I heard so much that had previously been buried, not to mention an overall presentation that was more tactile, spacious, and especially three-dimensional. A majority of fare lacks any significant instrumental breaks. That said, I've never come across an original green label Warner Brothers pressing of American Beauty, though I have several such pressings of Workingman's Dead. Highly recommend this item to anyone trying to get into the Grateful Dead. Beyond that night, the live stuff is all new to me, I'm treading cautiously. For that reason I held out on buying this sacd because I thought any improvements would be minimal at best.
The first album is by far my favorite Dead studio album. The better my stereo gets the better that edition sounds. Here's what I found: the original pressing cut when the tape was fresh is not surprisingly superb sounding. All of the above lead me to pick it as the best track of the album in both criteria and worthy of demo material. The quality is all over the place. There are many times where there is simply a certain quality to the sound that does not permit of the highest marks. The album continued the Folk Rock and Country Music explored on Workingman's Dead and features the lyrics of Robert Hunter prominently.
Sound wise it's ultra clean sounding and a very laid back relaxing listen. Contrary to many recordings where the lead vocal or guitar soloist dominate the mix; here, as in typical - democratic - Dead character, every instrument is on a plain level field, reaffirming their egalitarian philosophy right down through the mix. I did this on two turntables fitted with different cartridges driving different phono preamplifiers and here's where this job gets difficult but not nearly as difficult as what's faced by the mastering engineers. The Dead recorded the foundations drums, bass, acoustic guitars of nearly every track live, which helps explain why American Beauty sounds so powerfully rich and clear. It has always been one of my very favorites.
By the same token, the sound aesthetics are perfectly conformant with the time period. Overall, the album sounds very good, but also very blended - individual vocals and instruments are hard to pick out. They create simple, pleasant and enjoyable vibes to relax with. The level cutting is a bit low as we have come to expect from a MoFi, so do not be shy of turning up the volume. Phil's voice comes through rich and three-dimensional on Box of Rain, and I there is a rich, twangy flavor to the acoustic guitars. I had assumed it related to Strawberry Studios that I thought was linked to 10cc.
Phil's vocals on Box of Rain are super crisp, and the harmonies from Jerry and Bob are deep and clear. This verges just beyond the accepted 20 minutes per side time limit for 33. Again, while I think your reaction to hearing these records on my system would be identical to mine, you may come to different conclusions on yours. The overall recording is ever so thin but not weak. I was with them in 83, under the stars unintentionally as an usher, and blown away more by the crowd than the music. The exquisitely recorded guitar plus its chorus effect is incredibly limpid. Are they cutting for the guy with the full range system like mine? The soundstage is wider; cymbals are finer in detail but still sweet plus lots of great vocal harmonies.
By the way, I'm always surprised when I point out to long-time fans of this album that the smokestacks and spewing smoke on the cover have been crudely penciled in. Understated amplified passages, graceful melodies, layered singing, and old-time string flavors — including mandolin work from masterful guest David Grisman — bestow the material with easygoing, comfortable vibes. It would make a nice electric complement to the two essential studio albums you have discussed. Another thought: your year end wrap up video in which you recommended some records that you hadn't had time to review was very effective. American Beauty is the most perfectly realized, superbly played, and openly natural folk-rock record ever released. Of course it played out after a few years. The second best song of the album presents the listener with superb sound.
The white spots are embedded bits of the old label, apparently. Both records are also ones where I think certain songs as they appear on those records are my favorite versions preferred over live performance versions. It consists of a series of critical modifications and new components to Mobile Fidelity's proprietary mastering chain. American beauty is great too, but workingmans has zero weak songs and also what has to be pigpen's best studio performance. Originally issued in 1970, Workingman's Dead Warner Brothers 1869 on the green keystone label, the album, for some mysterious reason hasn't had a vinyl reissue at least that I know about until Rhino did one a few years ago, mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering and more recently by Mobile-Fidelity on a double 45 set.
. Great beginings of the Dead 's great tunes that would be part of the live show till the end of the band. Great chemistry between the band on the studio and live tracks. Workingman's Dead somewhat mellow sound gives way to greater overall sonic precision, sharper transients, wider dynamics and a top end that can slice a bit particularly on sibilants. Yes its expensive , but well worth the £49. If you want better sonics I recommend from the vault vol.