Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Time Coming, Any Day...

Aaah, the Grateful Dead. I don't really think of myself as much of a Deadhead. I like them enough - I own three or four of the albums, maybe even a booter or two stuffed away in a box somewhere. Any self respecting fan of prog, folk and psychedelic music should lend an ear, and might find something to like. I went through a period in the late '80s when most of my friends were Deadheads, so I endured many hours of having the band's music inflicted on me. I went to shows, shared the mind altering "experiences" and so on and so forth. It left me with a few of their records, a dislike for the rabid singlemindedness of some of the more zealous 'heads, respect for the band's legacy and it's fans' willingness to follow the band all (stinky) summer long. And I never got a "classic" show the 5 or 6 times I saw them. The band's studio albums have been getting the remastered and expanded treatment this year, with the latest batch hitting shelves this week. Terrapin Station from 1977 is one of my personal faves of theirs. An outside producer, Keith Olsen, was brought in for the first time in 10 years, and the resulting album is one of the most polished of the band's career. I know a few 'heads who don't dig the polish, but I love it. The album's title track is a sixteen minute suite that features full blown orchestra and choir and lots of prog-prog-prog. The killer track for me is the album's opener, Estimated Prophet. A seven beat reggae tune, it's like the Dead's "Steely Dan moment", all shiny and grooving, with lovely ladies cooing and some great sax (and and a spine shiveringly good lyricon solo) courtesy of Tom Scott. This is a great headphones track, with guitars all over the place, slick syncopation and mysterious bass. According to singer Bob Weir (and taken from The Annotated "Estimated Prophet") "he and Barlow wrote the song from the perspective of a crazy, messianic zealot, a type which one invariably encounters in Deadhead crowds now and again. As Weir explains: 'The basis of it is this guy I see at nearly every backstage door. There's always some guy who's taken a lot of dope and he's really bug-eyed, and he's having some kind of vision. He's got a rave he's got to deliver.' In Estimated Prophet, the psychopath claims 'My time comin' any day, don't worry about me,' and Weir essentially lets him rave." Love it.

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