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American Beauty (2013 Remaster)
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Who says discipline is a bad thing? No one who's heard American Beauty, the Dead's greatest studio achievement. Showcasing 10 concise, country-rooted gems that sound equally good whether you're hanging on the front porch in the afternoon or nursing a bottle after hours, this one could win over many an anti-Jerry. Bewildered by loss both personal and social--the hippie dream was quickly crashing by Beauty's 1970 release date--the band put its querulousness ("Box of Rain") and wry humor ("Truckin'") into the service of a masterwork. The most impressive cut of all may be "Ripple," Garcia's spiritual credo. --Rickey Wright
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 5 x 5.63 x 0.39 inches; 3.25 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Warner Bros Uk
- Original Release Date : 1990
- SPARS Code : DDD
- Date First Available : December 7, 2006
- Label : Warner Bros Uk
- ASIN : B000002KBH
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,968 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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Musically, this does sound like a continuation of where the band left off with Workingman's Dead. The album has rightly attained legendary access and features a number of songs that would be closely associated with the band. Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Candyman, Ripple, Brokedown Palace and Truckin' are considered stone cold classics by just about every Head I've ever heard from. For me, there really isn't a weak song on the album. It's nothing short of amazing that this album turned out as well as it did when you consider that Jerry lost his mother, Phil lost his father, Mickey's problems and what happened with his father. This would also be the last GD studio album until Wake of the Flood three years later. The sound on this edition is quite good while the artwork and the book are lavishly done.
The last two discs are given to the entire show from Thursday 2-18-71 at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York which was professionally recorded for possible use in what would become Grateful Dead (aka Skull & Roses). This was the first show out of six over the next week but nothing was used from the run for Skull & Roses. The show would find the band debuting several new songs at this show: Bertha, Loser, Greatest Story Ever Told, Johnny B. Goode, Wharf Rat and Playing in the Band. The band was joined by Ned Lagin for this show and this would be the last show with Mickey Hart until 10-20-74. The performance is generally very good although there are a few rough spots as you would expect at a Dead show with a few first time performances. The sound quality is about as good as it gets as this was professionally recorded and it's been fully mixed and mastered.
The original album (Disc 1) sounds a bit more open and clean which is always nice even if its not worlds away different sounding from the last reissue. Nothing really has to be said about this set of tunes--one of the best studio albums the band ever released.
The live show (Discs 2-3) is well worth hearing. Mixed from 16 track analog master tapes, and recorded by Bob Mathews and Betty Cantor (a "Bob and Betty"tape) the show is one great performance after another. Plus the debut of five new songs: "Playing In The Band", "Bertha", "Wharf Rat", "Loser", and "Greatest Story Ever Told". Plus there's a great 21 + minutes "Dark Star>Wharf Rat>Dark Star" jam that's a good example of the Dead's approach to their music during this era. But the entire show is pretty inspired sounding, ranking near the top of other good shows we've heard. Ned Lagin ("Seastones") sat in with the band for added flavor. There's also good live versions of "Truckin'", "Loser", "Hard To Handle", "Big Boss Man", "Playing In The Band", "St. Stephen", and "Uncle John's Band" among other tunes.
The packaging is similar to previous anniversary reissues. The discs snap into trays. There's an informative 20 page booklet with a fairly lengthy essay by David Browne and some period photos and note from producer David Lemieux. There's also a photo of artist Alton Kelley in his studio with the cover graphic on his worktable--a nice touch. The four-fold cardboard packaging comes in an open ended slipcase card with an embossed cover graphic--no lenticular cover--which would've looked quite nice considering the Kelley graphic. There's a track list for the live show and recording/production credits on two inside panels. The back cover has the original album graphic and a complete list of tracks for the three CDs.
As most everyone would agree, this album can easily sit alongside any other great studio album the Dead ever released. And having a great show from around the same era is what a lot of fans will gravitate towards. This is well worth adding to your shelf of great Dead reissues.
Top reviews from other countries
The tracks on this iconic record were to become staples in the Grateful Dead's live shows and it is fitting that this 50th anniversary edition is accompanied by a complete live show from the Capitol Theatre NY from 18 February 1971 where five completely new songs "Bertha", "Greatest Story Ever Told", "Loser", "Playin in the Band" and "Wharf Rat" were played for the first time and THAT jam on "Dark Star" that is still talked about by Deadheads in hushed tones as if it is the Holy Grail. Although recordings from this wonderful concert have been available on the Archives for some time, it is great to hear a cleaned up version of this iconic show. It does not get any better than this.
Yes, a humble assessment. but a wrong one. The Dead made some of the most beautiful and enduring albums of their era. This one, American Beauty, is one of the best. To me, it hasn't dated in the slightest. Never have such transcendent lyrics been couple with such superb melodies ans sensitive playing. If you have never heard this album-boy are you in for a treat. One of the best albums ever made.
I am in a minority regarding the live set, though. 18/2/71, and the first of a run of shows at Portchester. It is the worst of the run-several new songs are played for the first time, and it sounds like it. Even comparative warhorses like Hard To Handle sound hesitant and unsure. In fact they slow down so much on that one, that during the instrumental break down it sounds as though they are going to stop playing all together. Maybe they would have done if Pigpen hadn't woken everybody up when he resumes singing. Its not all bad-the Dark Star-Wharf Rat-Dark Star is the stuff of legend, and the band seem to find their collective mojo in the last half hour and rock out in fine style. The downside to this final rock out is Ned Lagin's tootling keyboard. Some friend he turned out to be.
Curiously, it was Mickey Hart's last show for a few years. Obviously dissension in the ranks as he played the first show of the run and then left.
Still - this is a great release. Just don't go thinking 18/2/71 represents the band at its best. And i should perhaps add that many Deadheads love 18/2/71-so maybe its just me.
I love this album, I already have this on an old vinyl record, and that plays fine, albeit a few clicks and pops, but it is 40 odd years old.
So I thought I'd treat myself to this record, as I'd already heard the 50th Anniversay CD, and the remastering is great, and I like things on vinyl, I have a good set up, maybe that's why I can hear any faults? (I genuinely didn't know this was a picture disc when I ordered it) I remember buying Curved Air Airconditioning in '72 I think, and that was a bad sounding record) When I got this, I hoped that it would play ok, maybe I'm wrong, but I do think the printed surface is the reason it sounds so bad
So I'm sorry I cannot recommend this at all. and can only it two stars only, purely because It does look good, and would be great as a piece of art, maybe on a wall.. but that's all.
disc 2/3 another live disc from Chester '71 and again highlights what a spellbinding live band,when they are on it,they are on it.
Packaging excellent,fold out dig pak,superb booklet and comes in a lovely embossed slip case