""Anthem of the Sun" is as psychedelic as Bach music is baroque - it just epitomizes the period, and although some feel it sounds dated - hey, who cares ? I'm not so old as to have witnessed the rise and fall of the psychedelic era (I was born in 1966) but I love it more than any other period in rock history, and somehow "Anthem" captures the best bits of it.Anthem shows an uninhibited originality and a sense of total freedom. The song names are sometimes a bit too far out, but unlike the "sound" names like "Alligator" and "The other one" they mercifully didn't survive. I love all of the record. Side one starts off with "Cryptical envelopment" segueing into "The other one" and back to "Cryptical" again. These songs hardly need any explanation, as there are many concert versions. The sections that follow are a bit obscure, but beautiful, while the last song on side one, "Born Cross-eyed", should have been performed more often, I think. Curiously enough, the cd ending differs from the lp ending, and I don't think it's an improvement (and where are the liner notes to explain the changes ?). As side one can be dubbed the "studio side", side two is the "live side". Two great songs, "Alligator" and "Caution", really evoke a concert experience, and although the recording is arguably poor, the atmosphere and quality of the playing more than compensate for this flaw."Anthem" always seems to be standing in the shadows of its younger brothers (like "Live Dead" and "American Beauty"), which is in itself no shame. But unlike any other Dead album its impact resembles that of witnessing a rare and beautiful flower, sweeping one into a lost and magical world.Hans Wigman."
"Bus came by & I got on...that's when it all began...."
Archmaker | California | 09/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For Jerry Garcia it was Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters Bus and the Electric Koolaid Acid Test...but we all got on one kind of bus or another back then.This is the Grateful Dead I loved: acid-drenched, spontaneous, crazed & loopy. The Dead, then, either gave the best concert you had ever heard or the worst. In 3 straight nights at El Monte Legion Stadium, with no-seat stand-up concerts, the first night they were terrible, disjointed, off-tempo...lousy. Then the 2nd night "the magic" happened and the music came rolling out of the huge banks of Marshalls like waves and thunder, building & ebbing and flowing and crescendoing and washing over you like nothing you had ever heard before. Everybody on the same page and seemingly inventing and improvising as one person. The next night...so-so again. It was really hit or miss with them every time out, probably depending on if their highs coincided.Anthem of the Sun catches some of that concert magic. Never mind that they blended studio and differing concert recordings...this album gives the feeling of the Psychedelic Grateful Dead when they were really cooking. On "That's It For the Other One" you get that rolling thunder with Garcia, Weir and Lesh twining around each other while bouncing atop Hart & Kreutzmann's pounding rythmns that after a sidetrip of psychedelic sound effects leads into the more melodic and lilting New Potato Caboonse & Born Cross-Eyed, with the long looping trademark Garcia bouncing lead weaving in and over and around and under Weir & Lesh. Remarkably beautiful stuff.Side Two brings us the humorous and bluesy Alligator with some driving jamming riffs trading off between Garcia & Weir and the traditional concert windup dance and Pigpen rave-off.The Grateful Dead were a different band while Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was alive. Cruder, bluesy, nutty and ferociously alive. When they were "ON" they could blow anybody else playing in those days off the stage (with the possible exception of Hendrix). Anthem of the Sun & Live Dead and a couple of bootlegs are as close as you can get to that experience.I imagine the hit & miss quality became difficult for them too, because the concerts eventually became more conservative & set, with more traditional, structured songs that began with Workingman's Dead. I found their later concerts more structured too and, by and large, without the energy & risk of the earlier days, but I didn't go to a lot of them and I lost touch with the later incarnations of the group, except for the occasional song or two, so who knows?What the heck, we all got more structured and less risky. But, I can tell you in 1968 and for a few years after, the Grateful Dead in concert were Hell on Wheels. Crank the volume up and get on the bus!"
The first Dead album I fell in love with
Michael J Edelman | Huntington Woods, MI USA | 09/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was a 14 year old hippie back in 1968, and this was the first Grateful Dead album I'd ever heard. It was at one of those parties that lasted for days, people coming and going, and one record playing over and over on the stereo... The next day I sat down at my guitar and picked out "That's It For the Other One". The melody is still indelibly stuck in my mind.This is the early dead at its finest- soaring melodies, extended compositions and solos, music you could just close your eyes and get inside. It still takes me back."
Appreciate! you ungrateful dead...
wave-twister | Washington, D.C. | 04/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is entirely ignorant to assume that this album is only relevant to listeners on acid. The music contained in Anthem of the Sun is powerful and difficult and brave. After all, the Dead were a band of musicians at a time when the emphasis of music was on the singer and the songwriter. They were the anti-pop in a period where pop music was still new and exciting. But at the same time, the Dead realized the power of a well crafted song. This album is considered by many to be the hazy ancestor of such tight albums as Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. That is the wrong attitude. Anthem of the Sun is never wasteful, and always beautiful in both is complexity and simple moments. Often, this most freeform period in Dead history is associated solely with LSD, live shows and a "you had to be there" attitude. However, Anthem of the Sun is a carefully crafted disc, a semi-concept album which flows as a complete whole. This is not an attempt to capture a lesser picture of a jam band, nor is it a soundtrack for trips. Make no mistake, the Dead were supremely careful in their pastiche of uniquely American music and psychadelic sounds. The album is intented to convey the experience of spiritual upheaval, and the inherant sorrows and joys - a series of powerful emotions which can be attained in real life as well as in the dream world of drugs. The album therefore becomes a document of the 1960s on many levels. It is a product of acid, no question. But it is also a product of sudden adulthood, of emotional and political unrest, of a few interconnected souls reaching out for more. At the end, however, the strongest impression the album makes is that the band was having fun...having an amazing rollercoaster ride through a turbulent decade. This beauty sweeps over the listener and creates a high all on its own."
Check out the remastered version instead
kireviewer | Sunnyvale, Ca United States | 10/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the Grateful Dead's second album. They have added Mickey Hart on drums, Tom Constanten on keyboards and Robert Hunter writing lyrics. The original LP cover had a blue background, but later versions of the LP had a white background. The CD cover has gone back to the original blue. This is the original CD. There is a new, remastered CD which contains 40 extra minutes of live material (mostly an extended version of Alligater).This is one of the Dead's wierdest and wildest albums. There's a lot of space and psychodelic music. It is a mixture of studio and live recordings. There is only one real song on this album. The rest are long, extended suites. The Dead even goes back to it's jugband origins, playing Kazoos on one track.The album starts out with the suite, That's It For the Other One, which bounces around in style. As this piece evolved in concert, much of the middle part would be dropped and the band would concentrate on the driving, simple "The Other One" part of the piece. Alligater is a 15 minute live track. The middle of it sounds an awful lot like the Allman Brothers' Mountain Jam. The Allman Brothers took Donavan's song (First There is a) Mountain and stretched it out to 35 to 45 minutes. Since the Allman Brothers weren't formed until a year after Anthem of the Sun came out, it makes me think that they were influenced by the Dead. Jerry Garcia's guitar playing was always evolving as he kept experimenting. Here, he sometimes sounds like the Allman Brothers, and sometimes sounds like the typical San Francisco psychodelic guitar player, similar to the Jefferson Airplane or Big Brother. Later, he would drop both those styles as he moved on to new things. Overall, this is an interesting but wierd album. If you like the space music, this is the one to get. If you prefer songs, then get Aoxomoxoa or American Bueaty."