Wednesday, September 30

workingman's dead

Growing up in Vermont in the 70's/80's you were exposed to a lot of tie dye and taped Dead shows; which can backfire... but the more stripped down Workingman's Dead was a keeper from the first listen. The fourth studio album by the Grateful Dead was released in 1970 and featured no space jams, noodling nor drum solos. It was songs of pit men and train drivers and almost rootsy tunes. Oh, and great freekin Mouse and Kelley cover. Rhino Records reissued WMD in 2003 w a bunch of bonus tracks.

Original LP tracks:
Uncle John's Band
High Time (not my fave)
Dire Wolf
New Speedway Boogie
Cumberland Blues
Black Peter
Easy Wind
Casey Jones

Laurence Upton describes it well: "Any ill-informed Dead Head who bought this upon its release in June 1970, expecting more of the acid-drenched blues and psychedelia of such recent predecessors as Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa, must have had a considerable shock when they dropped the needle into the groove, and track one, Uncle John's Band, began to play.

The Dead had gone back to their roots, the music they grew up with, and their lyricist, Robert Hunter, had risen to the challenge with songs about miners and engineers that belonged within a rich musical tradition, largely forgotten, that was being re-invented by artists like the Band and Ry Cooder.

When they entered the studios behind the Fillmore for two weeks in February 1970 they had been coached in harmony by Crosby, Stills and Nash, knew all the songs they were to record and even the order they were to appear on the album, and were completely focused on their mission."

2 comments:

mcv said...

In VT one was exposed (immersed?) in a constant hum of the Dead & the Doors.

Maybe a bit of Pink Floyd in there, but that was nothing compared to the flood of Doors-and-Dead, Doors-and-Dead, Doors-and-Dead.

If you lived in a VT valley you couldn't really pull this stuff in on the radio--all the stations were off west. So did the habit come in on the record collections of Parents?

Jeff said...

amen.