Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jerry Christmas

You know I go hot and cold with the Grateful Dead, which is an improvement over the close-minded kid who showed no respect at all, not even for Jerry. But even on the cold days, their debut is still one of my very favorite records. So as I revisited this gem, a bonus track from the 2003 Rhino reissue jumped out at me. Give a listen to an instrumental version of "Death Don't Have No Mercy." If any longtime Dead fans want to share some info about this, I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, it is Jerry Garcia's guitar playing that has kept me in the game and this track is a prime example of why I stick around.



wardo said...

Based on your endorsement, I will check it out.

FD13NYC said...

Sorry, not and never was a Dead fan. Go ahead and call me close minded if you will. I'm not going near this one. I'll get in trouble again. So, I'm clean.

FD13NYC said...

Actually, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead were pretty good offerings for sort of the mainstream.... Ooops, there I go, oh no. I can't, please someone stop me!!

buzzbabyjesus said...

I shoplifted "Europe '72" from a department store when I was 15.
I saw them once (Warren Zevon opened with "Werewolves of London"), but never felt any affinity for Deadheads, who are fans for different reasons than me.
I can't get into "Anthem Of The Sun", and am not too familiar with the first one, but "Aoxomoxoa", "Workingman's Dead", "American Beauty", are great records.
3 sides* of "Skull and Roses", and "Garcia" qualify as well.
"Wake of The Flood", and "Mars Hotel" have some good songs on them, but things go downhill rapidly from there.
The Grateful Dead taught me to appreciate Country Music, Bluegrass, and folk music in general, but I can't handle the side long jams*. I guess you had to be there and dosed to really appreciate them.

Sal Nunziato said...

You nailed it, Buzz!

My first introduction to the Dead was hearing those lazy radio hits, "Truckin'," "Casey Jones," etc. Next, 35 minutes of "Dark Star." Suddenly, I hate the band, and the Deadheads didn't help matters.

It's like being told The Beatles are great and then hearing "Octopus' Garden" and "Revolution 9" out da box.

First time I recognized how brilliant Jerry's playing was, was on DP's 8, Harpur College 1970. The first set is basically and acoustic bluegrass set, and it kicks ass.

The reason I love the debut so much is because it's just as much a psych-garage record as it is a country blues record.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Death Don't Have No Mercy" is exactly as you described.
Jerry's playing is superb.
I once had a scratchy copy of the debut, but it's clear I need to give it a fresh listen.
I think people who say they hate the Dead haven't really heard them.
"You mean you hate Deadheads",
I usually say.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have you on the bus Sal.
Anyone who dislikes music based on factors unrelated to the music is losing out, and choosing style over substance.
If you don't like certain songs from a band (I don't like entire Neil and Dylan records, but I'm a huge fan ) but you love many songs and albums from that same band, aren't you still a fan, but simply not a blindly devoted one ?
I have "punk" pals who insist they "couldn't like the Dead because of punk orthodoxy, which is as idiotic an oxymoron as any I've heard. Why is it I can like anything I want, wear anything I want, and I happen to like the Dead AND the Dead Boys?

I LOVE that Sal has come around on the Dead, because that's you being true to yourself and not caring about image, and I love even more that he has done so without loving everything ( few Deadheads do either, hence the "picky Deadhead" term )because great music is great music and external considerations (clothes, image, who else likes or dislikes them )are meaningless. Do you like films or books based on who else likes them? I hope you don't.

Anonymous said...

Ha, I thought I hated the Dead for years because I knew so many Deadheads and they were such a turn off, and also, it was the 70s and early 80s, when you'd be at a party dancing to the B-52s and some Deadhead would say, "This will really get the party rocking," and then put on some fuzzy 80th-generation concert tape of Jerry and co. noodling away. But they made a lot of terrific music, though I still don't know how you dance to it, even that twirly "dancing" Dead Heads do.

Sal, I recently discovered this first album too and am quite fond of it; deserves a better rep than it has, even among fans. Also, to Buzzbabyjesus, check out the first side of Blues for Allah. To me, it's their peak on record, except for "Uncle John's Band."

Bruce H

big bad wolf said...

first, on that side chat that is beyond me: sonny rollins, a god visiting us.

the dead: i too first knew, as sal, wonderfully says, the lazy radio hit. then for me europe 72, which i really liked. but then they went all poppy on me, shakedown street and go to heaven. then i liked them again, although no one could ever convince me that dark star of space were for anyone bu the brain dead. my live experieinces of them were mostly positive, except for space/drums, which once cause me to say "this must be what eternity seems like after awhile," a line that all the stoners around me appeared to accept as original, further annoying me. i grew disgruntled and at one show, when they opened with jack straw, was thinking of walking because i figured it was all downhill.

i still think there was an awful lot of excess and an awful lot of stuff i don't need to hear again from the live jams, but damn bob has his moments and jerry grows on me month by month. he is so sweet, so raw, so wonderful a guitarist. and i think i want box of rain played as they release my ashes. a very flawed, but sometimes really great band.

rob e said...

first album is a great place to start, be awae this is a "bonus track" not available on stock versions

Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with you on the who,e Dead thing. There really are two bands and they kind of break down like the two sets of a concert. One plays a little more focused and the other is just out there. I never need to hear Dark Star again...that goes double for drums and space!

On the other hand I can't get enough of Workingman's Dead, American Beauty and Jerry's first album. Reckoning doesn't suck either. I also really dig In the Dark which was a really strong album in my opinion.

They did make a boatload of good music to go with some total crap.

Sal Nunziato said...


"Black Muddy River" is one of the most heartbreaking and beautifully sung songs of recent memory. I'm a fan of "In The Dark," myself.

Eric said...

say what u want about the dead---they never did a setlist tour and u rarely knew what tune was up next...

God is love... Doris from Dartford

charlie c. said...

Sal--you asked about the song, right?!?
Name two other bands/artists wherein the fans are as much of an issue as the music. Always stumped me. People hate (me) because I am a fan of this and that?!? Longtime American tradition that if you are having fun digging something that someone else doesn't get -- well you suck and should probably die.
Love to Sal - an original American beauty!