“Taking notes on vocal harmonies from friends Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Dead used the softer statements of their fourth studio album as a subtle but moving reflection on the turmoil, heaviness, and hope America’s youth was facing as the idealistic ’60s ended. American Beauty was recorded just a few months after its predecessor, both expanding and improving on the bluegrass, folk, and psychedelic country explorations of Workingman’s Dead with some of the band’s most brilliant compositions.” – Fred Thomas (Allmusic)
It took me a while to get into Grateful Dead, but when they hit me, they hit me hard! This is my second favorite of their albums (my number one is Workingman’s Dead) I should say studio albums, because I really love their early 70s live stuff.
American Beauty is the sixth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between August and September 1970 and originally released in November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. The album continued the folk rock and country music explored on Workingman’s Dead and prominently features the lyrics of Robert Hunter.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great – much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River Country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.
~Bob Dylan (Jerry Garcia’s Obituary – 10 August 1995)
Bruce Hornsby inducts the Grateful Dead at the 1994 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:
Classic concert movie: Sunshine Daydream with Grateful Dead 1972
Sunshine Daydream is A Music Documentary Film Starring The Rock Band The Grateful Dead. It Was Shot At Their, August 27 1972 Concert, At The Old Renaissance Faire Grounds, In Veneta, Oregon. Directed by John Norris.
Unreleased for many years, the movie was sometimes shown at small film festivals, and bootleg recordings of it circulated on VHS and DVD, and as digital downloads. A digitally remastered and reedited official version of the film was released on August 1, 2013, showing only one time in selected theaters. It was screened with Grateful Days, a new documentary short that includes interviews with some of the concert attendees. Sunshine Daydream was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 17, 2013.
Sunshine Daydream is also a live album containing the complete August 27, 1972 Grateful Dead concert. Produced as a 3–disc CD and as a 4-disc LP, it was released by Rhino Records on September 17, 2013.
The name Sunshine Daydream is taken from the coda section of the Dead song “Sugar Magnolia”.
In the Dark, their first studio LP since Heaven, reverses that sorry trend. Its seven songs – averaging six minutes each, just like old times – hark back to the sprawling, easygoing charm of their hallowed American Beauty era. Despite nods to technology in the form of synthesizers, sound effects and a startling “programming” credit, this sounds more like a Dead record than anything they’ve done in years
~David Browne (rollingstone.com)
The Grateful Dead’s last lineup returned intact for In the Dark, an album that ironically thrust the band back into the spotlight on the strength of the band’s lone Top 40 single, “Touch of Grey.” Fans had long mused that the Dead’s studio albums lacked the easygoing energy and natural flow of their live performances, and In the Dark does come close to capturing that lightning in a bottle.
~Dave Connolly (allmusic.com)
June 14: The Grateful Dead released “Workingman’s Dead” in 1970
Workingman’s Dead, in part inspired by the rustic soul of the Band, ranks as the Dead’s studio masterpiece, followed closely by American Beauty. The focus is on the songs, rather than the jams, and these would provide the focal point of an era, spanning 1969–74, when the Dead played some of the most remarkable concerts in American history, virtually every one available in some incarnation thanks to the band’s dedicated tapers.