Jerry Garcia - All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions

Jerry Garcia
All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions

(Rhino)

Part One: Garcia

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2004, Volume 11, #8

Written by John Metzger

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Jerry Garciaís studio outings are as underrated, intriguing, uneven, and perplexing as those of his other outfit ó the Grateful Dead. Indeed, the entirety of the famed guitaristís solo career was built around an experimentation with sounds, styles, and arrangements that often didnít fit within his primary ensembleís admittedly variegated repertoire, although the five albums (Garcia, Compliments, Reflections, Cats under the Stars, and Run for the Roses) that compose the recently released box set All Good Things are certainly close cousins. Naturally, some of the songs did appear within the Grateful Deadís concerts, but there are even more that didnít. This effectively allowed Garcia to take a vacation from one portion of his life in order to pursue another, although there was also an undeniable give and take between the two worlds. All of these albums have been remastered and padded with a plethora of bonus material that expands each set to twice its original length, while a sixth disc, appropriately titled Outtakes, Jams, & Alternates, features even more previously unissued tracks. Overall, itís a superb collection, one that illuminates the ups and downs of Garciaís life outside the Grateful Dead. Here, is a closer examination of its individual components.

Jerry Garcia - Garcia

Jerry Garcia
Garcia

(Rhino)

Between 1970 and 1972, the Grateful Dead was an extraordinarily prolific outfit. Not only did it craft a pair of masterpieces (Workingmanís Dead and American Beauty) and pull together two magnificent concert sets (Grateful Dead and Europe í72), but its members also collaborated to various degrees on numerous other projects, including the debut from New Riders of the Purple Sage and solo outings from Bob Weir (Ace), Mickey Hart (Rolling Thunder), and Jerry Garcia (Garcia). All of these albums offered a different twist on the heady brew of country, folk, and rock that the Grateful Dead was exploring at the time, and not surprisingly, many of the songs ó no matter on whose collection they first appeared ó were already a part of (or soon would find their way into) the groupís rapidly expanding repertoire.

Perhaps what is most interesting about Garciaís self-titled solo debut, however, is how seamlessly he mixed his more adventurous, avant-garde fare with material that fit so well within the Grateful Deadís canon. Easing fans into the maelstrom, the first side of the effort featured a quartet of tunes ó the rollicking Deal, the sweetly sonorous elegy Bird Song, the lilting swing of Sugaree, and the melancholy-drenched Loser ó that were already familiar to fans. While there indisputably is a clean, studio polish to the tracks, they also vigorously sprang to life ó a notion that is even more true in their newly refurbished state. Indeed, whether itís Garciaís sweeping pedal steel, his biting electric slide, his bubbly bass, his tenderly picked acoustic, or his swirling organ accents ó he played all of the instruments himself, save for the symphonic drum accompaniments provided by Bill Kreutzmann ó each song was carefully fashioned into a brilliantly sparkling folk-pop gem.

As for the latter half of Garcia, it featured two additional collaborative compositions with Robert Hunter ó the gently intimate To Lay Me Down and the orbital gracefulness of The Wheel ó fused within a strange kaleidoscope of chaotic mayhem. Not unlike The Beatlesí sound collage Revolution 9 or George Martinís strangely psychedelic classical contributions to its Yellow Submarine soundtrack, Garciaís own ornate musings surged with ideas that darted manically, building a tension that eluded to the Grateful Deadís space segments 20 years hence.

Unfortunately, the bonus material featured on the expanded rendering of Garcia is largely disappointing, and as such, its appeal is geared toward the most diehard of the Grateful Deadís fans. The alternate versions of Sugaree, Loser, and The Wheel are superficially different in their stripped-down arrangements, while the studio jam titled Dealiní from the Bottom is utterly forgettable. Not that it matters ó the original album was delightful just the way it was. starstarstarstar

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This is the first installment of a six-part series, which will
examine
All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions album
by album. The entire set is rated:
starstarstarstar

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All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions

Part Two: Compliments

Part Three: Reflections

Part Four: Cats under the Stars

Part Five: Run for the Roses

Part Six: Outtakes, Jams, Alternates

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Garcia [Remastered & Expanded] is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions [Remastered & Expanded] is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2004 The Music Box