Record of the Day: Grateful Dead, "Live/Dead"

Record of the Day: Grateful Dead, “Live/Dead”

Grateful Dead
Live/Dead (Cd Warner Bros. 7599-27181-2)

Epochal album, “Live/Dead” is one of the first attempts by the legendary Californian group to capture on disc the long concerts (over four hours on average) and the complex jam sessions that characterize their live activity.
Followed with devotion by the large population of Deadheads, the Grateful Dead are the most prominent musical representatives of the lysergic generation, daughter of the Summer of Love and the visionary proclamations of Timothy Leary.

A dense sound wave, physically palpable, comes from the intertwining of the different stylistic components of the group; rock, electronic, jazz, folk, psychedelia are grouped together in very extensive musical arcs (the initial “Dark Star” lasts over twenty-three minutes) which allow the hallucinated guitars of Jerry Garcìa and Bob Weir to improvise as dilated as they are rich in inventiveness.
Bassist Phil Lesh, coming from the world of the avant-garde, surrounds Garcìa's soloism with very profound lines which, through their continuous variations, act both as a support and as a stimulus for the rhythm section, where drummer Mickey Hart never misses any opportunity to counter with polychrome figures that reveal his passion for African drumming.

Previous albums such as “Aoxomoxoa” and “Anthem of the Sun” had already demonstrated the originality of their language, but despite being able to count on a large following the band has always kept away from the world of the charts and the record business (just think that the Grateful Dead have always encouraged the public to record their concerts to produce clandestine bootlegs).

The influence of this free musical approach was felt on bands of subsequent generations (Pearl Jam, Nirvana) and allowed the Dead to change many sides of their musical spectrum over the years (there was even a disco turn on the album “Shakedown Street”); Garcìa & Co.'s inexhaustible musical curiosity has produced an overwhelming number of double, triple, quadruple albums, multiple box sets, etc.

In the midst of such abundance one finds routine moments but this is certainly not the case with this live album, which sees them in sparkling form in unforgettable songs such as “The Eleven”, “Feedback” and in a magnificent version of the “Death Don' t Have No Mercy” by bluesman Rev. Gary Davis.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.