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About The AlbumEdit

In 1965, five uniquely talented artists from a variety of musical backgrounds came together to form a new kind of band. Guitarist Bob Weir, drummer Bill Kreutzmann and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan all served stints in various Bay Area rock and R&B outfits; Jerry Garcia played guitar and banjo in a jug band and bassist Phil Lesh was a composer of electronic music.
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

The Grateful Dead's first album was released in 1967. It was followed by Anthem of the Sun (1968), Aoxomoxoa (1969) and the double live album Live Dead (1970). All three were aimed at capturing the Grateful Dead concert experience on record.
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

With the release of Workingman's Dead in late 1970, the group made a sharp stylistic shift. Produced by Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor and the band, the album features eight original songs written by Garcia and lyricist Rober


t Hunter. The material reflects clear country, blues and folk influences; the arrangements are sharp and concise; the performances lilting and subtle.

Workingman's Dead is the fourth studio album by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded in February 1970 and originally released on June 14, 1970.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 262 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

The album was reissued in 2003 in three different ways; as part of the The Golden Road (1965-1973) 12-CD box set, as a remastered and expanded CD, and as a DVD-audio release. The first two contain eight exclusive tracks not found on the original 1970 release while the latter contains just the original tracks rendered in DVD-audio.



Making of the albumEdit

The title of the album comes from a comment from Jerry Garcia to lyricist Robert Hunter about how "this album was turning into the Workingman's Dead version of the band," a play on the fact the band had recently been covering Merle Haggard's song "Workingman's Blues" in concert.

The band returned to the Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco to record the album and spent just nine days there. Garcia noted that "let's do it all in three weeks and get it the hell out of the way." Besides the weight of their debt in producing their previous album, Aoxomoxoa, the band was also dealing with the stress of a recent drug bust in New Orleans—which could have possibly resulted in jail time—and their manager Lenny Hart (father of drummer Mickey Hart) skipping town with a sizable chunk of the band's wealth. "In midst of all this adverse stuff that was happening ... [recording the album] was definitely an upper,"
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

said Garcia in an interview.

Garcia has commented that much of the sound of the album comes both from his pairing with Hunter as well as the band's friendship with Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Hearing those guys sing and how nice they sounded together, we thought, 'We can try that. Let's work on it a little,'" commented Garcia.


Songs such as "Uncle John's Band," "High Time"
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

and "Cumberland Blues" were brought to life with soaring harmonies and layered vocal textures that had not been a part of the band's sound until now. According to the 1992 Dead oral history, Aces Back To Back, in the summer of 1968, Stephen Stills vacationed at Mickey Hart's ranch in Novato. "Stills lived with me for three months around the time of {CSN's} first record," recalls Hart, "and he and David Crosby really turned Jerry and Bobby onto the voice as the holy instrument. You know, 'Hey, is this what a voice can do?' That turned us away from pure improvisation and more toward songs."
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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

Warner Bros. released "Uncle John's Band" backed with "New Speedway Boogie" as a single, but it received limited airplay. This was neither, as earlier postulated, because of length issues nor concerns about profanity, since the single issue had been edited to a very radio-friendly three minute length and the word "goddamn" removed. Still, it would become the band's biggest U. S. hit single from the time of their inception until "Touch of Grey" more than fifteen years later. "Casey Jones" was also released as a single, but did not chart in the U. S.

Lyricist Robert Hunter appears as the seventh member on the cover of the album.

The album was voted by readers of Rolling Stone as the best album of 1970, in front of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Déjà Vu and Van Morrison's Moondance.

Track listingEdit

  1. "Uncle John's Band" – 4:45
  2. "High Time" – 5:14
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    Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

  3. "Dire Wolf" – 3:14
  4. "New Speedway Boogie" – 4:06
  5. "Cumberland Blues" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh) – 3:16
  6. "Black Peter" – 5:43
  7. "Easy Wind" (Hunter) – 4:58
  8. "Casey Jones" – 4:38
  9. "New Speedway Boogie" (alternate mix) – 4:10
  10. "Dire Wolf" (recorded at Santa Rosa Veteran's Memorial Hall on 6/27/1969) – 2:31
  11. "Black Peter" (recorded at Golden Hall Community Concourse in San Diego on 1/10/1970) – 9:07
  12. "Easy Wind" (recorded at Springer's Ballroom in Portland on 1/16/1970) – 8:09
  13. "Cumberland Blues" (recorded at the Oregon State University Gym on 1/17/1970) – 4:52
  14. "Mason's Children" (recorded at the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu on 1/24/1970) (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh, Weir) – 6:32
  15. "Uncle John's Band" (recorded at Winterland on 10/04/1970, incorrectly listed in sleevenotes as recorded at Winterland, 12/23/70) – 7:57
  16. "Radio Promo" – 1:00


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Photo shoot for Workingman's Dead by Stanley Mouse.

PersonnelEdit

Grateful Dead


Additional performers
Production
  • Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor – producer
  • Greg Allen, David Singer – design
  • Stanley Mouse, Henry Diltz, Amalie R. Rothschild – photography
  • Tom Flye, Jeffrey Norman, Rudson Shurtliff, Alembic – engineers, mixing
  • Scott Heard, Ramrod – equipment technicians
  • Robin Hurley – audio production
  • Andrew McPherson – authoring
Reissue production credits
  • David Lemieux, James Austin – reissue producers
  • Vanessa Atkins – editorial supervision
  • Gary Peterson – liner note coordination
  • Jo Motta – project coordinator
  • Jimmy Edwards – product manager
  • Joe Gastwirt – mastering, production consultant
  • Daniel Goldmark – editorial research
  • Eileen Law – research
  • Rachel Gutek, Hugh Brown – design, reissue art directors
  • Michael Wesley Johnson – associate producer
  • Steve Silberman – liner notes, project assistant
  • Bill Belmont, David Gans, Jeff Gold, Bill Inglot, Blair Jackson, Gary Lambert, Steve Lang, David McLees, Hale Milgrim, Jeffrey Norman, Randy Perry, Janette L. Simmons, Owsley "Bear" Stanley – project assistants

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