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.
Uncle John’s Band:
June 14, 1970
Country rock, rock
Workingman’s Dead is the fifth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded in February 1970 and originally released on June 14, 1970.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 262 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Of course they don’t sing as pretty as CSNY–prettiness would trivialize these songs. The sparse harmonies and hard-won melodies go with lyrics that make all the American connections claimed by San Francisco’s counterculture; there’s a naturally stoned bemusement in their good times, hard times, high times, and lost times that joins the fatalism of the physical frontier with the wonder of the psychedelic one. And the changeable rhythms hold out the promise of Uncle John’s Band, who might just save us if we’ll only call the tune. Inspirational Verse: “Think this through with me.” A ~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)
Garcia has commented that much of the sound of the album comes both from his pairing with Hunter as well as the band’s friendship with Crosby, Stills and Nash. “Hearing those guys sing and how nice they sounded together, we thought, ‘We can try that. Let’s work on it a little’” commented Garcia.
All songs written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter except where noted.
“Uncle John’s Band” 4:42
“High Time” 5:12
“Dire Wolf” 3:11
“New Speedway Boogie” 4:01
“Cumberland Blues” (Garcia, Hunter, and Phil Lesh) 3:14
“Black Peter” 5:41
“Easy Wind” (Hunter) 4:57
“Casey Jones” 4:24
Jerry Garcia – lead guitar, pedal steel guitar, vocals