- Jul 19, 2012
- Reaction score
You're welcome.Wow! I've been wrong about this for a long time. I thought he had a transplant several years before his death. Thanks for correcting me.
Brent was probably the best keyboardist they had (but the band as a whole was probably best with Keith, until his last year or 2). Vince was a great player - with the Tubes & Rundgren; he just wasn't a Dead player, IMO.Why the Grateful Dead? Because it feels so right. I really dig the early, pre Keith and Donna stuff the best. I also like the Brent Mydland stuff as well as Vince welnick. My favorite studio album is probably Workingman's Dead. Their live shows were either really great or pretty awful, but the great nights were magic.
I can't stand Donnas voice. Cats screwing sounds better her. The Pigpen years were my favorite. I would raise the awful nights to about 25%, great nights about 25%, and the rest going through the motions which could be flat to near great. Too many nights of bad singing, bad timing, and jams that went nowhere to be considered better than everyone else though. A bad Allmans show would be considerably better than all but the best of Dead shows.Brent was probably the best keyboardist they had (but the band as a whole was probably best with Keith, until his last year or 2). Vince was a great player - with the Tubes & Rundgren; he just wasn't a Dead player, IMO.
I will take issue with your characterization of their shows as either great or awful; it wasn't that binary. I would say that 5-10% of them were pure magic. Since, as Weir once said, "If you go diving for pearls, sometimes your gonna come up with a clam", another 5-10% were pure shite. The rest, however, were just good GD - in other words, a lot better than anyone else.
Not even close to the best band. But a great band in many ways. Ill give'em that, and i understand dead heads.Buffet shows: stock brokers who think wearing Hawai'ian shirts and getting can't-stand-up-fall-over-sitting-down-piss-in-the-corner drunk makes you a rebel. I enjoy his music now & then, but you couldn't pay me to go to a show.
I am a Deadhead; saw them often '79-'91 and really wish I'd seen then sooner!. I can see no real argument that they weren't the greatest rock-n-roll band in the history of the universe. They took a an amazing wealth of influences - folk, '50s rock, blues, bluegrass, jugband, jazz, classical, country, sea chanties, and much, much more - and forged them into a unique style of music.
Perhaps the most the important point: If it's not live, it's not Dead. I love most of their albums, but what they did was improvise. Drummer Mickey Hart: "We use a rock lexicon with a jazz syntax". They learned to play together, together, and continued to grow and explore for the next 25 years (I admit the last 5 years did kind of stagnate; that - and the change in the scene - are why '91 was my last show).
And they were/are great players.
Pigpen was a limited (but soulful) keyboard player, and an OK blues guitarist & harmonacist - but perhaps the best ever at a freefall blues rave-up vocal. Every other member of the band was among the best at their instrument - in particular the most unconventional of them, Phil Lesh & Bob Weir.
Lesh started as a classical violinist as a child, switched to jazz trumpet in his teens, and studied modern composition in college. He picked up a bass after he became the Dead's (well, technically the Warlocks'; they changed the name soon after) bassist, and learned to play bass by playing bass, with a highly experimental band, using his profound abilities from other instruments and forms to become a truly unique player.
Weir, when told early on he was lagging and needed to up his game, didn't listen to other rhythm guitarists; he instead immersed himself in McCoy Tyner & string quartets. No one else plays like Bobby (Garcia on Weir: "His playing provides the only context in which my playing really makes sense."). Pretty much no rock guitarist, and very few jazz ones, have his command of inversions. In fact, I would argue that he & Jer were not a rhythm/lead duo, but more a chordal/linear lead duo.
You don't like the Dead? Good! I wish there were more like you. "Touch Of Gray" was their ruination; as has been noted, the community of band & audience was a large part of it, and after "TOG" you saw the invasion of the "Touchheads", and the marvelous Dead show gatherings of like-minded souls that was the scene started turning into rock-concert crowds.
Were there drugs? You bet! (Gee, that really set them apart from most rock bands, eh?) But, until the later years, not the "hard drugs" others have mentioned; pot & psychedelics were the rule. And while yes, I did usually and joyfully join in, sorry, but they sound just as good when I'm straight.
But anyway, to answer the original question: Why the Grateful Dead? Because of the most joyous, complex, exciting, never-before-or-again-played-that-way, transcendental music I've ever heard. Yes, it may be trite, but it's true - you get them or you don't. It is one of the great joys of my life that I do.
. Anyone know how this got started?