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There and Back Again

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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. Hunter has a distinctive, wordy writing style, full of allusions, aphorisms, and wordplay that will be familiar to any Deadhead. 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 result is a surprisingly well-organized and accessible collection that is the best album yet made by a Grateful Dead spinoff band. This limited-edition version of the album, available through mail-order or as a digital download, includes another full disc containing a studio recording of "Passenger" and live takes of "St. Stephen," "Dark Star," and "The Eleven," all Grateful Dead evergreens co-written by Lesh. The playing on these tracks strongly echoes the Grateful Dead; in fact, in places, even Deadheads might be fooled. Taken together, the recordings reflect Lesh's willingness to take up his old band's standard, perhaps in hopes of regaining their massive following.

Customer Reviews


There are no bad tunes on this album, but there's nother amazing. Leave Me out of this and Welcome to the Underground are two good cuts, but the rest is nothing special. The second CD however is a little better, with a number of Grateful Dead tracks, but most of them you can't even buy on iTunes b/c their over 10 minutes.

So So Phil

An Okay album but nothing here really gets your heart pumping. There's too little Grateful Dead and too much Govt. Mule, in the end it sounds more like outakes from a Bob Seeger album, circa 1985.

The great and powerful "Phil Lesh"

Known as the Quintet, this lineup of Phil & Friends was mind blowingly powerful. Their epic jams and improvisations carried the spirit of the Dead catalogue "furthur" with firey leadwork and interplay between Warren Haynes, Jimi Herring and Phil, with Rob Barraco on keys, john Molo on drums. Vocals were also strong with this band with Rob , Warren, and Phil all taking leads and harmonizing extremely well. Robert Hunter contributed much of the lyrical content as well. While the real treat is to check out the volumes of live material out there from this line-up, this more listener friendly studio work is great. "No More Do I", "Night of a Thousand Stars", "Celebration", and "the Real Thing" are all fantastic songs. A great place to start before jumping into their more improve heavy live stuff. For me, this line-up is one of the all time great JamBands! Check them out!!

There and Back Again, Phil Lesh & Friends
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Customer Ratings