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Wanted Dead or Alive

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iTunes Review

While David Bromberg’s first two albums had been nearly entirely acoustic and often austere affairs, the beloved guitarist finally cut loose on his third LP, 1974’s Wanted Dead or Alive. This album unites the gentle country picking of West Coast hippie culture with the sweltering R&B and jazz of the Deep South: a marriage epitomized by the presence of both The Grateful Dead (longtime cohorts of Bromberg) and The Sweet Inspirations (a gospel-infused R&B group led by Cissy Houston). With its Caribbean flourishes, the Dead-led version of “The Holdup” (cowritten by Bromberg and George Harrison) is one of the album’s highlights, setting the tone for the panoply of horns that reappear on “Danger Man,” “Wallflower,” and “Kansas City.” The brassy arrangements give the often gawky-sounding Bromberg an injection of red-blooded passion, but there’s no denying that folk music is the bedrock of his style. Gently ambling and expertly played, “The Main Street Moan” highlights the spiritual bond Bromberg shared with Jerry Garcia, but Bromberg could also grasp an audience by himself.

Customer Reviews

You want this album

I first heard David Bromberg play at Cholmondeley's (the small venue at Brandeis University) in 1974. Subsequent to that I heard him in Passim's in Harvard Square probably a year or two later. My freshman roommate had introduced me to his music and I became a lifelong fan. I'm not a musician or a music critic so I'll do the best I can do to explain why I love Bromberg's recordings. Bromberg is a big city kid from the north and he plays blues, country, and folk music with an urban sensibility. That is he brings a slightly self-concious, intellectual awareness to the music and the lyrics (espcially) rather than performing them "straight". And he sees the humor in the music and the lyrics and isn't afraid to include those insights in his performances. I don't see how anyone could listen to Bromberg's Kansas City without smiling or outright laughing. And how do you do a rendition of Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair that's so catchy you'll hum it to yourself for years and smile everytime you do? The virtuoso playing and great backing band carry the day and keep the light heartedness from becoming parody. Once you listen to this album you'll want Midnight on the Water, too, which is a great companion to Dead or Alive. Enjoy!

Bromberg's a National Treasure

Been a big fan of Bromberg's for many years. His snide, almost "sneering" attitude towards odd aspects of society could place him in the comedy section if not for his technical expertise on the instruments he plays, his excellent songwriting skills, and unique vocalizations. A real American folk treasure, his music will surely be appreciated generations from now. An album like this is all too rare - it swings, it rocks, it gets jazzy, it gets bluesy, it punches you in the face and buys you a beer. A must-have album for any serious music collector, and an enjoyable choice for casual entertainment.

An Excellent Collection of David Bromberg

This album features more of David's, including favorites of mine, The Holdup, Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair, and The New Lee Highway Blues. His "backup band" on this album includes a guy named Jerry Garcia, a bass player named Phil Lesh, and a drummer named Bill, and they undoubtedly learned a lot from playing from the masterful David Bromberg.


Born: September 19, 1945 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

A strikingly gifted multi-instrumentalist with an intuitive understanding of American roots music styles and a sly sense of humor, David Bromberg has earned a following for his many solo recordings and has served as a sideman and collaborator with some of the most respected artists in his field. David Bromberg was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 19, 1945, and spent most of his childhood in Tarrytown, New York. As a teenager, Bromberg got hooked on rock & roll and began exploring the...
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