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Ladder to the Stars: Garcia Plays Dylan
     

Ladder to the Stars: Garcia Plays Dylan

by Jerry Garcia
 
Jerry Garcia had a musical romance with Bob Dylan throughout his career. The Grateful Dead were covering Dylan songs from their earliest days -- and did so until Garcia's death in 1995. An unofficial companion release to Postcards of the Hanging: Grateful Dead Perform the Songs of Bob Dylan, this set

Overview

Jerry Garcia had a musical romance with Bob Dylan throughout his career. The Grateful Dead were covering Dylan songs from their earliest days -- and did so until Garcia's death in 1995. An unofficial companion release to Postcards of the Hanging: Grateful Dead Perform the Songs of Bob Dylan, this set collects unreleased live recordings, from 1975 to 1993, of Garcia fronting various editions of his own bands, as well as four performances with the Grateful Dead itself. Garcia loved Dylan's work in toto, the less-revered tunes as well as the signature songs. So alongside favorites like "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," and "I Shall Be Released," we find versions of "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)," "The Wicked Messenger," and "Tough Mama." Each Dylan opus brings out the guitar poet in Garcia, who drapes gorgeous solos within their frames; the loose nature of Garcia's own bands allow plenty of room for extended improvisations. (Catch Garcia's silken phrases on "I Shall Be Released" for one prime example of many.) Garcia's fragile and affecting vocals also add personal dimension to these interpretations, turning Dylan's bitter cry on "Positively Fourth Street" into an outburst of wounded pain. Throughout, Garcia channels inspiration from another's words and melodies, communicating his own genius by way of Dylan's unsurpassed art.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
This double-disc anthology works well as a thematic companion to Postcards of the Hanging: The Grateful Dead Perform the Songs of Bob Dylan (2002). Similarly, Ladder to the Stars: Garcia Plays Dylan (2005) examines the unique relationship between the pair, featuring Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) in a variety of musical settings spanning nearly a quarter century. While the occasional exception exists, the contents are primarily presented in a chronological fashion. Rather than going all the way back to the pre-psychedelic Grateful Dead -- when the band included covers of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "She Belongs to Me" in its repertoire -- the earliest inclusion finds Garcia fronting a quartet alongside Merl Saunders (organ) through a blues-infused treatment of "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." Dylan provided Garcia with perhaps his most intimately interpreted material. As the liner notes point out, Garcia felt ."..right in those songs." Adding, "When I sing them I feel like I could have written them. I relate to them that well." Nowhere can that symbiotically beneficial relationship be heard better than the profound and practically spiritual "Positively 4th Street" circa the mid-'70s Jerry Garcia Band with Nicky Hopkins (piano) and Ron Tutt (drums). Garcia also chose obscure, deeper album tracks, making them very much his own. Examples abound, ranging from the brooding and methodical "Wicked Messenger" -- courtesy of the short-lived Legion of Mary -- to the exploratory funk driving "Tough Mama." On the opposite side of the backbeat are the lamenting "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and a humbling, if not reverential reading of "I Shall Be Released." By the mid-'80s the quality of Garcia's solo endeavors equalled -- if not surpassed -- that of the Grateful Dead. One constant was an ever-expanding stable of Dylan tunes. One of the songs that Garcia shared with both was the rollicking "When I Paint My Masterpiece." When it turned up -- usually in the first set of Dead shows -- Bob Weir (guitar/vocals) took the lead. Here, listeners are treated to a Garcia Band run through guided by some simply smouldering solos from the guitarist. Presumably in an effort to offer unreleased nuggets, the unplugged early-'90s take of "She Belongs to Me," with just Garcia, Weir, and Phil Lesh (bass), was passed over for a rendering by the 1990-era Grateful Dead. The band sounds spent and probably was as this particular performance happened to be the second of a rare double encore. An emotive and gripping "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)" by the Jerry Garcia Band and the poignant "Visions of Johanna" taken from the Grateful Dead's penultimate live show on August 8, 1995, are among the remaining highlights.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/2005
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0081227326326
catalogNumber:
885424
Rank:
12403

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jerry Garcia   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Mickey Hart   Drums
Bob Weir   Guitar
Merl Saunders   Organ
Nicky Hopkins   Piano
Gloria Jones   Background Vocals
Ozzie Ahlers   Keyboards
Buzzy Buchanan   Drums
Martin Fierro   Saxophone
Donna Jean Godchaux   Background Vocals
Keith Godchaux   Piano,Background Vocals
John Kahn   Bass
David Kemper   Drums
Bill Kreutzmann   Drums
Jackie LaBranch   Background Vocals
Phil Lesh   Bass
Brent Mydland   Keyboards
Melvin Seals   Keyboards
Ron Tutt   Drums
Bill Vitt   Drums
Vince Welnick   Keyboards
Johnny DeFoncesca   Drums
Legion of Mary   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Joe Gastwirt   Engineer
Steve Vance   Art Direction
Blair Jackson   Liner Notes
Christopher Sabec   Executive Producer

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