I reasoned there was no place for it in ten selections for the novice. A later purchase!

Ah, Aoxomoxoa. That album. That sleeve. Another huge studio bill for what Garcia wanted as his masterpiece. You can read this album two ways: either the last “psychedelic” release by the band before the country rock period or (as I prefer) the first signs of country rock creeping in as the acid scene dwindled. True, What’s Become Of The Baby is by far and away their most difficult and inaccessible composition (basically Garcia’s chanting, through what sounds like a Leslie cabinet and with turbulent sound effects) but this contrasts with Dupree’s Diamond Blues, a folksy jug-band ditty. This song, along with the electric and endearingly shambolic (not an easy song to play and delivered as if about to fall to pieces any moment) Doin’ That Rag were on my shortlist for the Topper Ten, but China Cat Sunflower was also there, became a live staple forever more, and we cannot ignore it. Opener St Stephen also appeared on the next release: the classic Live/Dead from 1969, oft remembered for the definitive version of Dark Star, an in-concert favourite that had never graced an album as a studio recording. It was actually tried as a single but the truth is it needed an album side to stretch out over. Before the “What! No Dark Star?” cries go up, remember I have only five choices from 1967-72 in my half of the Topper Ten and – blasphemy or no – I’m not sure Dark Star is a great choice for a novice wanting to explore the band for the first time, as I said of Anthem Of The Sun before.

The eternal dilemma for any iconic sixties band would be what the seventies would hold for them and this applied twofold for the San Francisco bands – so steeped in acid culture that with the death of that scene, it was debatable whether they’d have a place at all; The Band (albums) and Creedence Clearwater Revival (singles) were ruling the roost with their return to rootsy songs, free of the long-winded jamming and drug scene excess of the music they were displacing with every turn (even in the UK this was felt: Cream themselves split up after hearing Music From Big Pink and declaring themselves “old hat” and The Rolling Stones delivered the back-to-basics Beggars Banquet – a return to form after unsatisfactory experiments with psychedelia). Bands like Country Joe and The Fish would falter; Jefferson Airplane started to fragment and the country blues of splinter group Hot Tuna became more relevant. And the Grateful Dead (sans Mickey Hart and Tom Constanten) came out of it smiling.

Like Rubber Soul and Revolver, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty (both 1970) are often seen as one body of work and so we will treat them here. Short songs (of course, the band were lucky to have lyricist Robert Hunter who could write for any style you could throw at him), vocal harmonies, good “ensemble” playing instead of long jams were the order of the day and Garcia’s newfound love of the pedal steel (for a while he did double duty in both the Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage on steel) added to the colour of the LPs, along with mandolin from his pal David Grisman and keyboards from Howard Wales who’d recorded an LP, Hooteroll, with Garcia around this time. Uncle John’s Band opened Workingman’s Dead and Casey Jones closed it. Both are classics, as is Sugar Magnolia from American Beauty, widely thought of as the first evidence of Bob Weir maturing and stepping up with Garcia as a featured writer and singer. The bluesy style of Pigpen started to make more sense once again with acid rock gone; his Operator was a highlight. Even bassist Lesh took a rare lead vocal on Box Of Rain. In truth, any Topper Ten for the Dead cannot displace one sure-fire tip: if you are wondering where to start on your journey through the back catalogue of the band, you can never go wrong with American Beauty as a first purchase. Robert Hunter shone on these releases; up against the standards of storytelling that Robbie Robertson had recently set, Hunter produced some of his finest work.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

(from “Ripple”)

No studio LP followed in 1971 but a live double – actually called Grateful Dead but to avoid confusion with the debut generally referred to as Skull and Roses after the cover and, of course, the two key elements of the band’s various logos and assorted pieces of artwork over the years. If we had more than ten choices I’d suggest Bertha and Wharf Rat from here – and Merric has graciously allowed the latter among his five choices of the Topper Ten. Also notable from the same year was the band appearing on “Fillmore: The Last Days” movie and 3-LP set, playing Casey Jones and a rollicking Johnny B. Goode.

Nor did 1972 herald a studio LP, but Garcia, Weir, lyricist Hunter and Mickey Hart (though no longer a member of the Dead) all had good solo releases out and the main act toured Europe in that same year, documented in the seminal triple live LP Europe ’72, from which I’ll go for Ramble On Rose and Brown Eyed Woman. Pianist Keith Godchaux had been drafted in to play piano and for that brief period, like The Band, we could enjoy the magic of organ and piano within the Grateful Dead. But the truth was somewhat sadder: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was not in good shape – his chubby Hells Angel look gone; now painfully thin in a straw hat – and Godchaux was effectively there in case Pigpen had to bail out at any point. He stopped gigging shortly after the band returned home and sadly died in 1973. A live LP entitled Bear’s Choice was released in 1973 consisting of 1971 material, airing Pigpen’s in-concert favourite of a run through Otis Redding’s Hard To Handle. But there now – with the passing of their founder member, nominal frontman, harmonica player, organist and singer, my account of the Dead ends, and the baton now passes to your host and webmaster.

Footnote: The Dead are notorious for taping almost every concert they ever did, allowing others to do so and the sheer quantity of retrospective concert releases is actually quite daunting. I have kept my purchases to 1969/70 and Europe 1972 and would recommend the Steppin’ Out 4CD set taken from the British dates of the ’72 jaunt. If you become an incurable addict, fret not, there is enough material on the Grateful Dead Live Music Archive to fuel a lifetime of happy listening. Or there is another all-inclusive option, which Merric speaks of below and I wish now I had purchased!

Rob Millis


Grateful Dead (Part 2: The “post-Pigpen” years, 1973 onwards)

It’s the 8th of April 1972 and I’m on my way to the Empire Pool Wembley to see the Grateful Dead for the first time. A bit of a late starter when it came to the Dead; bought the first album for a friend but was way more into Airplane, Spirit, Love, Country Joe. That concert changed everything. Over the next forty years, the Dead would become the constant west coast music of choice – old friends. As Rob has written above, GD concerts were documented and taped so it’s easy and fun to check back on the setlists. My first live encounter apparently featured, among others, Bertha, Me & My Uncle, Deal, Cumberland Blues, Brown Eyed Woman, Beat It On Down The Line, Playin’ In The Band, Looks Like Rain, Casey Jones, Truckin’, Dark Star, Sugar Magnolia, Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), One More Saturday Night. This was the second night of the Europe ’72 tour that Rob refers to. It was a good long night. It was a fucking fantastic night and my priceless ticket cost £1. You can now buy the whole of that European tour on 72 CDs for several hundred pounds if you can still find a set.

The sixth Grateful Dead studio album, the first on their own label, Wake Of The Flood, with its evocative sleeve by the great Rick Griffin (see also Aoxomoxoa and Without A Net), was released in 1973 and is the first post-Pigpen, and it’s a great favourite. Opening with the goodtime jollity of the Garcia/Hunter penned, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, a concert staple with a classic Robert Hunter mysterioso lyric: “On the day when I was born Daddy sat down and cried, I had the mark just as plain as day could not be denied” but with optimistic finale, “Farewell to you old Southern skies, I’m on my way, on my way … across the Rio Grandeeo, across the lazy river.” It’s Hunter in microcosm, and what a blessing he was to the band. Then, there’s the magnificence of the closer, Bob Weir’s epic Weather Report Suite, and this wonderful, massively underrated LP is bolstered by two more brilliant Garcia/Hunter songs that close side one, Row Jimmy and Stella Blue, and two more that open side two.

The plaintive Row Jimmy is a plateau of sorts for the Dead, a grower with Garcia guitar that just groans and moans, “That’s the way it’s been in town, ever since they tore the jukebox down, two bit piece don’t buy no more, not so much as it done before.” And Stella Blue which follows, and ends side one, its natural companion. Garcia with his beautiful fragile eggshell voice matched with aching guitar, “All the years combine, they melt into a dream, a broken angel sings from a guitar, in the end there’s just a song comes cryin’ up the night, thru all the broken dreams and vanished years, Stella blue”, and helped along no end by the harmonies of Donna Godchaux with her fella Keith on piano, this is a sensitive, slightly soporific love song but then it starts to soar and just keeps going, “It all rolls into one and nothing comes for free, there’s nothing you can hold, for very long, and when you hear that song come crying like the wind, it seems like all this life was just a dream.”

And after the two other Garcia/Hunter compositions on side two, we arrive at Bob’s magnum opus, Weather Report Suite, which, as they say, is worth the price of admission alone. And the Weir/Garcia counterpoint on this, and throughout the album, and the ones that precede and follow, is why Dead fans, Deadheads, are so loyal and in love with this force of nature, the forever axis of Bob and Jerry, and Phil and Bill, that carried the band through. From its first few notes, Weather Report Suite, holds and grips and I can’t recommend these twelve minutes highly enough, and it’s going into the toppermost at the expense of Jimmy and Stella!

Another jaunty, rollicking, witty track from Garcia/Hunter opens From The Mars Hotel, the next album which is half fantastic and half okay; a patchwork quilt, but when it’s good it’s very, very fine. U.S. Blues rolls along with a boogie piano:

Red and white, blue suede shoes, I’m Uncle Sam, how do you do?
Gimme five, I’m still alive, ain’t no luck, I learned to duck.
Check my pulse, it don’t change. Stay seventy-two come shine or rain.
Wave the flag, pop the bag, rock the boat, skin the goat.

I’m Uncle Sam, that’s who I am; been hidin’ out in a rock and roll band.
Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan.
Shine your shoes, light your fuse, can you use them ol’ U.S. Blues?
I’ll drink your health, share your wealth, run your life, steal your wife.

A fine starter to get you in the mood. Then it’s a seismic shift to track two, the enigmatic China Doll, and it’s just one of three more Garcia/Hunter tracks on this album (Scarlet Begonias and Ship Of Fools, the others) that are jostling for the number two slot on my topper five. “She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes, and I knew without asking she was into the blues, she wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls, I knew right away she was not like other girls…” They played both this, and Ship Of Fools, when I saw them at the Alexandra Palace in September 1974. In fact, to look at that setlist today and to see they finished with three personal favourites: Truckin’, Wharf Rat, Uncle John’s Band, before encoring with U.S. Blues – heavens to Betsy, hello Scarlet Begonias, I dig you the most.

The Grateful Dead’s eighth studio album, Blues For Allah (with superb cover art from Philip Garris), had Mickey Hart returning to drum duty alongside Bill Kreutzmann and with Donna Godchaux in a more outfront role on some of the vocals. Sweet voice. The album was made at a time in 1975 when the band were on a short “sabbatical” from touring, indeed at one stage it seemed it might be the last of it, but thankfully no, no, no. All this makes the appearance of the Bob Weir/John Barlow number, The Music Never Stopped, somewhat ironic. It’s a tussle between that one and the first two tracks, Help On The Way/Slipknot and Franklin’s Tower, but in the end none got in because there’s just not enough room!

Ah, Terrapin Station (1977). What can you say about Terrapin Part 1. Enthusiasts will agree with me that it’s a top ten Dead track (or one side of an LP in fact) and it’s one that I’ll put on whenever I’ve got a spare 16 minutes to prepare for something like going out or staying in. I just like to play it – a lot. Parts of Terrapin Station became concert favourites but I don’t think there was ever a Terrapin Part 2. Someone’ll tell me. It is though a Robert Hunter masterwork, try this:

While the story teller speaks, a door within the fire creaks
Suddenly flies open, and a girl is standing there.
Eyes alight, with glowing hair, all that fancy paints as fair,
She takes her fan and throws it, in the lions den.

And this:

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune.

I also love Bob Weir’s brilliant Estimated Prophet from this one, and his Samson & Delilah, a version of Blind Willie Johnson’s If I Had My Way, I Would Tear This Building Down (see Topperpost #121). Donna Godchaux’ own song, Sunrise, is stunning and a gorgeous end to side one. Terrapin Station carries a thread through it which makes it a complete tapestry and it’s one of the very best Grateful Dead albums.

The last album with Mr & Mrs Godchaux was the band’s second for Arista, Shakedown Street (1978). Produced by Lowell George, it has its moments but no too many: the foot-tapping music of the title track, Shakedown Street, and Bob’s rockin’ I Need A Miracle will stand out.

Brent Mydland replaced Keith Godchaux on keyboards and, ahem, occasional vocals for album number eleven. Go To Heaven (1980) wasn’t well received and some of it is far, far away from the Dead in their prime but it does contain the gentle, much-performed Garcia/Hunter classic, Althea.

From the final two albums, In The Dark (1987) and Built To Last (1989) comes my fourth selection of the five I’ve been allotted. Touch Of Grey from In The Dark was the band’s first (and last) top ten record complete with incredibly impactful video bringing the Dead a whole new young fan base. “We will get by. We will survive.” Honourable mention must also go to the Weir/Barlow/Mydland track two, Hell In A Bucket, from In The Dark. “I may be going to hell in a bucket babe, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.”

And for my last trick, I need to have one from Rob’s 67-72 period, and that’s Wharf Rat and the best-known version is on Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses) from 1971 and mentioned by Rob above. Try it for size: “Half of my life, I spent doin’ time for some other fucker’s crime, the other half found me stumbling round drunk on Burgundy wine.” I’m having it in my five, can’t do without it, and that’s it.

If you’re investigating the Dead of this period, and you want to check some of the multitudinous live albums out there, two of the best are Dead Set and Reckoning (both 1981) – companion albums as they take recordings from the same concerts in the previous year – and the spectacular triple album, Without A Net (1990). Also, the visual experience that is The Grateful Dead Movie (1976) is essential, filmed at San Francisco’s Winterland during the Steal Your Face tour: “In 50 years when people want to know what a rock concert was like, they’ll refer to this movie.” The Village Voice

The Dead played the last of over 2,300 concerts in Chicago in 1995. Jerry’s been gone eighteen years. Bob and Phil are still playing … Mickey and Bill too.

It’s a cold, windy day in December in England in 2013 and I’m listening yet again to American Beauty. I saw the Grateful Dead four times in London in ’72, ’74, ’76, ’90 and I wish it had been many more. But we’ve still got the music – we’ll always have the music – and what a long strange trip it still is.

Merric Davidson



Official Site of the Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia official site

Bob Weir official site

Phil Lesh official site

Philzone – the phan site

Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (Wikipedia)

Mickey Hart official site

Bill Kreutzmann official site

Robert Hunter Archive

The Donna Jean Godchaux Band website

Grateful Dead Live Music Archive

Grateful Dead Family Discography

Grateful Dead Archive Online

A Grateful Dead Bookshelf

Grateful Dead Guide – articles on songs & performances

Grateful Dead Listening Guide

Grateful Dead biography (Apple Music)

Amongst all the excitement and fervour and touring, the members of the Grateful Dead made several “solo” albums and many of them are on a par with the best of the Dead, the “solo” songs regularly featuring in concert. So, if you’d like to give us a Jerry toppermost, or Bob “Ace” Weir in any of his band guises, or the great Robert Hunter’s songs away from the Dead (try Tales Of The Great Rum Runners, 1974), or Mickey Hart with a plethora of albums, or … we’d love to hear from you.

TopperPost #142


  1. Rob Millis
    Dec 7, 2013

    To save anybody else the bother: What!! No… Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Cream Puff War, Morning Dew, New New Minglewood Blues, Born Cross Eyed, Alligator, Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks), Rosemary, Mountains of the Moon, Cosmic Charlie, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, The Eleven, And We Bid You Goodnight, Turn On Your Lovelight, High Time, New Speedway Boogie, Dire Wolf, Easy Wind (Etc….) And NO mention of Bob Weir’s “Ace” LP which effectively was the 1972 Dead studio LP. Tut tut!!!!

  2. Peter Viney
    Dec 7, 2013

    You guys have got through a staggering task of distillation and produced an excellent list. In terms of quantity the Dead are the most difficult one of all the Toppermosts, and there are 2200 shows apparently existing on tape (though in terms of quality I’d say Dylan is the hardest). Even so, I’d probably have chosen five of your ten (Uncle John’s Band, Sugar Magnolia, Scarlet Begonias, Ramble On Rose, Touch Of Grey). I reckon this will be a long discussion one too, inevitably, and I was already typing “Wot! No Dire Wolf …” when I read Rob’s comment. The GD cause polarization, and you’re right to suggest “American Beauty” as a first purchase. I’d put it another way, and say Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty are essential Americana albums, both of which are loved by many people who don’t actually like the Grateful Dead. Listening to American Beauty, I can’t see which track you could possibly eliminate, though I might take Truckin’ ahead of Operator. Skulls and Roses and Europe 72 finish off that ”middle” era for me. On Dark Star, it is the essential leap between the very accessible melodic two albums mentioned and the improvisational band. For me, I first met the GD in 1967 through people who had come back from the USA with Airplane, The Mothers and the GD. I actively disliked the GD albums before Live / Dead , and Dark Star was the breakthrough track for me. You can of course cover many versions by getting the “Grayfolded” CD assembled from years of different live performances. Phew. My other five? Dark Star, Casey Jones, Dire Wolf, Ripple, Truckin’. Yes, I am sticking to those three sequential albums! I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but after Jerry Garcia (and I do have a Jerry Garcia necktie), Phil Lesh is the outstanding talent for me. One of many ties between Airplane and The Dead are that Casady & Lesh are both phenomenally talented and innovative bass guitarists working with equally brilliant guitarists in Garcia and Kaukonen. In both cases I think the bass leads the rhythm section. Incidentally, Jorma Kaukonen did an excellent recent cover of Operator. Festival Express (my review here) put The Dead and The Band together on a train, and they bonded (maybe no one repeated Robbie Robertson’s comments from “Rolling Stone” on West Coast Bands) and the Garcia/Danko/Joplin sequence is always worth watching.

  3. Rob Millis
    Dec 7, 2013

    Thanks Peter, I agree on Casady/Lesh but would also stand up for both Kreutzmann and Spencer Dryden. With JA we got the flashier Joey Covington and I thought he made not a jot of difference, if anything the balancing act was dependent on a simple, solid drummer to enable enough room for the guitars and bass to soar. In the Dead we got Mickey Hart added and (just to get some debate going) I have to say I found this unnecessary. It’s only recently dawned on me that in his brief absence from 1970 to whenever it was, that the band had (in our opinion) their golden period from Workingman’s Dead to Europe ’72 without Hart. I’m not sure how those gloriously simple songs would have been with two drum kits flailing away like billy-o; listen to something like Ramble On Rose and the thing that will hit you is how much air there is in the music even with Lesh playing quite animated parts rather than the root/fifth that most bassists would play. It’s interesting that Rick Danko is not so different. He was certainly unconventional as a bassist, and though not anywhere near as busy or virtuoso soloist as Lesh/Casady, I think you may have something there Peter: the Americana acts that wrote songs we all think are old standards when we first heard them (Ripple, Across The Great Divide) all had proper bass parts of their own, rather than just a generic walking bass or root/fifth; the fact that they were set pieces from the word go, even in areas not obvious to the casual listener, is what gives them that “standard” quality. When somebody plays an old vamp style blues now, they play a vamp blues bass part a bit like St James Infirmary. When St James Infirmary was written, “the bass part for St James Infirmary” was what the bassist played – it was new, and written for a specific composition. The bass playing of both The Band and the GD runs very deep into the character of the song, more than at first glance. We all know the Lesh, Casady and Danko ingredients were magical but I’m not sure if until this debate, we understood quite how much and in what direction the magic lay.

  4. Peter Viney
    Dec 7, 2013

    Two quick points. If you read my Festival Express review, apart from the GD, I talk about Buddy Guy trying to emulate Hendrix. When that review appeared a dozen people hastened to tell me that Buddy Guy was doing all the guitar tricks long before Hendrix, and the inspiration was the other way round. But on “West Coast” bass v drums theory, Chris Hillman is another bassist who plays fascinating parts (though again not as spectacular as Lesh & Casady). Am off to put on the first GD album (I have The Golden Road box set).

    • Rob Millis
      Dec 7, 2013

      The first album is my pre 1970 favourite; another Hart-free period and shortish songs aside from Viola Lee Blues. The band hated it and like Surrealistic Pillow, the production was certainly not up to the standards of (say) I Feel Free; small wonder that Steve Miller decided to record his first LP in London when you compare the big budget Frisco bands early efforts with the likes of Cream and Jimmy Miller’s early stuff on Island. But it is what it is; I shall have The Golden Road at my funeral.

  5. Merric Davidson
    Dec 7, 2013

    That seems like a perfectly fine choice for your big day Rob. I was thinking maybe Break On Through To The Other Side for mine, not that I have any immediate plans.

  6. Ian Ashleigh
    Dec 8, 2013

    Many thanks for the posting, whilst I’m not a total virgin when it comes to the Grateful Dead, I now have a clue as to where to start. I’ll need to consult the budget (and Santa!). Cheers.

    • Rob Millis
      Dec 8, 2013

      Thanks Ian; yes, the budget is very much a major consideration when determining where to start with the Dead, or even how far to go for those who have a few albums already.

  7. Rob Millis
    Jan 4, 2014

    As an update, boys and girls, let me mention that Father Christmas (knowing me to be having a Dead resurgence around the time of writing my part of this and then ever since) brought me a lovely thing. Not the very expensive Europe 72 chest with 72 CDs of the whole tour, but a lovely thing anyway: Europe 72 Volume 2, a 4 LP set plus booklet all on 180g vinyl. There is a CD version, but Mrs M thought that as my original volume was a vinyl, I’d want one to slot in the rack next to it, and I must admit it has been a treat to do some serious vinyl listening again: once a diehard passion that I must shamefully confess has all but died hard over the last few years. They’ve made it match beautifully, too: green WB record labels, the booklet styled just like volume one, and even Mouse’s cover art returns to the good old Ice Cream wielding bozo! A FANTASTIC listen too, no overlaps at all in either song choices from the first E72 or performance choices from the other releases from the tour (eg Hundred Year Hall, Stepping Out etc). Happy New Year, Rob

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