Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic album, 3 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Anthem of the Sun (Audio CD)
This was the first Grateful Dead LP that I bought and it changed me forever. I'd heard it before I bought it - at a friend's house where we wouldn't listen to albums late into the night - and this one really had a huge impact. It was just about seamless - apart from having to flip sides after 20 minutes or so - and carried me along with it on strange internal journeys of the mind. If you've seen the BBC programme "From Anthem to Beauty" (part of the "Classic Albums" series) you'll know something about the album's history. For those who haven't seen the programme, it's a complex mix of live and studio work, with the live stuff recorded at a number of venues. Its production - months and months in the studio with a bunch of hippie weirdoes using tapes played backward, speeded up and slowed down, plus the addition of "dead air" - nearly drove the executives at Warner Bros crazy.

With its use of audio effects such as stereo phasing to switch sounds from side to side, and brilliant guitar solos from Jerry Garcia it is a psychedelic tour de force. But it's more than that. Side 1 is a story - segueing from track to track without a break - each episode of the story a minor masterpiece. The section "That's it for the Other One" became a staple of the Dead's repertoire for the rest of their career. Side 2 of "Anthem" (tracks 5-7 on the CD) is dominated by Pigpen - with his vocals, harmonica and organ playing - and is, simply, brilliant.

Pigpen, a man steeped in the blues, intermingled his background with Garcia's bluegrass and jugband musical influences, Lesh's avante garde classical experience and a compelling rhythm section of Hart & Kreutzmann, and, along with a driving rhythm guitar from Weir and intricate keyboard work from Constanten produced a patchwork quilt of an album - lots of individual sequences, stitched together to produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

I've bought different versions of this album at least half-a-dozen times. It's still one I play frequently more than 40 years after its original release.
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