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Wake of the Flood [Bonus Tracks]

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The First of the Dead's Overlooked Studio Gems

    While it could be argued that the group's first two Arista albums fall into this category also, I only include the Dead's three studio albums on their own Grateful Dead Records. That is simply due to the fact that, as popular as many of these songs became in concert, the albums didn't sell as well as their predecessors or successors due to the difficulties the Dead ran into, well, running a record label. However, each of the GDR albums has more than a few songs to recommend it. Wake of the Flood may be the most consistent song-wise, excepting the "Weather Report Suite" psychedelic showpiece. Really, this album is more than a little like Workingman's Dead or American Beauty, in that all of the shorter songs seem to be of a piece, with the standouts being "Row Jimmy", "Stella Blue", "Eyes of the World", and possibly "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" (try saying that quickly). Only "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away", a Keith Godchaux/Robert Hunter composition misses by a step or two, and that's mainly due to Godchaux's own lead vocal. Had Garcia or Godchaux's wife, Donna Jean (this is the first studio album that either of the Godchaux's had worked on with the Dead), sung the song, it may well have come off as a stunner. As it is, Wake of the Flood was an auspicious debut for Grateful Dead Records, and still stands as a source of songs that found near-permanent status in the setlists that evolved after the Dead returned to the road in 1976 (or was it '77? Can't remember). Get it in the deluxe edition while you can, as the superb remastering rivals even that of the last go-round for the Pink Floyd catalog.

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