Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
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Frustrating Last "Arista Years" for Grateful Dead On 2CD Set
Anthony G Pizza | FL | 03/17/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Grateful Dead's enduring piece of Americana lies in concert. There, 30 years' preserved performances grew a musical/social counterculture whose substance abuse finally struck its leader/shepherd, guitarist Jerry Garcia, then scattered its thousands of cross-country wandering sheep. The 2CD set "Arista Years," covering the group's last 15 years' studio/live LPs for Arista Records, proves the studio was prison more than haven for America's greatest non-stop traveling show. Working with outside producers Keith Olsen (Fleetwood Mac) and Little Feat's simpatico Lowell George, and with studio musicians (including Tom Scott's cool funk solo on "Estimated Prophet") traded the Dead's musical meanderings for 70s studio precision, with inconsistent results. Disc One's highlights include 1978's near-hit "Good Lovin'" (given Latin-style backbone by the legendary Lesh/Kruetzman/Hart bottom, plus growling Bob Weir vocal and ace Garcia solo), the bouncy half-disco groove of "Shakedown Street," 1980's country rock "Alabama Getaway" and Brent Mydland's LP debut on "Far From Me." Missing are the group's take on "Dancing In The Street" (with vocals by Donna and the late Keith Godchaux) and 1980's "Don't Ease Me In."Disc two begins with songs from "In The Dark," on which the Grateful Dead hit beyond its wildest nightmares. Ironically, from strictly studio perspective, "Hell In A Bucket," "Throwing Stones" and 1987's anthemic Top 10 "Touch Of Grey" are among the Dead's most focused, pop-oriented, finest studio creations. They distill the Dead's social and lyrical strengths: its tight country-rock harmony, Garcia's command of nearly every guitar style and ability (with lyricist Robert Hunter) to write soaring, catchy choruses with sly, wry humor. "I will get by...I will survive," comforted and aroused fans agonizing over Garcia's near-fatal diabetic coma the year before. It spurred the Dead's greatest popularity and the subsequent crowd, drug, and police problems. Forget the songs from 1989's "Built To Last" but for Garcia's "Foolish Heart" and Mydland's elegy, "Just A Little Light."The group's most revered releases during this period were its live sets, 1980's 2LP "Dead Set" and "Reckoning" and its 1990 3CD "Without A Net," which here provide the compilation's most organic, comfortable moments The acoustic "Dire Wolf" and "Cassidy" brim with folk harmony and superb Garcia pickin', while "Franklin's Tower" plugs in with more musical muscle than its "Blues for Allah" studio counterpart. The set's finale, a live "Eyes Of The World" was a revelation even to longtime Deadheads.. Branford Marsalis' saxophone searches the attic space between Garcia's bopping solos and Lesh's bass to exploit the group's jazz leaning and what David Crosby described as the group's "electrified.Dixieland." Where does this set fit in any CD collection? Longtime fans scoff at most of the group's studio albums, let alone collections; drawers of live cassettes tell their Dead story night by night until the end. Casual fans, meanwhile, might start with the Warners best-ofs or 1970's pillars "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty." This compilation, despite some fine performances and written tributes from Richard Gebr and Mix magazine editor Blair Jackson, is at best a supplemental stop even for the casual Grateful Dead fan, if such a thing exists six years after the group's long, strange trip ended."
Nice compilation covering the Arista years
R. Gorham | 09/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE BAND: Several band members came and went during the Arista years, but these albums ALL have these players in common - Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitars, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass), Mickey Hart (drums), Billy Kreutzmann (drums).
THIS DISCS: (1996) 2 discs containing 26 tracks clocking in at approximately 153 minutes of music (disc-1 at 77:50 minutes, and disc-2 at 74:57). Included with the discs is an 18-page booklet containing song credits/titles, a brief intro to the band, studio album cover pictures and insight into the goings-on at the time of each release covered here, and what songs came from which albums. The albums here range from "Terrapin Station (1977) through "Without A Net" (1990) only. Digitally remastered sound. Label - Arista.
ALBUM REPRESENTATION: Terrapin Station (4 songs), Shakedown Street (4), Go To Heaven (3), Reckoning/Live (2), Dead Set/Live (2), In The Dark (5), Built To Last (5), Without A Net/Live (1).
COMMENTS: Hardcore Deadheads will probably hate this (or any for that matter) compilation. Most long time fans claim you need the whole album experience to get into the Dead... or, see one of their 'live' shows. Indeed, I saw them live in the late 70's and it was an experience I'll never forget. I would agree with these sentiments for the most part... but, over the years I've never been a 'diehard' Grateful Dead fan. I like the band, and I like a lot of their songs... but I always considered myself a casual follower. I have several of their early era albums when they were on Warner Bros' label - "American Beauty", "Workingman's Dead", "Blues For Allah", and "Aoxomoxoa" (from 1969)... all Dead classics! I don't think anything the band did in the late 70's or 80's can match any of these albums. With that being said, this collection of songs is great to have all in one place. The band members were changing as much as the song structure. 1980 found the Dead on the Billboard charts with "Alabama Getaway" (#68). In 1987, the band finally scored a top 10 hit with the song "Touch of Grey" (from "In The Dark"), which garnered a new set of fans from the mainstream rock audience. Less psychedelic rock and fewer improvisational jams - leading to more rock & pop (and structure). This caused a bit of culture shock between some of the old and new fans, when the peaceful hippie counterculture met the '80s rockers. Over the years, I've listened to all of these albums with songs featured here, and decided they weren't strong enough on their own to buy (outside of "Terrapin Station"). I did however crave several of these songs for my collection... "Good Lovin'", "Fire On The Mountain" and the band's psychedelic disco anthem "Shakedown Street" (from "Shakedown Street); "Alabama Getaway" and "Saint Of Circumstance" (from "Go To Heaven"); "Touch Of Grey" and "Hell In A Bucket" (from "In The Dark"); and "Foolish Heart" and "Standing On The Moon" (from "Built To Last"). Some absolutely great tunes here. For the casual Dead fan, I think this is a darn good sampling of the band in their 2nd phase of work (4 stars)."
Jens | Montréal | 08/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is probably the best representation of the Dead there is in any collection. Their live recordings are great for the many deadheads who cannot get enough of that unique experience, but the quality of their studio music is far beyond the typical concert, in sound quality and in terms of actually singing on key. If you really want a live CD, try "The Closing of Winterland"--a truly amazing concert that also collects some of the best music of this period ... or perhaps "Dozin' at the Knick," a fine concert in Albany, New York. The Dead's years with Arista were indeed their most creative and productive in my view, giving us such classics as Terrapin Station, Estimated Prophet, Shakedown Street, and Fire on the Mountain, and so many more. Amazing songs, great playing, and on-key singing that the Dead never managed to surpass. These guys jammed during afternoons in the gymnasium at College of Marin (California) back in the early 60s, and I enjoyed them then, but in all my years of listening to the Dead (and going to several concerts, beginning in 66 at the Fillmore Auditorium in SF), it seems to me that they really got it together during the late 70s, when Kieth and Donna Godchaux played both with the Dead and with the Jerry Garcia Band (check out the remastered edition of "Cats under the Stars"). This is a great (I'd say the best) collection for both new and seasoned fans of the Dead."