What does it sound like?:
Perhaps the most experimental album in the Dead’s catalogue gets a 50th anniversary two disc reissue. Originally issued in 1968, this was the album where Bob Weir wanted to capture the sound of ‘thick air’, and which Jerry Garcia described as being ‘mixed for the hallucinations.’
It’s certainly quite an ear opening selection at times and, although it marks the debut of second drummer Mickey Hart, arguably the most influential person on this set is avant-garde keyboardist Tom Constanten, whose contributions push the music into some very oblique territories. The album mixes multiple live and studio recordings of each piece to produce an amalgam of the two, giving an end result which is neither a live album nor a studio one, as the band experimented to discover how a recording studio worked and what could be achieved within its limits. This musical collage brought forth pieces such as That’s It For The Other One, the frankly odd New Potato Caboose, and Alligator, one of the first co-writes with Robert Hunter.
The first cd also includes the 1971 remix of the album supervised by Phil Lesh, although the differences are subtle to the point of being indiscernible to me. Oddly the bonus tracks that appeared on 2001’s expanded reissue are nowhere to be found, even though they could have been comfortably accommodated. Instead we get a previously unreleased live show from Winterland recorded in October 1967, a show which both marked Hart’s live debut with the band and also included early versions of a couple of then unreleased tracks, giving a preview of what to expect from the subsequent album. At only about an hour, it’s a bit on the short side and the mix is quite primitive, but it does also include good versions of Morning Dew and Cold Rain and Snow.
What does it all *mean*?
The faster we go, the rounder we get.
Goes well with…
The drugs of your choice.
Might suit people who like…
Improvisational compositions, psychedelia, being on the bus.