Cats Under the Stars review
Cats Down Under the Stars
is the fourth studio Jerry Garcia solo album, but in many ways his
first. The first Garcia solo album was more of a Grateful Dead
release, though a few of the songs from it such as “Deal” and
“Sugaree” were also played with his electric band, and his
second CD Compliments had no original Garcia compositions. The third CD
Reflections is half Grateful Dead and half Jerry Garcia Band
material, and of the Garcia band material only one song was an
original. Also, Cats Down Under the Stars is the first CD to be
under the name Jerry Garcia Band; the first three were just under
the name Jerry Garcia.
This CD has offers some of
the better Jerry Garcia Band original compositions. It includes four
songs that went on to be regular concert rotations, "Rueben and
Cherise," "Cats Down Under The Stars,"
"Gomorrah," and "Rhapsody in Red." The
disc starts out with “Rubin and Cherise” which
has a catchy melody. Garcia throws out chilling “Shakedown
Street” style tones during the instrumental.
Cats Down Under
the Stars features some material that fit this line-up which
featured Grateful Dead keyboardist Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna
on vocals. Several of songs highlight female singers playing a lead role rather than
just singing back up including Donna Godchaux’s “Rain” that
she excels on.
Cat’s Down Under the
Stars is a solid release with some of the best Jerry Garcia Band
original songs. by Barry
Cats Down Under the
Stars bonus material
The bonus material on Cats
Down Under the Stars is comprised of some studio sessions from
November 1976, and a few outtakes and alternate tracks from the Cats
Down Under the Stars album sessions, both with basically the same
primary difference between the sound of the album and the bonus
material is that album is much more polished, using electronic keyboards and Garcia uses a whole host
of tonal effects, where as the bonus material sticks more to piano and
a clean guitar attack.
Be With Thee" is a beautiful gospel song that highlights Donna
on vocals with Keith playing melodic piano that form the foundation,
with sweet inspiring guitar runs. The alternative take of "Palm
Sunday" offers a similar foundation, but Jerry's fills are with
his voice rather than guitar.
concert favorites, "The Way You Do The Things You Do," and
"Don't Let Go" are included. Both songs have great vocals
that feature both Jerry and Donna; during
"The Way You Do These Things To Me" they sing
together, while the latter they primarily sing alternative verses. The guitar and
piano are infectiously in synch. To end "The Way You Do The Things You
Do" they show
inferences of stretching out. Meanwhile, the rendition of
"Don't Let Go" includes a full fledge jam with the track
lasting nearly 16 minutes yielding some prime JGB.
the bonus material from Cats
Down Under the Stars is among the best music of all the studio albums
in the 2004 box set re-mastering. However, it is not rare or unique
material so perhaps not as meaningful or essential. Stunning live versions
of many of these tracks with the
same line-up from a 1976 concert are on the Don't Let Go album.
Garcia box-set: All
Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions