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Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa

review grateful dead x1 cong

The Grateful Dead inspire absolute devotion among their aging fans. We’re too young to be fans, but even so we trekked to the Dead’s house in San Francisco (we were in the city, it wasn’t a special journey). This album is a 50th anniversary reissue and it is reportedly their most experimental.

While we’re still not going to be committed Deadheads it’s easy to see why the band was so beloved. This is complex and varied music, highly inventive and sucking in a number of other genres, from jazz to classical and even to fake wild west. Dupree’s Diamond Blues resembling the Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon. If you were off your face on drugs — one fan legend says the “Grateful Dead” on the cover can be read as “we ate the acid” — it was probably unbelievably good.

Despite being a seven-piece band (or maybe because), it’s delicate and complex, and probably very non-threatening for anyone on a trip, and the psychedelic What’s Become of the Baby is an actual trip (lyrics: “Waves of violet go crashing and laughing / The rainbow-winged singing birds fly ‘round the sun’”).

The title of the album is a meaningless palindrome, pronounced “ox-oh-mox-oh-ah”. If you wonder why the Dead still live on, this is probably a good place to start.


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