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AlbumCovers-GratefulDead-Anthemofthesun(1968)

About The AlbumEdit

The Grateful Dead first came to national prominence in the late-60's as San Francisco's premier psychedelic band. The group's initial line-up consisted of Jerry Garcia (guitar), Phil Lesh (bass), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards), Bob Weir (guitar) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums).

The group's self-titled debut album, released in 1967, was recorded in three days. Anthem of the Sun, their 1968 follow-up, took six months to complete.

The group recruited two new members for the project: drummer Mickey Hart and keyboardist Tom Constanten. Recording began in Los Angeles and subsequently moved to New York where the group, with producer Dave Hassinger, experimented by grafting in-concert recordings with studio sessions. The live material had been recorded early in 1968 during a tour of the Pacific Northwest.

On several tracks, most notably "That's It For The Other One," overlays of several concert performances were mixed together to create a multi-dimensional song suite. The album's second side highlighted a pair of live show-stoppers; "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)" and "Alligator."

Composed entirely by the Grateful Dead, Anthem of the Sun featured a range of additional instrumentation including kazoo, vibraslap, Celesta Claves, harpsichord, prepared piano and electronic tape.

Anthem of the Sun is the second studio album by the Grateful Dead, released in 1968. It is the first album to feature second drummer Mickey Hart, who joined the band in September 1967. In 2003, the album was ranked number 287 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

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November 1967

Making of the albumEdit

The band had entered the American Studios in North Hollywood with the same producer, David Hassinger, as their eponymous debut album, in November 1967. However, the Dead were determined to make a more complicated recorded work than their debut release, as well as attempt to translate their live sound into the studio.

The band and Hassinger then changed locations to New York City in December of that year, where they found themselves going through two other studios, Century Sound and Olmstead Studios (both "highly regarded eight-track studios"). Eventually, Hassinger grew frustrated with the group's slow recording pace and quit the project entirely while the band was at Century Sound, with only a third of the album completed so far. It has been reported that he left after Guitarist Bob Weir requested to create the illusion of "thick air" in the studio. Hassinger commented that "Nobody could sing [the new tracks recorded in NYC], and at that point they were experimenting too much in my opinion. They didn't know what the hell they were looking for." Garcia noted that "we want[ed] to learn how the studio work[ed]. We [didn't] want somebody else doing it. It's our music, we want[ed] to do it."

The band then recruited their soundman, Dan Healy, to assist them in the studio for the rest of the album and they headed back to San Francisco's Coast Recorders studio. In between the Los Angeles and New York sessions, the band began playing live dates. Lesh commented that this was in part because the songs were not "road tested." Healy, Garcia, and Lesh then took these concert tapes (encompassing two Los Angeles shows from November 1967, a tour of the Pacific Northwest in January/early-February 1968, and a California tour from mid-February to mid-March 1968) and began interlacing them with existing studio tracks. Garcia called this "mix[ing] it for the hallucinations."

Adding to the psychedelic madness on the album was Tom Constanten, a friend of bassist Phil Lesh who joined the band in the studio to provide piano and prepared piano (influenced by John Cage) tracks; Constanten would formally join the band in November 1968. His contributions to the band's sound were always much more evident in the studio than in their live shows, and Anthem of the Sun was no exception. Constanten made it so that the piano pieces seemed like three gamelan orchestras were playing all at once. He even went so far as to use a gyroscope set spinning on the piano soundboard. All in all, the album turned out as psychedelic as intended. The band used a large assortment of instruments in the studio to augment the live tracks that were the base of each song, including kazoos, crotales, a harpsichord, timpani, guiro, and a trumpet. Garcia commented that parts of the album were "far out, even too far out ... We weren't making a record in the normal sense; we were making a collage." In order to get more publishing royalty points on the album, the opening track "That's It For The Other One" was artificially divided into four other "songs" by the band. Robert Hunter, a longtime friend and then-future songwriting collaborator of Jerry Garcia, made his first lyrical contributions to the band, providing Lesh and Pigpen with the words to "Alligator".

Joe Smith, president of Warner Bros. at the time, was noted as calling Anthem of the Sun as "the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves."

Early pressings of the album include the phrase "The faster we go, the rounder we get" inscribed on the vinyl in the matrix around the label area. This was the inspiration for Rounder Records name.

A remixed version of Anthem of the Sun was issued in 1972 (with the same product number, #WS-1749), and can be identified by the letters RE after the master numbers.

Although the chaos of the final product makes it difficult to tell where many of the live excerpts used in the creation of Anthem Of The Sun actually ended up, significant fragments of "Alligator" (e.g. the post-vocals "jam section") known to hail from a show at San Francisco's Carousel Ballroom on 2/14/68. Also the "Alligator" vocal reprise is taken from 11/10/67 at the Shine Exposition Center. Similarly, the skeletal framework of "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)" dates from the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium show on 11/10/67 and at the Carousel Ballroom on March 31st 1968. Extended excerpts from two shows at Kings Beach Bowl in Lake Tahoe, CA on 2/23-24/68 that provided music for the album (most notably the car horn heard at the end of "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)") were later released on the live archival recording Dick's Picks Volume 22. A further show from this period further reveals portions used for the album such as the verse(s) section of "The Other One" portion of "That's It For The Other One" as well as the first half of the "New Potato Caboose" jam (after the vocals) were used on Anthem Of The Sun, hailing from 3/17/68, was released as the Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 6.

Track listingEdit

  1. "That's It for the Other One" – 7:40->
  2. "New Potato Caboose" (Lesh, Robert Petersen) – 8:26->
  3. "Born Cross-Eyed" (Weir) – 2:04
  4. "Alligator" (Lesh, McKernan, Hunter) – 11:20->
  5. "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir) – 9:37
  6. "Alligator" (8-23-68 Shrine Exposition Center, Los Angeles, CA) (Lesh, McKernan, Hunter) – 18:43->
  7. "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" (8-23-68 Shrine Exposition Center, Los Angeles, CA) (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir) - 11:38
  8. "Feedback" (8-23-68 Shrine Exposition Center, Los Angeles, CA) (Grateful Dead) – 6:58
  9. "Born Cross-Eyed" (single version) (Weir) – 2:55 [Unlisted Bonus Track]

Musical personnelEdit

Production personnelEdit

Recording locationsEdit

Studio tracksEdit

Live tracksEdit

It is believed that the majority of the live music on the finished record is from the February 14th Carousel Ballroom date.

Reissue production credits

  • James Austin and David Lemieux - reissue producers
  • Peter McQuaid - executive producer, Grateful Dead Productions
  • Michael Wesley Johnson - associate producer, research coordination
  • Eileen Law - archival research, Grateful Dead Archives
  • Cassidy Law - project coordination, Grateful Dead Archives
  • Jeffrey Norman - additional mixing on bonus tracks
  • Joe Gastwirt - mastering, production consultant

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