in many ways the quintessential garcia album, reflecting the man more than his musical influences and interests. the hallmark melancholy and longing for something almost attained but never quite captured, as well as the fluid creativity and musicality.
might as well records the historic trans-canada trainride with all the usual 60s/70s suspects (cf. the last waltz, but unfilmed and unrecorded). unfortunately the refrain is repeated just too many times (might as well) and ends up like a version of the chinese water torture. Mission in the rain with its unusual overture/intro paints a melancholy picture of our hero wandering the night time streets (wasted? waiting for the man?) with the sense of ennui and seenitallbefore - "no matter what comes down the mission always looks the same". they love each other is the romantic garcia in full flower, treading the thin line on sentimentality, but lovely nonetheless. continuing the romantic theme, it must have been the roses is a hunter-garcia song that crops up time and again, plaintive longing and a justification for, as always, just saying yes. i'll take a melody is for me a little bit special even by jg standards - a master musician's paean to music, and if that fade-out doesn't carry you away, you have no business in gratefuldeadland, sorry.
tore up over you is jerry doing a sprightly hank williams, one master of lonesome melancholy playing tribute to another. catfish john again walks the line on sentimentality, but gets away with it because of dare i say genius. a tale of youthful association with a socially ostracized blackman, a "river hobo", against all parental prohibitions - huckleberry finn rides again.
comes a time doesn't quite work musically for me, but sets out the garcia credo to perfection - "the blind man takes your hand and says, don't you see, ... there's a cup that only Love can fill...