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Jerry Garcia - The Very Best Of
Review By Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Rhino has put together a very comprehensive picture of Jerry Garcia's solo work outside of the Grateful Dead. Two discs, one studio and one live, give an aural picture of one of the best guitarists ever.

Jerry Garcia was a pioneer in guitar playing, loving both acoustic and electric music. Garcia's secret was very simple, he played runs that to the bluegrass picker were very familiar and he never left the melody too far away. Basically, Garcia took his acoustic prowess and applied it to his electric playing, he loved to play in triplets, a series of three note runs, which became a copied style.

Garcia loved the studio, but flourished on the stage. The first disc has sixteen tracks from five albums. The most songs are from Garcia, his first solo album, perhaps his best. It is remixed and remastered very well, giving it a real warm analog sound. Garcia's favorite album was Cats Under The Stars, and there are three songs from it. This is the first time we see the expression "Jerry Garcia Band" as it contained Dead members and other musicians that played a lot with Garcia thru the years. This album is full of creativity and probably the other super stand out besides Garcia which was just him and Bill Kreuztman on drums. Garcia's solo albums were all released in the seventies except for Run For The Roses, which was released in the early eighties. 

Garcia (As The Dead) were better live, there was a special connection with his audience that he fed off of. Briefly, let me say, Garcia made the best effort to give a concert goer a great experience with sound systems, speakers, down to his guitar. In the seventies, Garcia had a handmade Irwin guitar called the "Wolf". It had a strat pickup on it to get that sound, plus he had an active preamp right on the guitar where he could hit a switch and crank out a blistering lead or get some great sustain. 

Probably, the bass player you would find with Jerry most was John Kahn and drummer Ron Tutt. Keith and Donna Godchaux played a lot with him and the configuration was always changing. Garcia does a killer version of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" on the live side from 1977 with the configuration I mentioned playing on this. 1977 was a special year for the Dead and Garcia and many would argue their best. He is at his best on this song and gets a chance to jam it out to a reggae beat. Nice vocals too. 

There are ten live songs (three acoustic and seven electric), filling up the disc. Great versions of "Ripple", "Deal" and "Positively Fourth Street" by Dylan. 

A real special treat is "Dear Prudence", previously unreleased from 1979. It is about eleven minutes long, with a funky beat going that turns into an awesome jam. There are some horns on the song and Merle Saunders on keyboards. Garcia really takes off in the later parts of this song, playing as fast as I have ever heard him, yet in perfect control.

This 2-Disc set is a must have for Deadheads or those wanting some real vintage Garcia in their collection. Great sound provided by Rhino and members of the Grateful Dead organization.

Imprint - Rhino 


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Disc: 1 
1. Deal
2. Bird Song 
3. Sugaree 
4. Loser 
5. The Wheel 
6. Let It Rock 
7. Russian Lullaby 
8. Might As Well 
9. Mission In The Rain 
10. I'll Take A Melody
11. Rubin And Cherise 
12. Cats Under The Stars
13. Rhapsody In Red 
14. Run For The Roses 
15. Knockin' On Heaven's Door 
16. Without Love 
Disc: 2 
1. Catfish John (1973) 
2. Deep Elem Blues (1987) 
3. Ripple (1987) 
4. Positively 4th Street (1975)
5. The Harder They Come (1977) 
6. Gamorrah (1990) 
7. Dear Prudence (1979)
8. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) (1990) 
9. Evangeline (1990) 
10. Deal (1980)

Related Links:  
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