The Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead (1970)

The Grateful Dead were an American rock band renowned for their lengthy musical improvisations in concert. 
The Grateful Dead's 60s albums had established them as leaders in the psychedelic rock and jam genres, but their fourth studio album proved to be a radical change of direction. Inspired by the lush vocal harmonies of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the country-rock movement that was then under way, they stripped away the psychedelia and returned to their roots. Workingman's Dead consisted of eight concise songs firmly rooted in folk, country and blues, with little to no jamming, and the focus shifting to the vocals. They also happened to be the best songs the band had put out to date, mostly written by Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter.
This shift to their roots brought a different approach to instrumentation, with more focus on acoustic guitars. By this time keyboard player Tom Constanten had left the group. Jerry Garcia had also been learning to play the pedal steel guitar, and several of the songs showcased his own idiosyncratic style with the instrument. He also contributed banjo. Meanwhile Ron McKernan's contributions were becoming less and less important, the album featuring barely any keyboards, though he did get to sing lead and play harmonica on "Easy Wind" (also the one song on the album written solely by Robert Hunter). The full line-up by now was Jerry Garcia (guitar/pedal steel/banjo/vocals), Bob Weir (guitar/vocals), Phil Lesh (bass/vocals), Ron McKernan (keyboards/harmonica/vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (drums/percussion) and Mickey Hart (drums/percussion). This line-up proved perfectly suited to adapting to this roots-rock style, still being able to put their own spin on it that differentiated them from their country-rock peers (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, etc).
If they had re-invented themselves with this album, it proved to be a good idea, as it was more successful than any of their previous records, reaching #27 on the charts. Most of the songs became incorporated into their live act, and it still endures today as a landmark album of the country-rock movement.

Live/Dead (1969) <|> American Beauty (1970)
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