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There and Back Again

Phil Lesh

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Album Review

After releasing Love Will See You Through, a live album featuring onetime guests like Jorma Kaukonen, Phil Lesh organized a permanent touring and recording band under the moniker Phil Lesh & Friends. This quintet, with an instrumentation that replicated the Grateful Dead's except for the inclusion of only one drummer, featured former Allman Brothers Band guitarists Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring, former Zen Tricksters keyboardist Rob Barraco, and former Bruce Hornsby & the Range drummer John Molo. There and Back Again is this unit's first studio album and, not surprisingly, it sounds like a cross between the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. Lesh has made one other crucial connection, bringing in Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter to write the words for six of the 11 songs. (One of them is "Liberty," a Jerry Garcia co-composition the Grateful Dead performed toward the end.) Hunter has a distinctive, wordy writing style, full of allusions, aphorisms, and wordplay that will be familiar to any Deadhead. The leadoff track, "Celebration," with music by Lesh, is very much the product of the team who wrote the Grateful Dead's "Box of Rain"; it is a statement of purpose, proclaiming a recommitment to a positive viewpoint despite "stolen elections, corruption, and hate." Haynes, who does most of the singing (though Lesh and Barraco get leads, too), was a careful student of Gregg Allman's throaty style, and his stinging slide guitar work recalls Duane Allman. For the most part, the bandmembers keep their natural tendency to jam in check, placing emphasis on the well-written songs. The tracks run four to six minutes each and usually fade out with the band still playing, so this material no doubt stretches out in concert. The result is a surprisingly well-organized and accessible collection that is the best album yet made by a Grateful Dead spinoff band.

Customer Reviews

One of the Top Live Bands of All Time

Disregard the above review...this isn't a nostalgia act. At this time--in 2002, the Phil Lesh Quintet was hottest rock/jam band in America. True, this is an improvisational live act trying to capture its magic in the studio--but this CD features a more organic production and playing than most all of the Dead's studio albums. And more than half of the songs are really good. Robert Hunter wrote the lyrics for a lot of them....listen to No More Do I, and Night of a Thousand Stars, and Liberty for stunning and original wordplay that holds up to Dylan and the Dead classics. The Real Thing is a familiar tale of a rock and roll hero nearing his end....but told with Warren Haynes passison and grit. Finally, Patchwork Quilt and Again and Again are a tad sentimental...but I've always maintained that no jam band has ever matched the Dead's ability to tug at your heart with a finely constructed, emotional ballad, and these are my two favorite tracks. Guys, this band isn't pretending to be anything they're not. But each of the members is an extraordinary virtuosso in their own right...and ttheir individual voices shine....these songs hold up over time. I still haven't stopped listening to it!

Deadheads Unite!

I GAVE THIS ALBUM THREE STARS ON THE SIMPLE FACT THAT ITS BY Phil Lesh. THIS ALBUM IS YES......"DISSAPOINTING" BUT DESPITE ITS MELODIC FO FUM THE TRACK "PATCHWORK QUILT" IS DEDICATED TO THE LOSS OF JER BEAR AND IT T'AINT HALF BAD. JUST LIKE THE GRATEFUL DEAD(AND EVEN MORE SO IN THIS CASE) Phil Lesh And Friends IS MUCH MORE ENTERTAINING LIVE THEN IN THE STUDIO. MAYBE NEXT TIME PHIL!

Biography

Born: March 15, 1940 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Famed for his three-decade stint as the bassist with the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh was born March 15, 1940, in Berkeley, CA; rooted in jazz and classical performance, he initially explored the violin and trumpet and, while attending Mills College, studied avant-garde composition and electronic music under the tutelage of Luciano Berio. In 1965, Lesh joined his friend Jerry Garcia's band the Warlocks, soon rechristened the Grateful Dead. He remained with the group for the remainder of its existence,...
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There and Back Again, Phil Lesh
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