The Grateful Dead - Live/Dead (1969)

The Grateful Dead were an American rock band renowned for their lengthy musical improvisations in concert.


Live/Dead was the Grateful Dead's first live album, and with it they finally got to show the record-buying public what the Grateful Dead concert experience was like. This live sound hadn't really been represented at all on their first three studio albums (it had been touched on with Anthem Of The Sun, but the results were dubious).
At this stage the band lineup consisted of Jerry Garcia (lead guitar/vocals), Bob Weir (rhythm guitar/vocals), Phil Lesh (bass), Mickey Hart (drums), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Tom Constanten (keyboards) and Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan (keyboards/harmonica/percussion/vocals). Pigpen's contributions had been lessened somewhat with Constanten's arrival - on Live/Dead Constanten took over on the organ, and for the most part Pigpen was relegated to percussion. However he did get to sing lead on his signature tune, Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light" (he also played the organ on "Death Don't Have No Mercy" as well).
Live/Dead showed what the Grateful Dead were all about - improvisation. Over four sides of vinyl they jammed through a selection of just six songs. Indeed the whole of side one was taken up by the over-twenty-minute "Dark Star" jam. The emphasis was all on the instrumental exploration, and far less on the vocals and songs themselves. Particularly notable was Lesh's roving style of bass playing, renouncing the bass's traditional role as a rhythm instrument. Of the songs themselves, only one ("St Stephen") had appeared on an album beforehand. This is what they had been doing in their concerts for over a year, but this was the first time it had been recorded and released as an album. It really was something new - lots of rock bands liked to jam, but none took it to such extremes.

Aoxomoxoa (1969) <|> Workingman's Dead (1969)
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