So part two of the year of the Dead commences with a chance encounter with Ace by Bob Weir. I am not sure if I can really consider this as a solo album as most of the Grateful Dead are on the album and most of the songs turn up on Dead shows and are like Cassidy some of the better songs.
It’s a fun enough album that seems to owe a lot to Little Feat in the sound of things especially on One More Saturday Night. Donna Jean manages to keep things together on Playing in the Band as well which may be the last time she did that. You have to wonder at the description of her role as Chick vocals though. It is missing something as an album though, maybe a little too polite at times and not teetering on the edge of collapse as the Dead often are.
This album was without doubt the nastiest looking vinyl I have ever taken a chance on. It had some strange accretions on the vinyl and looked pock marked and ever so slightly grotesque. You seldom however find any Dead in the thrift store piles and was for that reason alone worth the risk. It cleaned up well and is in actually great shape once the dirt was dealt with. I really should have taken a picture I guess.
My fascination and for most of the time disappointment with the Grateful Dead is because I had built up an image of what they should be like based on the stories and legends about them before I heard the music. In my mind they were the US version of Hawkwind and because of that thought I was always going to be disappointed. After living for years in Dead country I have finally come to terms on some level with the idea that they were America’s jukebox. I alway want them to be more when I hear them though.
I am also influenced by the long hours sitting with Dave as he pulled another cassette he had received in the mail from the USA from an old shoe box. Some of these were awful sounding and others indescribably dull. That’s what you get when you answer an ad in one of the strange famines he collected. It’s also something that has gone with the advent of the internet. The Dead have been around my listening habits for many years without really grabbing me, when I listen I find myself enjoying more than hate though, it’s just that their is a cultural piece I am not getting maybe.
This weeks other excursion into Dead land was Dick’s Picks Vol 8. from May 2nd 1970. It starts out with an amazing acoustic set which is so far the best thing I have heard from the Dead. Of course 1970 was a good year and the classic tracks are all here in slightly different acoustic versions, some a little faster and some a little rougher with those amateur harmonies. All good and a lot of fun. All of them with that close to collapse quality as if things are about to derail.
Then we get to the electric section which for me is not as good, I think because I was enjoying acoustic things so much and never got the benefit of the break as the live audience did. It is however a strong set and St Stephen and the Other One are always good as far as I am concerned.
Of course this is streamed and may suffer from the limitations of the medium. I also tried listening to Crimson White and Indigo from 1989 but I am not sure I am ready for later Dead yet. Garcia’s guitar tone was a little difficult and I may have to work up to that.