- Released: February 25, 2003
- Originally Released: 2003
- Label: Rhino
Rolling Stone - 7/23/70, p.32
"...an excellent album....'Uncle John's Band', which opens the album, is, without question, the best recorded track done by this band..."
Rolling Stone - 5/13/99, p.955 Stars (out of 5)
- "...a modest, even penitent look back, not for nostalgic reassurance but for wisdom and perspective....maps the crises of the present onto the past and offers solace only in the ability of human virtues...to survive the most harrowing chaos."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.153
"Inspired by the first two Band albums and the harmonies of Crosby Stills & Nash....Homespun folk and frontier songs played and sung in a loose, lived-in manner and sung as an old tie-dye T-shirt."
- 1.Uncle John's Band
- 2.High Time
- 3.Dire Wolf
- 4.New Speedway Boogie
- 5.Cumberland Blues
- 6.Black Peter
- 7.Easy Wind
- 8.Casey Jones
- 9.New Speedway Boogie
- 10.Dire Wolf
- 11.Black Peter
- 12.Easy Wind
- 13.Cumberland Blues
- 14.Mason's Children
- 15.Uncle John's Band
- 16.Workingman's Dead Radio Spot
Contains the hidden track "Workingman's Dead Radio Spot" which follows "Uncle John's Band," live version.
Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia (vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar); Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (harmonica, keyboards, background vocals); Tom Constanten (keyboards); Phil Lesh (bass instrument, background vocals); Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann (drums).
Additional personnel: David Nelson (acoustic guitar).
The Grateful Dead's first four albums reinforced their stature as a performing group, with a loose improvisational feel rooted in the blues, rock & roll, and modern jazz. But with the 1970 release of WORKINGMAN'S DEAD, Garcia, Weir, Lesh, McKernan, Kreutzmann, and Hart reined in their many spatial musical elements and found their true stylistic niche in the studio with an engaging blend of country, blues, and folk. Where earlier studio releases strove to recreate the kind of freeform group improvisations that won the Dead a fanatical cult following in the Bay area, WORKINGMAN'S DEAD drew upon a rural American vernacular that was in many ways analogous to that of the Band.
The resulting music has a rootsy, timeless quality, with tight instrumental arrangements, concise solo breaks, and a carefully wrought style of vocal harmonizing. The Dead won extensive airplay with tuneful songs like "Uncle John's Band" and "Casey Jones," while expanding their following well beyond San Francisco. Garcia's slithering pedal steel counterpoint and twangy banjo rolls make for a charismatic new style of bluegrass on "Dire Wolf" and "Cumberland Blues," while "New Speedway Boogie," featuring some of Robert Hunter's best lyrics, is a pointed personal metaphor for the tragic chaos at Altamont the summer before. This remains one of the legendary band's most concise and beautifully executed records.