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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Transition From Psychadelia To Country-Rock
First off, Workingman's Dead is a brilliant album. Disregarding all the other factors that make it such a masterpiece, that it was the beginning of a whole new direction for the Dead, or even that it affirmed the Dead's place in rock-music history, by proving to the world what the Dead were capable of. Even ignoring all those factors which make it such a significant piece...
Published on 3 May 2001

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dead right
As one with only a very remote interest in the Grateful Dead I listen this as country rock which is what it is.However the Dead had a very interesting pedigree going back to a jug band and anyone who hates country music are up against those who were into it like this band and which is their problem
Published 15 months ago by Richard


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Transition From Psychadelia To Country-Rock, 3 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
First off, Workingman's Dead is a brilliant album. Disregarding all the other factors that make it such a masterpiece, that it was the beginning of a whole new direction for the Dead, or even that it affirmed the Dead's place in rock-music history, by proving to the world what the Dead were capable of. Even ignoring all those factors which make it such a significant piece of work, purely on the music alone is one of the finest records ever made. But despite it's beautiful, laid-back, country-rock atmosphere, and Robert Hunter's lyrical wizardry, Workingman's Dead is not only a good album, but an extremely important one, in the development of the Grateful Dead, and the development of music as a whole. What makes the album all the more amazing, is what an incredible change of direction in style it represented for the Dead. Only a few months earlier, the Dead had released Live Dead, a double vinyl album, of transcendental, jaw-dropping psychedelia, which had once and for all set the Dead apart from the other, similarly styled, bands who emerged from the San Francisco scene, in 1966/67. In contrast, Workingman's is a rustic culmination of blues, country and bluegrass, combined with the Dead's own indefinable sound. It also brought the Dead a whole new audience, once which had largely ignored the band since their inception in the mid-60's, and who had little time for 35 minute long, spacey, psychedelic odysseys. This is not to say the Dead sold out to their psychedelic "roots" with the release of Workingman's Dead. Concert tapes from the time show that they were blending their new CSNY-sound, with long (almost) lyric-less, acid-rock trips. Workingman's allowed Robert Hunter's ability as a lyricist to shine. With lyrically intense songs like High Time, Black Peter, and New Speedway Boogie, the Dead were able to convey real feeling in their songs, through the words, rather than relying mainly on the music. The album segues from carefree optimism to tragedy and despair to hard travlin' blues, from one track to the next. Going from the gentle comforting of Uncle John's Band to the anguish-filled High Time to the cheery hopefulness of Dire Wolf to a tale of disaster tinged with the possibility of better times ahead, New Speedway Boogie to the fast-paced country-twang of Cumberland Blues to the bleak, death-ballad of Black Peter to Pigpen's railroad-blues Easy Wind finishing finally with Casey Jones. While there are perhaps better individual songs on other albums, and better live versions of the songs on Workingman's Dead than the one's present on the album, taken as a whole, it is still the finest studio album in the Dead's canon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These Boys Make a Joyful Noise !, 23 July 2007
By 
KMorris (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
While not wishing to enter into any kind of discussion with reviewers who have expressed disappointment with this record, one can see how this can come about and it points out the need for a little research when beginning to listen to such a long-lived, prolific and diverse band.

In my opinion this is an excellent record giving sustained listening pleasure and, along with "American Beauty" of lasting interest and importance. Freaky space rock it certainly ain't, but who else could have produced a song like "Uncle John's Band" as well as the epic "Dark Star". The answer is, of course, no one else and maybe that's why The Dead are so well loved and followed even after all this time.

Getting into The Grateful Dead is a big, big adventure and what we have here is one of the many good places to start. May I also highly recommend, as a good companion to this CD the "Anthem to Beauty" DVD from the Classic Album series which gives much helpful and entertaining background material and insight into the creative processes of the band at that time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A studio high, 4 Mar. 2005
By 
Lozarithm (Wilts, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
Any ill-informed Dead Head who bought this upon its release in June 1970, expecting more of the acid-drenched blues and psychedelia of such recent predecessors as Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa, must have had a considerable shock when they dropped the needle into the groove, and track one, Uncle John's Band, began to play.
The hallmark guitar was augmented by mellifluous pedal steel and banjo, and in the place of all the weirdness and experimentation came beautifully-recorded, clean sounding, almost traditional, timeless songs, song after song with three-part harmonies and tunes you almost felt you knew already. The Dead had gone back to their roots, the music they grew up with, and their lyricist, Robert Hunter, had risen to the challenge with songs about miners and engineers that belonged within a rich musical tradition, largely forgotten, that was being re-invented by artists like the Band and Ry Cooder. When they entered the studios behind the Fillmore for two weeks in February 1970 they had been coached in harmony by Crosby, Stills and Nash, knew all the songs they were to record and even the order they were to appear on the album, and were completely focused on their mission. This, and its equally inspired sequel American Beauty, expel the myth that the Grateful Dead were a live band whose studio work was of secondary importance, and can stand up proudly against any other record.
This 79-minute edition, re-mastered in HDCD, doubles the length of the original album with live material and one alternative take. The live recordings, mostly from 1970, are all songs from the album plus one song that had been intended to close side two but was eventually not used (Mason's Children), and show how the Dead were both able to integrate the new material into their set and to play it so convincingly well. The earliest recording here is Dire Wolf, from Santa Rosa CA in June 1969, showing they were previewing their new direction alongside their existing set a full eight months before they entered the studios
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first of two great acoustic Dead albums from 1970, 9 Jan. 2015
By 
Kirk McElhearn (Near Stratford-upon-Avon) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
After releasing Live/Dead, the Grateful Dead took a 90-degree turn, eschewing their heavy electric sound, and embracing the acoustic country/roots music that would be a large part of their repertoire in the future. Recording in a studio where Crosby, Stills and Nash were working, they learned how to do the complex harmonies that figure on this album, and recorded some of their best songs: Uncle John's Band, High Times, Cumberland Blues, and the classic Casey Jones.

Together with American Beauty, which followed this album later in 1970, the Dead created a diptych of great music. Many of these songs would be in the Dead's repertoire until the end. Listening to this laid-back sound brings me back to the 70s, when this music was part of the soundtrack of my life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars when life seems like easy street there's trouble at your door, 5 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
Before the release of this album , the Dead had a reputation as the live band of the era who excelled in lengthy psychedelic type jams . Here they went into the studio and showed that they could produce a tight country rock album as well as any of their peers . There are many delights but newcomers can look forward to wallowing in the acapella group chorus towards the end of Uncle John's Band - sheer bliss which will get you every time .
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first Grateful Dead album I heard, 18 Feb. 2010
By 
Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen (real name) (Thread rehab facility 37) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
Ok, so this was the first Grateful Dead album I heard. I bought it way back in the days of vinyl supremacy, well CDs had not been invented and the 8 track cartridge had just been declared extinct.

I was listening to the Damned, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Devo, Motorhead and so on, a varied diet of rock/punk etc....music with a dominant beat. I had read about the Dead and was expecting something entirely different to this. As one other reviewer has stated, Jerry looked like a real rocker, and here is this almost shaky thin voice that sounds at odds to his appearance.

I could only stand to listen to Uncle Johns Band, Cumberland Blues and Casey Jones as I was looking for an adrenaline rush, not contemplation and music that requires patience and an attentive ear for the lyrics. The rest sounded like country and western, an abomination to my rock orientated ears.

Many years have passed since that first encounter and I have slowed down a bit, lost a bit of hair, got kids and am a less hasty sort of chap. I asked for recommendations for the best version of Dark Star and was steered towards a couple of live albums that got me thinking back to this one. I got the remastered version to replace the vinyl one that got sold on years ago.

The sound quality is superb and I have a greater appreciation of the bigger picture presented, the twang of the pedal steel guitar, the harmonies, the double drumming and the emotive style of Jerrys singing. I miss the size of the artwork on the vinyl sleeve. This card cover comes close, but bigger was better. I love the overall sepia tone of the artwork and the mood of the cover shot, even if Bill Kreutzman had had enough and just cleared off to sit in the shade and get away from the hassle of posing on the street corner.

The only song that eludes my understanding is Dire Wolf, with its chorus of "don't murder me", whats that about???

It is a superb album and is a pleasure to listen to. The bonus tracks are great, unlike some on other albums these add to the overall picture.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars return to the roots, 5 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
The Dead had been know as the house band for Kesey's acid tests. Now here they are playing Red-Kneck music?? Well, not quite - the Grateful Dead were purveyors of American music, be it folk, blues or whatever. They did, however, always retain the essential element for any group of musicians - they always sounded like the Grateful Dead. Having heard Working Man's Dead, I went along to see them in London (at the Lyceum) hardly expecting to hear songs from this album played live - Uncle John's Band and Casey Jones were not songs I expected to hear them play live but there they were, and with near perfect (for the Dead) harmonies.
This is one of the essential GD recordings, along with... well, that's always a difficult one with so many being essential.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Dead, 12 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
This has always been one my favourite Dead albums. Radically different from their previous three studios albums and a progenitor of Pan-American music. Some great bonus tracks like "Mason's Children".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Extra tracks not needed, 12 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
Always loved this album and quality remix but did not feel the extra tracks were needed. Sound not great on them. As with most extras you can see why they were left in the can.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic seminal work!, 9 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Workingman's Dead (Audio CD)
Seminal work by the master band! I didn't like this much back in the day but it grows on you. I can't decide whether it's better than 'American Beauty' Probably.
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