ARTIST: The Grateful Dead
TITLE: The Grateful Dead
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: #73
SINGLES: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), Viola Lee Blues
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Morning Dew, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
LINEUP: Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Pigpen McKernan, Bob Weir
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Already legendary around San Francisco, the ultimate jam bands first album finds them tentative in the studio at times, but unleashes a few classics.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Grateful Dead were already known for their jammy explorations in the San Francisco area, especially since they were known as the ‘house band’ for the Acid Tests, and during performances around the area.
Translating that to the studio, especially in 1967, would be difficult, especially when the band did want to sell records and get on the radio. There were several shorter songs on here that really don’t show the Dead at their best. They seem rushed and tentative – like they were trying too hard to not make a mistake and be on point for radio.
The songs that do work are the explorations like “Morning Dew” and “Viola Lee Blues” where they let themselves go into blues based jams.
All in all this is an OK album, but it would be best to seek out early live stuff to find the best of this incarnation (of course sound quality there could be an issue).
NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded this in four days in LA.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes with bonus cuts and edits and a live version of “Viola Lee Blues”.
GRADE: B: Not a bad album for the time. The longer songs are the ones that you’ll remember.