Wake the Dead
Wake the Dead
First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2001, Volume 8, #2
Written by John Metzger
The Grateful Dead were tremendously influenced by bluegrass music. In addition, there is a strong connection between bluegrass and Celtic styles. So why did it take so long for anyone to put a Celtic spin on the Dead's songs? Look no further, as that's exactly what mandolin player Danny Carnahan has accomplished on Wake the Dead.
Throughout the disc, Carnahan and his merry band revel in the music as they meld Irish jigs and reels with classic Dead compositions. There are a few missteps along the way, however, and these occur whenever the ensemble attempts to overstep the boundaries of a song (The Wheel, China Cat Sunflower, Bertha, and Touch of Grey), forcing the issue a little too much. Unfortunately, this constitutes about half the album.
Nevertheless, there are some very sweet and pure interpretations to be found on Wake the Dead that make it all worthwhile. None is better than Carnahan's rendition of Friend of the Devil, which opens the album. The song gracefully blossoms out of traditional Irish fare and proceeds to dance in a remarkably seamless fashion between the two styles. Though Bird Song and Black Muddy River are also tackled quite admirably, none of the other tracks on Wake the Dead quite live up to the initial song. Too bad — Carnahan definitely had a unique perspective that just falls short of fruition.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box