Birth of the Dead review
The Grateful Dead's cd Birth of the Dead was released in the 12 cd Warner Brother reissue
The Golden Road. It consists of two discs, one studio and
one live. These studio tracks were recorded before they used the
name The Grateful Dead. Then, they called themselves The Warlocks,
Emergency Crew, etc. The CD consists of the tracks from their Autumn,
Scorpio, and Hendricks sessions; all previously unreleased.
The studio sessions are a great historical introduction to the band.
My favorite song on the Studio Side is the blues based "Tastebud";
there are two versions of it, one with vocals and one
without. The song features PigPen playing some nice
piano, and is quite a contrast to the organ tones he showers on the
song "Stealin'." The Autumn sessions include an early
brief version of "Caution."
The second disc of Birth of the Dead
features live performances from various dates recorded mostly in
July 1966 from various venues. The selected tracks provide a snapshot of the Grateful Dead at this
early stage of their
Birth of the Dead The
Live Side features a pretty good version of "Viola Lee
Blues," a song that was an early jamming vehicle for the
band. An early version of Bob Dylan's "Baby Blue" is
included. I much prefer the slowed down renditions that would be adopted in later
years. The 1966 style has nowhere near the emotion or dynamics
that make Jerry's interpretation of Dylan's songs special.
Certainly 1965 and 1966 are not my favorite years of Grateful Dead
music. And I would not have become a fan if they didn't
transition their sound as they did. Still, this two disc release is superbly
done capturing the early studio sessions and providing a
superb overview of the band live in 1966. Except for the most
die hard fans, Birth of the Dead is a comprehensive
representation of the period. I do not plan to sell my copy at the
local used music shop. At the same time, I do not expect to play it
frequently. Birth of the Dead is nice to own for historical
purposes, but is not an essential CD.
Grade - B
Birth of the Dead is available in the box set The