Pt. 2: The Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun
Here we go with a prime example of how this little hobby of mine has opened my eyes and ears, not just to music I’ve never heard before, but to music I’m familiar with but have given short shrift to. In this case, pre-American Beauty Grateful Dead. I had no idea of the experimental degree of this, the band’s second album and first to include second drummer Mickey Hart, released on this date 50 years ago. It is comprised of multiple studio and live tracks spliced together. It is neither a live album nor a studio album per se, but not in the same vein as so many well-known live albums from the 70’s and 80’s that had their imperfections edited out in the studio, a.k.a. “Frankensteined.” This was planned madness.
I’m going to stop right here with my personal thoughts on the Dead and Anthem and turn it over to my friend Mitch, whose influence on my musical tastes I shared in Pt. 1:
I have some strong feelings about ‘Anthem.’ It was one of those rare albums of the Sixties mixed entirely to enhance hallucinations and confuse one’s senses of time, place, and space. The entire bouncing back and forth from free wheelin’ live recordings to tight studio freak sounds like the kazoos at the beginning of ‘Alligator’ leave you hungry for synesthesia. There is a sensation of being both wrapped in a comfortable LSD quilt and then being tossed airborne for your first solo mission. ‘Anthem’ crawls under your skin, finds your nerve endings and politely tugs and twitches to the Lesh powered thunder, Gracia driven lightning, Pig pulled vocals, and beatings issued from the dueling drummers Bill and Mickey, all synchronized in controlled chaos.
All in all, some say ‘Pet Sounds’ is the American ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ I disagree. The Dead nailed the Wild West insanity of the Bay without the pop perfection of ‘God Only Knows.’ This album was the beginning of weirdness for hire, inner exploration, and outer expression.
Not in a million years could I have described it better than that.
- That’s It for the Other One
- New Potato Caboose
- Born Cross-Eyed
- Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)