After the 1960s ended, the Grateful Dead was merely seen as a cult band who were not as good as other contemporaries in the psychedelia fashion, such as Jimi Hendrix. Everyone, especially their record label, wanted them to do something great rather than the jam band stuff they were pumping out in the late 1960s. Fortunately, this album released in 1970 is their best. It is considered a classic today.
Has it aged well at all? Let’s find out.
We begin with Box Of Rain which has an acoustic groove sensibility about it. It’s clearly unique sounding and tells the trippy tale of rain outside on a regular day. The lyrics are likely drug-influenced, but hey, it’s a nice and soothing tune. Nothing has really been done like this by other bands. It is highly original. The slide guitar is gorgeous here. This is something really relaxing to hear. There is a definite southern rock sensibility to it as well. It never bores although it is well over five minutes long.
Next is Friend Of The Devil which is much more acoustic-based. The awesome lyric, “The friend of the devil is a friend of mine,” is here. It talks of a midnight journey when one really needs to sleep. It’s excellent to listen, and everything here sounds like it is in a good place. These tunes are magical, listen away.
Sugar Magnolia returns to a more rock-based sensibility. It’s so psychedelic, yet song-based, one can forgive the Grateful Dead for making not-so-good tunes for much of their earlier career. This song is beautiful and wonderful to hear. The hippie dream for many may be dead, but the dream lives on in these songs. Wonderful. The harmonies at the end are nice too.
Operator is another subtle melodic glory. It is just atmospheric and wonderful. One could describe the music of the Grateful Dead as country music for people to take psychedelics to. This may be correct, but this really sounds consistent and listenable. It’s very subtle compared to the rock supergroups of the day. The harmonica affirms the country influence, and this is just so good. Listen away.
The next song is Candyman. It has a great beautiful intro and just sounds interesting. This unusual music blows away anything done in the name of today’s pop music as of writing. It’s mellow, accomplished and beautiful. It’s a beautiful and dreamy statement. Punks, beware, you will probably hate this sort of music. There is a great pop/rock structure here, and the Grateful Dead are brilliant. Although this song goes over six minutes, it demands to be listened to. Enjoy. It’s a singalong number too.
After that, we encounter a song named Ripple. It’s a straightforward piece that is so mellow for music of its type. It talks about traditions in America. A gorgeous and simply delivered song with some nimble tremolo picking on it. A lovely, great tune. Never a dull moment on this album. Listen away. Majestic. The end is glorious.
Brokedown Palace begins with a slow-paced piano-driven environment. It’s just so gorgeous to listen to, it makes us realise that avoiding the great music of the past is illogical. Listening to the Grateful Dead is good fun. Talking about image-based concepts confirms the country folk music with psychedelic lyrics on this album. Very unique. The doo-doo harmonies at the end are awesome.
Till The Morning Comes is a much more country-rock guitar feel song-wise. Some of Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing is truly magical to hear. This music is really fantastic to hear and is lovely to listen to. Highly enjoyable and also highly recommended. The tom-tom drumming is pretty good to hear in the background as well. “Make yourself easy” is chanted in this song. Brilliant.
Next up is Attics Of My Life, a chilled sounding piece which is slow, but never boring. It’s very much late 1960’s Beatlesque sort of harmonies here that reaffirm the hippy dream. It’s a lovely song that is so gentle you can relax in your own way to it. Mint, we have ear candy right here. A lovely moment on this record. Some nimble bass playing is here as well, listen carefully for it.
The last track Truckin’ is a joyful Southern country like tune. It finishes off this super awesome record nicely. No doubt as mentioned before, punk rock would hate this track, and it sounds a lot like The Beatles track The Ballad Of John and Yoko. But still, it’s a great song. Worth listening, and we finish our album here.
The Grateful Dead made a classic album here. It is underrated and worth listening to. One of the greatest albums ever made for music of its type. Make sure you give this album a listen. It has not aged at all, a truly great experience.