"The Dead emerged from their mid 70's break from touring with this powerhouse of jazzy, spacey soon-to-be classic tunes. Many remained in their repertoire throughout the remainder of their touring career. Help On The Way/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower was the trio that first grabbed my ear, and embodied a wholly new sound for the Dead. The Music Never Stopped became mainstay, and Crazy Fingers was an occasional treat that always made the trip worthwhile. King Solomon's Marbles displayed another spurt of growth in the bands new sound, and the beautiful Sage and Spirit carries you like a breeze through the rushes. Blues for Allah is leap for even some hardcore heads, but well worth an occasional listen when playing the rest of the collection. Irecommend this title hands down over just about any other Dead studio album out there."
IT"S A RAINBOW FULL OF SOUND................................
t'amant | WA | 02/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't think of any recording that seemed to give more to me than this one. Many albums are cherished by me from many a great band, but this one is what I most remember from the days of my youth in the 70's. I played guitar to this endlessly, I cycled it over and over some days (the music literally never stopped). It carried me off to the sand castles on many an evening. This GD studio album is about as good as any of their best material in my opinion (I love many other albums of theirs, of course, but this one captured my imagination the most for the journey it takes you on). I was going to their concerts in the late 70's and this is the HIGHlight material if it made it onto the show any particular evening. What more intricate material does the Dead have to work with than this? Older Dead was great, but for this period of their journey, this is a crown jewel. They really get the collaborative energy going like it may be their last adventure. Again, what more beautiful instrumental is there than Sage & Spirit in their whole repertoire? Is there a sweeter and more expressive guitar lead than the Crazy Fingers tearjerker on any studio album? The build-up of Help/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower into the Roll Away Mantra is like coming out of a dream! And that jazzy but powerful feedback lead that puntuates the trip is heavenly. They are on a tear on King Soloman's Marbles, Mahavishnu might fall behind! All of side one (or even the first six songs) was a perfect transition. Marbles scattered on a vortex coming together at the end to complete the experience. Feels like an concept album that flows over you like a wave (it might have been the wind). This album is inspired to say the least. Everybodies dancin'! I will vouch for the weirdness of BFA/Sand Castles, and I like it. It always feels like that end of a trip feeling when you start noticing all of the sounds around you - tension and release brain flexing. You've gone through the vortex to the new space on the other side (with crickets)! What a trippy little treat The Dead had up their sleeve here. Like an epiphany and gift for the fans during this wave of the dead story...Let's get to the studio cause we've got somethin' to say! "
A cohesive effort with clean and pure guitar licks. The
Robert Andrews | Atlanta, GA USA | 10/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"album has a flow of continuity. This, Mars Hotel and Wake of the Flood are the Dead's three strongest improvisational studio albums. Crazy Fingers is absolutely beautiful. Help On the Way> Slpiknot! are the Dead at their jazziest and I dare you to try to not smile during Franklin's Tower. The Music Never Stopped is a great rocker with great intro bass and guitar licks. Sage & Spirit is a lesser known Bobby instrumental that mimics children's laughter. King's Solomon's Marbles is an innovative number adding more credibility to the Dead's jazzy side. And Blues For Allah closes out the album with studio weirdness and sound effects. Give it a try, you won't regret it."
J. MacAyeal | libertyville, illinois United States | 10/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the result of the Grateful Dead playing shows for 10 solid years and perfecting their songcraft with the help of other musicians, themselves, and the otherly world of creative process. This is a Master's Thesis of music, the greatest album the Dead ever recorded. It has the power of a tremendous live show juxtaposed with the fragility of flower petals. The intimacy that weaves through the songs is the big surprise and you may find that the relaxed mellow with surge into a huge amount of energy while listening. You'll dance in the dark. This is the Dead's smoothest, most exciting and powerful studio recording ever.
Get it for the songs. Keep it for how it will grow with you for a long, long time.
This is the CD for the deadhead who has peace with their old, useless, and passive listening style and seeks true artistic beauty to dance in their brain.
Unusual Occurrences in the Desert indeed...."
Aging hippie offers thumbs-up
Maelje | Kansas City, MO | 02/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'll betray my age right from the beginning by saying the strength of this CD lies in its first "side" -- referring to the old LP format, of course. From "Help on the Way" to "The Music Never Stopped," the Dead blast away with an energy they rarely found in the studio; the best of these songs are no less than NIMBLE, and that's saying something for this band. The "Help on the Way"/"Slipknot"/"Franklin's Tower" axis alone would be enough to recommend this disc -- and that medley of tunes became an absolute monster in concert. But "King Solomon's Marbles" weighs in to show off a band that was feeling its rhythmic oats, thanks in part to the return of Mickey Hart to the fold after an absence of about three years. And the Weir/Barlow "Music Never Stopped" really works as a summation of everything the Grateful Dead stood for: Individual identity flourishing within committed community.
And then we come to ... Side Two. Arrgghhh. "Crazy Fingers" has not worn well musically for me, though Robert Hunter's haiku lyric construction still intrigues. "Sage & Spirit" is, in my opinion, a somewhat tepid instrumental, though with some beautiful melodies. But I think the "Blues for Allah" suite almost redeems the second side; it's challenging music, to be sure, with all the Middle Eastern sounds and atmospheres. Yet the closing "under eternity blue" motif is one of the most uplifting, purely spiritual pieces this band ever did.
To sum it up: I'll take this album over anything else the band did in the studio in the 1970s. If you're not that into the Dead but want one great disc from each of the band's three decades when they were making studio recordings, buy this for the 1970s, "Workingman's Dead" for the 1960s and "In the Dark" for the 1980s."