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on 11 October 2001
I first heard 'The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)' on an BBC2 series called 'Sounds of the Sixties', which was on TV in the early 90s when the sounds of psychedelia were beginning to find their way back into popular music in the UK with the 'Stone Roses', 'Charlatans', and 'Happy Mondays'. Its a fairly straightforward, incredibly catchy, 60s pop song, with an amazing middle section, which only gave only a fleeting glimpse of the awesome psychedelic power possessed by this band once called the Warlocks and, at that time, Ken Kesey's in house band for the notorious Acid Tests.
Its a good starting point for anyone not familiar with the Grateful Dead's unique blend of Californian cool, ensemble playing, and way with a tune. It also gives a good indication of what the remainder of their debut sounds like, concise psychedelic pop, and in that respect it gave no clue to what the Dead sounded like live (for that see 'Anthem of the Sun', or 'Live Dead'). Tunes like 'Beat it on Down the Line' and 'Sittin' on Top of the World' have the kind of semi-cheesey sounding hammond and driving rhythm section that will be familiar to anyone who enjoys 60s music, and there are some rhythm and blues here as well with (the worryingly titled) 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' and 'Viola Lee Blues', BUT the Dead add their own style throughout with Jerry Garcia's geeetar playing and the fabulous west cost harmonies.
They even manage to constrain themselves to only one tune over 10 minutes, the closing 'New, New Minglewood Blues', it was a sure sign of things to come.
This is the sound of Haight Ashbury....
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on 26 May 2004
Superb debut from the Grateful Dead. Speedy, adrenaline-fueled rhythm and blues covers and sparkling, summer-of-love originals such as "The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)". This classic album has been wonderfully remastered and expanded - some of the original tracks are actually in their complete versions so instead of an inappropriate fade you get to hear the song played right to the end. Excellent choice of tracks for the bonus selections and wonderfully packaged.
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VINE VOICEon 14 March 2006
Thanks to Rhino's excellent Birth Of The Dead 2CD this is no longer the earliest studio evidence of the Grateful Dead's work, but it is still their eponymous debut album, recorded (apart from one track) over four days in January 1967 in Hollywood at RCA's studios. Jerry Garcia had worked there the previous year, helping out on Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album, with engineer Dave Hassinger, of Rolling Stones fame, who was now producing The Grateful Dead.

Having first joined the Dead's golden road of musical experience around 1969 and not hearing their first album, I had been expecting it to have relatively unformed ideas and only the beginnings of their distinctive character. The first listen was enough to prove me quite wrong, with their ten minute tour de force of Viola Lee Blues in particular instantly dazzling, and each subsequent play has only re-enforced the confidence and subtlety of the playing and the depth to their original pieces. Band compositions mingle with blues, jug band standards and Bonnie Dobson's apocalyptic Morning Dew, all performed much as they would have sounded live in the San Francisco dance halls or at the Golden Gate Park Human Be-In they had played the week before recording the album.

The album produced one single, The Golden Road/Cream Puff War. Early fades necessitated by length restrictions on vinyl album sides have been replaced with the original full-length masters, though most of these also fade, with Schoolgirl gaining almost a minute.

To the original album has been added over 40 minutes of bonus material. Four of these tracks were recorded at RCA as try-outs after the album had been completed, and the final two tracks are versions of Viola Lee Blues. One is a three-minute edit, suggesting it may have been considered as a follow-up single at one time, and the other is an (incomplete) 23 minute live version from Rio Nido Dance Hall in September 1967, quite different to the studio performance but just as hypnotic.
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on 14 March 2013
I like the Dead a lot, but I'm not blind to their faults, so this review is essentially a corrective to the over-praise you can find elsewhere. Anyone new to the band and wondering if this album is a good place to start should be very wary of the four- and five-star reviews from more committed Deadheads. For the more casual listener, it's a three-star item at best. If the Dead had vanished after this, they'd be remembered as little more than an obscure cult band who made a patchy album that showed some promise.

The album was made in a hurry (and on speed, for that matter) and it shows. The two original songs ("The Golden Road" and "Cream Puff War", which bookend side one of the original vinyl set), the production and the singing are all so thin that if they stood sideways they'd be invisible. Side one, as was, is especially compromised, as it feels like it's trying to set the band up as a relatively conventional pop-rock act, which they emphatically weren't. Side two is still a bit slipshod, but overall it's much more representative of what the Dead were about in 1967, and better because of it. On two of the three tracks ("Morning Dew" and "Viola Lee Blues") the band stretch out and jam for a bit and it's much more substantial, particularly "Viola Lee", which is the best track on the album by a very wide margin. The non-original material on side one would have benefited from such space: as that material stands, it's all rather pinched and weedy.

The CD extras are a mixed bunch, though "Death Don't Have No Mercy" and the even-longer version of "Viola Lee" show the very early Dead at pretty much their best.

The Dead aren't an easy band to get into, as they followed their own logic and not everyone will have the time or inclination to come to terms with it. But anyone looking for an easy jumping-off point is advised to look elsewhere than this patchy and frequently atypical debut set.
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on 21 September 2011
Yes, I can remember way back when.....this band and bands like it were our lives! Stranglely (?), in vinyl terms this was the only album I'd bought of the GD and had always remembered the music on the album. Finally decided to buy it on CD and it's just as good, though I prefer to remember Jerry Garcia as 'my' designer of ties!
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on 23 September 2007
I admit to being a Grateful Dead fanatic and I have just about everything they and Jerry Garcia ever produced. This is my favourite of their albums although I was slightly torn between this and "The Birth Of The Dead." I know alot of fans would disagree with my choice but I think this album shows their versatility and has something for everyone.
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on 9 October 2014
Seminal or new to the Dead , its a good album simple as that , bonus tracks and good liner notes .
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on 14 July 2016
10/10 the first album by the Dead.
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on 2 March 2015
Good product, quick delivery
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on 11 July 2014
fast postage a+
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