07-19-2002, 04:43 PM
So what are your favorite ACOUSTIC albums? And who besides YES should do one?
Have a favorite acoustic album? Review it here. Maybe you'll encourage someone to explore something they haven't heard before!
07-19-2002, 08:41 PM
I regret that I have never seen the Dead play an acoustic set in all the shows I attended. 'Reckoning' was recorded at the Warfield Theater SF and Radio City Music Hall NYC in October 1980. The songs they played in their acoustic set always included a few tunes they played more often in their early days when they were called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Band (or something like that!). 'Reckoning' features many of these. Cover tunes like Don Rollins' THE RACE IS ON, bluegrass legend Bill Browning's DARK HOLLOW, Jessie Fuller's MONKEY AND THE ENGINEER and Charlie Monroe's ROSA LEE McFALL show the Dead paying homage to their roots. Sadly missing from the CD version of this album - Elizabeth Cotton's OH BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE. A slew of traditional folk songs grace this disc as well - BEEN ALL AROUND THIS WORLD, JACK-A-ROE, DEEP ELEM BLUES and ON THE ROAD AGAIN.
But an acoustic Dead set wouldn't be complete without a few of their originals. DIRE WOLF on the 'Workingman's Dead' album seems to be a bit overcooked, but here it seems perfect - and in a better key to boot! IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES first showed up on Garcia's 'Reflections' album, then on the live Dead album STEAL YOUR FACE. While the song is more or less the same each time they've issued it, IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES was always beautiful. One more time can't hurt! CHINA DOLL just might be one of the album's best tracks. Originally issued on 'Grateful Dead From The Mars Hotel', this song's haunting melody has made it one of my favorites. On 'Reckoning' keyboard player Brent Mydland decorates the song with a lovely harpsicord part - almost making up for the lack of crunchy lead guitar overdubs that make the studio version so heavenly. CASSIDY made its' first official appearance on Bob Weir's 'Ace' album. On 'Reckoning' the song is extended a bit, and the jamming section takes on a bluegrass version of 'space'. TO LAY ME DOWN was recorded for the 'American Beauty' album, but that version was never issued until the Rhino box set came out in early 2002. Jerry Garcia released his solo version on the 'Garcia' album, and the 'Reckoning' version marks the first live GD version of this heart felt Garcia/Hunter tune - said to be about Garcia's late mother. This is one of 'Reckoning's' crown jewels! Still, my personal favorite track here is BIRD SONG - another song that first appeared on the 'Garcia' album. BIRD SONG was written soon after Janis Joplin died, and it's a wonderful tribute to her. The version here has something truly magical about it. Every note sounds perfectly in place, and the improvisational jam takes me to other worlds. The album ends with the classic RIPPLE - one of their better known songs from the 'American Beauty' album.
Throughout this album Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Brent Mydland, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann are at their best. And if you like this album, electric set material from the same shows is available on the follow up album, 'Dead Set'. These two companion albums marked the beginning of the band's greatest decade. Technically speaking, the 1980's was when the band peaked. Experience had made them tighter than ever, and new keyboardist Brent Mydland was prepared to play anything from the band's history at short notice.
And so, after a lot of thought, RECKONING takes its' place as my favorite acoustic live album.
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