Down Beat - 1/02, p.745 stars out of 5
- "...A righteous document of [their] improvisatory discourse...flowing from strength to strength..."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.153
"Taking in jazz improvisations, blues, feedback and Pigpen howling and snarling through 'Turn On Your Love Light,' it was a revelation. It's still the most thrilling, compelling document of this most magisterial of bands."
Includes 2 untitled hidden tracks following "And We Bid You Goodnight."
The Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan (vocals, organ, congas); Phil Lesh (vocals, bass); Tom Constanten (keyboards); Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann (drums, percussion).
Producers: Grateful Dead, Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor.
Recorded live at The Fillmore West and the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, California in 1969. Originally released on November 10, 1969.
LIVE DEAD was the first 16-track on-location recording.
Among the finest of rock's live documents, LIVE DEAD is a snapshot of the Grateful Dead circa 1969, applying the free-jazz lessons of John Coltrane to their finely-tuned, manic, and flowing boogie. It was the first released piece of evidence that the live Dead were a wholly different, multi-headed animal than the one that recorded in the studio. LIVE DEAD was also the culmination of the group's evolution into what's now considered the vintage San Francisco sound--having perfected it, the Grateful Dead would soon leave it for fresher musical pastures.
While each of LIVE DEAD's selections calls to mind a specific trick from up the band's sleeve, the opening four songs (later dubbed "the holy quartet" by Deadheads) best indicates the Dead's burning trajectory. "Dark Star" lays out a wide-open musical terrain, allowing the band to leap anywhere from its minimalist-riff launching pad and its two verses of T.S. Eliot-inspired psychedelic prose. Here, it is a dark-hued and majestic sea of ambience and intensity. "St. Stephen" explodes like a shiny metallic cloud-burst, Bob Weir's fervent vocals carrying it like a holy torch. "The Eleven," a thunderous fury of a composition based on "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" and played in 11/4 time, continues the rumbling. By the time Pigpen ends the continuous sermon with a raucous sci-fi-R&B take on Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Turn On Your Lovelight," the Dead have seemingly sailed every corner of their musical universe and crash-landed with aplomb.