Saturday, September 08, 2007
The Grateful Dead - Anthem of The Sun
Can I just say that my review of the new Akron/Family album was way fucking off? I'm pretty sure that even in my earlier stages of listening that I didn't hate the album, but man, does the review make it seem like I did! It's not bad at all. In fact, it's awesome. It's not like they don't still sound like the greatest band in the world, after all. Now more than ever, actually. Those melodies just creep up on you after a few listens, which eventually helps you appreciate how hard and hilariously those songs rock a fuckin' bitch.
I saw them live last night, by the way! It might have been the best show I've ever attended. Let's just say that they played for two hours and that one of the songs was a 20 minute cover of "Turn On Your Lovelight." I was in the front, sweating my dicks off with drunk teenage girls, completely losing my shit to the Blessing Force. This dude behind me had these huge Grateful Dead pants and was shrooming like crazy. The amazing thing is that before Ak Ak's set began, he observed that nobody around us was moving during the opener, and he and I agreed to help everybody else "feel the love." But every time I looked back at him during the A/F set, he was barely swaying, due to being fried out of his mind. Awesome.
What with A/F being a band of bearded sexies whose duty seems to be to blast the wholesome sounds of the Dead, Neil Young, and the Band into the 21st century (suck one, Wilco), I found myself pretty inspired to throw on Anthem of The Sun and tell you a little about it. It's from 1968! Really! The Dead want to show you that they're not just a normal rock 'n roll band, that they're all about experimentin' and being "avant-garde" and "pushing the boundaries of what could be done in a recording studio." So they give you an album with FIVE SONGS because they think they're fucking King Crimson or something, the shits.
But the "prog explosion" hadn't really happened by this point, had it? So don't expect these "multi-part epics" to be all that ultra-serious and academic. A lot of it is just a bunch of dicking around! They'll play an actual part of a song with actual melodies and stuff, and then they'll splice in a live tape of them "jamming" in the good 'ol live concert environment. So it's "complex" music, but only in the sense that it's slightly more complex than using only concert tapes or just doing it all in the studio.
In fact, the "boundary crushing" production ends up just being one huge fucking mess, some of the funniest, most laughably excessive hippy nonsense crap you'll ever hear. Fortunately, the SONGS themselves are pretty good. The opener on this is "That's It For The Other One," which is completely awesome. It's a classic for a reason! It's a "multi-part epic" or something, and multiple parts of it do slay hot bitches. Phil Lesh's "New Potato Caboose" is okay, too. And then "Born Cross-Eyed" is just the fucking tits, mang. Bob Weir just fucking BRINGS IT with this song. Brief and rocking. Good shit. "Alligator" is pretty okay. "Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks)" doesn't have jack-shit going for it except for some noise at the end. But man, there's no song in there, really. Just ignore it... use it as time for you to reflect on how much better the rest of the album is and naked fucking sluts, also. They're all over this album. Mickey Hart, for example. Why am I reviewing a Grateful Dead album, lol.
Rating: The songs are actually pretty good, as are the jams. Put together, though, it all makes for quite the enjoyably horrible mess. It's the Dead at their "experimental peak," so it's at least interesting to hear them at this sort of phase in their career, trying to bring the "mind-expanding" aesthetic of their jams into their studiowork. Akron/Family looks up to this album, they do. You can definitely hear it in their longer songs like "Moment" and "There's So Many Colors," which clearly show an appreciation for the compelling ridiculousness of Yes and Gentle Giant, but also make it pretty obvious that their hearts are in the smelly American hippiness of the Dead. They clearly wish that "Roundabout" sounded more like Anthem of The Sun, and really, that's what they're trying to do, when you think about it! And they succeed. Oh, yes, they do. And their work is a shitload more focused than the music on this here album. Like Yes, they're down with melodies. Melodies upon melodies. And when they jam, the focus is less on some boring shit-jazz fusion guitar soloing and more on just making a big 'ol noise for God to beat one to. Love that fucking band. Anthem of The Sun is pretty cool, too. If you think it's cool to SUCK, that is! Aaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhh2hhhhh>0%p[o38h!!!!!!!!!!!
Song: The Frogs - It's Only Right & Natural