The Best of Jerry Garcia at 70!: The Grateful Dead’s Top 25!
This list should prove interesting. As someone who never saw the band live and only knew them through their records, I'm sure I'll start some fights among the non-mellow sector of the Grateful Dead's legions. I'm also not shy about including their hits, since I can be as much of a pop guy as I can be a head-music kind of dude. I'm also partial to their early work, which I think any sane fan would be. And I'm ignoring the thousands of picks Dick made, since that's a whole 'nother can of LSD-drenched worms.
No, I'm going against the grain a little here and sticking with the official albums and even staying in the studio more than most fans would ever consider. Since 25 tracks can hardly distill the essence of a group with a catalog this big, I invite you to compile your own list of faves in the space generously provided to you by the friendly folks at Yahoo!
I didn't include any Jerry Garcia solo work, since that would again make the list harder to compile (you want me to work?), but I also didn't limit myself to only GD tracks where Jerry was front and center. After all, they were a communal group and what's yours is mine and vice versa.
Note: The list is chronological by release.
25) Cold Rain and Snow (1967): From the first album and far more garage-rock than their future career, "Cold Rain and Snow" captures the sound of a band being rushed in the studio, not knowing what they're doing quite yet and for that it has an energy that creature comforts would eventually mute. Ah, youth!
24) (Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew (1967): Bonnie Dobson's folk song has been covered by everyone from Tim Rose to Lulu to Jeff Beck, to Nazareth to Einsturzende Neubauten, so it has an indestructible quality that allows everyone to bend it to their will.
23) Viola Lee Blues (1967): Heard and seen in the Richard Lester film, Petulia, "Viola Lee Blues" is featured on "expanded editions" of the first album, with the ten-minute "official" version getting to the point quicker than the 23-minute live version, which is only for people with plenty of leisure time. The three-minute edit is, as its time implies, too short.
22) That's It For The Other One (1968): Divided into four sections with titles like "Cryptical Envelopment" and "Quadlibet for Tenderfeet," this near eight-minute track wanders like a stream in the deep woods. Anthem of the Sun, the group's second album, is the first to feature second drummer Mickey Hart and to sound like what you'd think a band named Grateful Dead might sound like.
21) St. Stephen (1969): While the band would have more commercially successful albums, Aoxomoxoa represents the height of their creative powers, since they were fumbling in the dark, learning the studio equipment as they went along. Like many of their early records, the album would be seriously remixed, making the original mix unavailable for many years. At this point, they were on par with Moby Grape, the original Steve Miller Band and plenty of other fine, fine groups who never achieved their cult-appeal. Life is random, man!