7 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

It makes a funny bit of sense that The Grateful Dead's most commercially successful studio album would come in 1987—20 years after their debut—on the back of the band's only Top 40 single, "Touch of Grey." Deadheads always swore the albums never caught the chemistry of the live shows, so why not find their heroes enjoying a second wind at a point when they could use it? Garcia had suffered through a near-fatal illness in the mid-'80s and had to rebuild his strength. This sense of mortality can be heard on the hit single and on "Black Muddy River," a song he might have been thinking would be his last. Other Garcia/Robert Hunter tracks ("When Push Comes to Shove," "West L.A. Fadeaway") catch an easygoing, natural bluesy sway. Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow hold up their end with the smooth and professional "Throwing Stones," which recalls Dire Straits with Garcia's sleek guitar sounds. "Hell in a Bucket" featured input from keyboardist Brent Mydland. Both tunes found their way to classic rock radio. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

It makes a funny bit of sense that The Grateful Dead's most commercially successful studio album would come in 1987—20 years after their debut—on the back of the band's only Top 40 single, "Touch of Grey." Deadheads always swore the albums never caught the chemistry of the live shows, so why not find their heroes enjoying a second wind at a point when they could use it? Garcia had suffered through a near-fatal illness in the mid-'80s and had to rebuild his strength. This sense of mortality can be heard on the hit single and on "Black Muddy River," a song he might have been thinking would be his last. Other Garcia/Robert Hunter tracks ("When Push Comes to Shove," "West L.A. Fadeaway") catch an easygoing, natural bluesy sway. Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow hold up their end with the smooth and professional "Throwing Stones," which recalls Dire Straits with Garcia's sleek guitar sounds. "Hell in a Bucket" featured input from keyboardist Brent Mydland. Both tunes found their way to classic rock radio. 

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