WHAT A LONG
Album Review of:
‘THE GRATEFUL DEAD’
by THE GRATEFUL DEAD
(Edsel ED 221, 1987, reissue of
Warner Bros WS1689, March 1967)
Lights, acid, roll the tapes – ACTION! Trippy Stanley Mouse art-sleeve – a clean-shaven Garcia wearing big grin and Uncle Sam top-hat collaged onto the solar photosphere. No sleeve-notes, not even full band-names, with the back cover split down the axis in reversed-out mirror-photo and lettering. And there are nine cuts, done over one long four-day weekend They do Sonny Boy Williamson’s lasciviously paedophile “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and Tim Rose’s “Morning Dew”. But where the Yardbirds compress the deviant Blues energy of the former, and Rose (or even the proto-Deep Purple Episode Six cover) explodes the latter in growling electric tension in just around three minutes apiece, the Dead lose the song’s internal dynamic by attempting to apply their loose spacey stage-jam fluidity to them. As they’d first done with “Morning Dew” at the January 1967 ‘Human Be-In’. And – by comparison, it don’t work. Even these were razored down to fit the album’s 34:53-minute playing time. Full extended edits of “Morning Dew” “Good Morning Little School Girl”, “Sitting On Top Of The World”, “New, New Minglewood Blues” and Jerry Garcia’s “Cream Puff War” were finally issued as part of Rhino Records ‘The Golden Road’ box-set in 2001.
Now, for the uninitiated, there’s little here for 1980s Paisley revivalists to readily latch onto – no clean customised liftable motif like the Byrds Rickenbacker jangle, Syd Barrett’s acid-fried lyrics, or Thirteenth Floor Elevators garage-thrash. No Airplane hard-acid laser-focus, or Crosby Stills & Nash close-harmony. Fact is, with the Dead, it’s ALWAYS been necessary to suspend disbelief and take them on their own terms. And that, now – without all their attendant 1967 hippie paraphernalia, ain’t easy.
So file this one in your library under ‘SEMINAL’, and wear that T-shirt with pride, for strictly ritual occasions only.