|Origin:||USA and Europe|
|Label:||Warner Music (2020)|
|Format:||2 X LP|
|Genre:||Classic Rock , Folk Rock , Rock N|
Sealed brand new album 50th Anniversary edition.
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
The band again recorded at Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco, spending just nine days there. After the protracted sessions required for the previous two studio albums, Garcia suggested "Let's do it all in three weeks and get it the hell out of the way". Besides trying to avoid the debt that had accumulated while recording Aoxomoxoa, the band was dealing with the stress of a recent drug bust in New Orleans – which could have resulted in jail time. Additionally, they returned from a tour to find their soon-to-be-fired manager, Lenny Hart (father of drummer Mickey Hart), refusing to show the books to anyone else in the organization. "In midst of all this adverse stuff that was happening ... [recording the album] was definitely an upper," said Garcia in an interview.
Lyricist Robert Hunter had joined the band on the road for the first time, resulting in a period of faster song development. Unlike the psychedelic, electrified music for which the band had become known, the new songs took a new direction, reviving their folk-band roots. Bassist Phil Lesh stated "The song lyrics reflected an 'old, weird' America that perhaps never was ... The almost miraculous appearance of these new songs would also generate a massive paradigm shift in our group mind: from the mind-munching frenzy of a seven-headed fire-breathing dragon to the warmth and serenity of a choir of chanting cherubim. Even the album cover reflects this new direction: The cover for Aoxomoxoa is colorful and psychedelic, and that of Workingman’s Dead is monochromatic and sepia." In recent years, a search revealed that the photograph was taken at 1199 Evans Avenue in San Francisco.
Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, the companion album that followed months later, were, according to drummer Bill Kreutzmann, both influenced by the Bakersfield sound. He explained "We tried to be like a Bakersfield band – but one that still sounded like we were from 300 miles north of that town ... we held to our psychedelic roots. Workingman's Dead was all about discovering the song ... American Beauty became all about having the harmonies to do that".
While on tour in Boulder, Colorado, the previous year, Garcia had purchased a steel guitar and was now keen to use it on the new batch of songs. Lesh explained, "Just as with any other instrument he picked up, he made it sing. The main impetus for this development was the nature of the new songs Hunter and Jerry had been writing; many of them had a decidedly country flavor ('Dire Wolf,' 'Friend of the Devil,' 'High Time,' 'Casey Jones,' 'Ripple'), and Jerry began using the new axe on these as they were slotted into the set lists. Bobby [Weir] also began bringing in covers of his favorite country tunes and some originals in that vein, so we were starting to see a trend developing. Personally, I was thrilled that the band could make such a complete musical about-face while still maintaining the flat-out weirdness that I’d come to know and love."
Songs such as "Uncle John's Band", "High Time", and "Cumberland Blues" were brought to life with soaring harmonies and layered vocal textures that had not previously been a part of the band's sound. According to the 1992 Dead oral history, Aces Back to Back, in the summer of 1968, Stephen Stills vacationed at Mickey Hart's ranch in Novato. "Stills lived with me for three months around the time of CSN's first record," recalls Hart, "and he and David Crosby really turned Jerry and Bobby onto the voice as the holy instrument. You know, 'Hey, is this what a voice can do?' That turned us away from pure improvisation and more toward songs."
Garcia 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'."