[Arista AZL 8604]
Acoustic Grateful Dead, like acoustic Hot Tuna, is a treat rarely put to vinyl, let alone heard in public. During the fall of 1980 (between September 25 and Halloween to be exact), the Dead rectified the aforementioned situation by giving extended concert series in San Francisco and New York that featured prominent acoustic sets. The first of two two-record sets documenting these historic concerts has just been released. Reckoning (Dead Reckoning… get it?) makes these sets available to those of us who missed the concerts or who aren't fanatical enough Dead Heads to have some of these performances on various bootleg tapes.
Jerry Garcia's voice still has a limited range but it's always a pleasure hearing him and the boys do the traditional folk songs and country numbers they've integrated into their repertoire. For example, Elizabeth Cotton's "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie" is given a moving and poignant treatment. "Bird Song" from Garcia's first solo album and "Cassidy", the ode to Dharma bum Neal Cassidy recorded on Weir's solo debut, Ace, are other memorable pieces too. Perhaps the biggest treat is hearing "Dire Wolf' and "Ripple", songs first recorded when the Dead released Workingman's Dead and American Beauty (Reality) way back in 1970. I just hope that "Uncle John's Band" appears on volume two of this series.
- Mitchell Feldman