Saturday, November 12, 2011

258 American Beauty. Damn near perfect.

Album: American Beauty
Artist: The Grateful Dead
Year: 1970
Genre: Rock


  1. Box of Rain
  2. Friend of the Devil
  3. Sugar Magnolia
  4. Operator
  5. Candyman
  6. Ripple
  7. Brokedown Palace
  8. Till the Morning Comes
  9. Attics of My Life
  10. Truckin'
American Beauty is part two of the dual package you can bust out if anyone ever tells you The Grateful Dead couldn't write songs. Paired up with Workingman's Dead, it's proof that Garcia and Co deserve to be held up as one of the great bands in American music history.

Beauty may not have pushed the Dead in any new directions from their last album. They didn't reinvent themselves or take any bold risks, instead they took the blueprint they'd already set and improved on it further. It's another set of great songs.

Ripple, Box of Rain, Attics of my Life, Brokendown Palace and Friend of the Devil are all gorgeous songs and the equal of anyone writing folk-rock at the time. The last four became regular staples of the Dead's live set with Friend of the Devil becoming one of their most played songs. Ripple however was given a few outings before being dropped because the band could never quite do it justice onstage. It needed an acoustic arrangment which is why it was broken out when the Dead did a run of unplugged shows in 1980 (years before MTV ever had the idea). The live album Reckoning has an acoustic version of Ripple that will make you smile on a cloudy day. It's definitely worth hunting down.

But American Beauty isn't all lightness and hippie folk. Sugar Magnolia is one of Weir's best rock songs but is easily eclipsed by Truckin which closes the album out. Truckin is one of the great roadtrip songs. If you need to get behind the wheel and travel make sure Truckin is on your musical playlist. The groove is enough to warrant a few good spins but the line "What a Looooooong strange trip it's been!" is one of Rock's great singalong moments.

I literally don't have a bad word to say about American Beauty. It's blissful and wondrous and just looking at the cover makes me happy.

Once again I highly reccomend you not only get this album but pick up the remastered reissue with added live versions. If it starts your journey towards appreciating live Grateful Dead then it's a first step well worth taking.

Influenced by: CSN and LSD
Influenced: A lot of people who previously wrote The Dead off completely.

Highlight: Truckin
Lowlight: Operator

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "like man I put this disc on for my siameses cat Reggie and I swear to god he tried to gnaw through the radio plug, luckily I unplugged it. So I was all like " What gives lil Reggie you don't feel the Dead?" and he was all like licking his tail then he took a nap."

-Right. Deadheads are often accused of enjoying illicit substances but I think their detractors are capable of knocking back a tab of acid or two as well.

So am I right to rave so much about the Beauty or am I just getting carried away? Let me know below.


  1. Cant believe nobody has commented on this yet. Im not a deadhead but this is a great disc- thanks for putting me onto to it mate

  2. No worries. And just because you're not a deadhead today doesn't mean you won't be one tomorrow.