11 Songs, 1 Hour 9 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Whereas the Grateful Dead’s first official live album, 1969’s Live/Dead, explored the band’s early interest in jazz-infused psychedelia, Skull & Roses exposes its down-home roots. More than half the album is comprised of covers of classic country, blues, and early rock ’n’ roll songs. In 1971, to hold up Merle Haggard and Buddy Holly as your heroes was still a bold position, but the Dead’s love for Americana was so pure and unaffected that even the naysayers were drawn in by sweet, shuffling renditions of “Mama Tried” and “Not Fade Away.” The Garcia/Hunter original “Bertha” and covers of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Big Railroad Blues” (originally done by Cannon’s Jug Stompers) reasserted the band’s love for old-fashioned rollicking rock, in spite of their growing reputation as the preeminent purveyors of space music. The album’s pinnacle is the first appearance of the classic “Wharf Rat,” a hallucinatory lament that captures the anger, sorrow, and grace of all the long lost blues records beloved by this band.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Whereas the Grateful Dead’s first official live album, 1969’s Live/Dead, explored the band’s early interest in jazz-infused psychedelia, Skull & Roses exposes its down-home roots. More than half the album is comprised of covers of classic country, blues, and early rock ’n’ roll songs. In 1971, to hold up Merle Haggard and Buddy Holly as your heroes was still a bold position, but the Dead’s love for Americana was so pure and unaffected that even the naysayers were drawn in by sweet, shuffling renditions of “Mama Tried” and “Not Fade Away.” The Garcia/Hunter original “Bertha” and covers of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Big Railroad Blues” (originally done by Cannon’s Jug Stompers) reasserted the band’s love for old-fashioned rollicking rock, in spite of their growing reputation as the preeminent purveyors of space music. The album’s pinnacle is the first appearance of the classic “Wharf Rat,” a hallucinatory lament that captures the anger, sorrow, and grace of all the long lost blues records beloved by this band.

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