“Half of my life, I spent doin’ time for some other fucker’s crime”
It’s this line that may have convinced me the Dead were tough, this and Mama Tried. The truth is far from that as they were in reality as far as I can tell fairly privileged navel gazing hippies. Which is to say like most of American youth at the time. Yes I am jaded today, I may have tried to watch the debate and am wondering what happened to that sixties generation.
Spoilt rotten, all the same they could make some great records when the weather was good and the acid kicked in and life was mellow. 1971 saw them release the album they wanted to call Skull Fuck but is more popularly known as Skull and Roses. In the great tradition of bands more intent on playing than recording much of the album is live with some overdubs I am sure, the Dead never got the harmonies that close live is my guess.
It is the first time I actually bought the America’s jukebox tag they get, songs by Merle Haggard, Buddy Holly, Kristofferson and Luther Dixon all on one album, along with the joys of Wharf Rat and Playing In The Band. It sometimes gets a bad reputation from some people but if you want a Dead album that hits all the high points of the early 70’s Dead you could do worse, and if you hate it the gatefold album looks cool hanging on the wall in your office, man cave or even the outhouse. My copy has no cover, it is probably hanging on some suits wall as we speak, he probably had no more need for the music but thought the cover was cool.
There was a time I would argue that this album, American Beauty, Workingman’s Dead and Europe 72 were all the Grateful Dead albums you need.
Ok I admit it the Grateful Dead fill me at times with equal measures of joy and confusion/disdain at the same time. They are simultaneoulsy awe inspiring and annoying it’s the dialectic in action man.