The Very Best of Jerry Garcia
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
Deadheads likely will quibble over the notion that the recently issued, two-disc, 26-track compilation The Very Best of Jerry Garcia follows the industry standard of obligatorily incorporating a few rarities into its components; in this case, it’s a supernal journey through The Beatles’ Dear Prudence that was previously unreleased and a spry, ebullient romp through Deal that was plucked from a mail-order promotional outing. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine a better overview of Jerry Garcia’s career as a solo artist. Evenly split between his crisply produced studio recordings and his playfully exploratory excursions in concert, the collection touches upon all of the requisite bases while making the case that casual onlookers ought to delve a little deeper into the former Grateful Dead guitarist’s catalogue. Naturally, his most familiar tunes — Bird Song, Loser, Sugaree, and Ripple, to name a few — are well-represented. Yet, the selections that fill in the gaps — the swinging, New Orleans-baked, Django Reinhardt-infused rendition of Irving Berlin’s Russian Lullaby; the bluegrass-oriented bent of Catfish John; the smoky, horn-splattered blues of Without Love; the jubilant, sun-baked reggae of Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come; the radiant gospel of Gomorrah; and the haunted darkness of Bob Dylan’s Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) — are equally inspired. When combined with the myriad of R&B-laden and jazz-inflected jams that filter through the live cuts, The Very Best of Jerry Garcia does its job of effectively showcasing Garcia’s amazingly diverse interests and abilities.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box