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Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time - Rated 261/500!
Rolling Stone 2015 Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Jam Bands: The Grateful Dead Rated 1st!
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American Beauty is the most perfectly realized, superbly played, and openly
natural folk-rock record ever released. This is a 1970 masterpiece with
unrivaled intimacy, realism, detail, and perspective. The Dead might as well be
sitting on a Persian carpet right in your living room.
The pinnacle of the Dead's studio output, American Beauty lives up to its
name—as well as that of the "American Reality" ambigram on the iconic cover.
Airy vocal harmonies blow like fresh breezes. Strummed acoustic guitars amicably
intermingle with plaintive percussive beats. Warmth, relaxation, and poignancy
envelop the performances and create sensations of bliss, peace, and honesty.
Songs flower with majestic melodies and emotionally direct lyrics. It's a rare
album that invites and makes you feel, restores one's faith, and renews one's
appreciation for all life offers.
The seamless, effortless integration of the group's vocals has always been a
high point of American Beauty, and when you hear it here, you'll want every
record you own to sound half as good. Every member's distinctive singing
resounds with tube-like clarity; the intended expressionism is as plain as day.
Instruments, too, resonate in glorious Technicolor. The supple tension of Phil
Lesh's bass lines, charismatic timbres of Jerry Garcia's pedal-steel fills, and
interwoven dialogue between the pianos and percussion are rendered with lifelike
scale and tone.
Made just months after its companion release, Workingman's Dead, the San
Francisco legends' second 1970 masterpiece furthers the former work's close-knit
relationship between country and folk while adding extra rock and bluegrass
currents. Understated amplified passages, graceful melodies, layered singing,
and old-time string flavors—including mandolin work from masterful guest David
Grisman—bestow the material with easygoing, comfortable vibes. Again taking
advantage of the best songwriting of Robert Hunter's career, the Dead turns in
its most collective studio performance, with every individual contributing
equally and focusing on nothing but the songs at hand.
Indeed, Garcia doesn't even indulge in a single guitar solo on the record. A
majority of fare lacks any significant instrumental breaks. The Dead recorded
the foundations (drums, bass, acoustic guitars) of nearly every track live,
which helps explain why American Beauty sounds so powerfully rich and clear.
Coupled with the band's personal reflections of the circumstances surrounding
them—Bob Weir's parents had died, Garcia's mother and Lesh's father were in the
process of passing, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan's health was in decline—these
characteristics combined to yield a purity of heart that exceeds that managed by
Dead peers (and roots revivalist leaders) The Band and Bob Dylan.
From Garcia's breathtaking gospel-laden homage to his mother ("Brokedown
Palace") to Lesh's healing salve in the form of the groove-based "Box of Rain,"
from Weir's jaunty and free-wheeling summer escape "Sugar Magnolia" to
McKernan's eloquently simple homespun plea "Operator," all the way to the
closing autobiographical anthem "Truckin'," American Beauty feels like the warm,
spirit-infusing embrace of a loved one after a long journey away. Welcome home.
• Mastered Directly from the Original Master Tapes!
• 1/2 Speed Mastered Original Master Recording Series
• Specially Plated and Pressed on JVC's High Definition Super Vinyl
• Special Static Free-Dust Free Inner Sleeve
• Limited Edition
Jerry Garcia, guitar, pedal steel, piano, vocals
Phil Lesh, bass, guitar, piano, vocals
Bob Weir, guitar, vocals
Pig Pen (Ron McKernan), harmonica, vocals
Mickey Hart, percussion
Bill Kreutzmann, drums
1. Box Of Rain
2. Friend Of The Devil
3. Sugar Magnolia
7. Brokedown Palace
8. Till The Morning Comes
9. Attics Of My Life