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Grateful Dead – American Beauty (1970)

September 5, 2018

[Album 614/1001]

Ye olde Enjoyment/Appreciation Matrix:




While numerous other records from the list have populated the first 3 categories, it’s possible American Beauty is the first member of the elusive 4th quadrant.

I really enjoyed it…but I don’t really get it.

Why was my enjoyment so high?

Despite some swift snare work by Bill Kreutzmann, the band never seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

Vocal harmonies abound and the whole record feels somewhat under-cooked, as in not overthought/overwrought, in the best possible way.220px-Grateful_Dead_-_American_Beauty.jpg

On my personal favourite track here, Ripple, they also seemed to anticipate my weakness for a well-placed (and well-played) mandolin; naturally I couldn’t help but enjoy American Beauty.

Yet, despite my considerable enjoyment, I feel like I don’t fully appreciate the group & their overall significance.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve never experienced them live?

So even if I won’t get to physically see them in person, a live Grateful Dead album is also on the 1001 list, appropriately titled Live/Dead.

As I gather the record does a fine job of capturing the live experience, I imagine my Grateful Dead appreciation will start to climb upon listening.

Can one still be a ‘DeadHead’ if their appreciation of the band hasn’t caught up to their enjoyment of the music?


Verbalize the Positive

For the first September in years, I’m not quite yet back to school – I’m currently thoroughly enjoying & appreciating a brief paternity leave!

From → 1970s

  1. I discovered this album while watching the tv show Freaks & Geeks! (and not in the movie American Beauty) . As you say, Ripple is a great song. Box of Rain is another that stayed with me.

    • Box of Rain was likely my 2nd favourite track! And thanks for the reminder to check out Freaks & Geeks, I’ve heard nothing but good things

    • I was about to comment the same thing, I cant see Greatful Dead without seeing Dave Gruber Allen

  2. I don’t know this one (or any other Dead) half as much as I should. Or would like to. I have a few live collections, though… mostly thanks to the 30 Days of Dead events. I enjoy what I know, though.

    • And so far that describes me too J – I enjoy what I know, which so far isn’t a great deal by the Dead!

  3. Having seen the Dead live once, I prefer the records, I did not enjoy the audience, the same experience I had seeing Phil Lesh when him and Dylan went out on tour. Now American Beauty is a good one.

    • Interesting to hear Neil – so maybe it’s just as well I missed the live show.
      And I think I have you to thank for me ending up at this album this week, your recent reviews of early 70s Crosby had me in the mood for this era!

  4. (makes fart noises on back of hand by way of reviewing this album)

    • An efficient review – it appears your appreciation/enjoyment of this album would not put you in the high/high quadrant!

  5. I need to spend more time with this, but I’m pretty sure I like it. I like how they got CSN to teach them to sing harmonies.

  6. I like the Dead. I like this album and Workingman’s Dead. I don’t consider myself a Dead Head.

  7. “Brokedown Palace” is my favorite track on that album. The sound is so surreal.

  8. The Dead are always a weird listen. I have a 2cd “hits” type of set here. I think I owned this album at one point. Did I review it? Probably not. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Dead. This is a decent listen. Good on ya!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 380 albums in 3 years! | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1970 | 1001albumsin10years

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