Dead: American Beauty
-Box Of Rain-
Rux: Grateful Dead… American Beauty.
Take twenty-seven. Quarter ‘til midnight.
Skid: It’s November 15. 15 minutes
‘til the “Great American Smoke-out.” We are covered in nicotine
Rux: Damn. I don’t even smoke, and
I’m covered in nicotine patches. It’s going to do something
very terrible and crazy to me.
Skid: Total sleeplessness.
Rux: We seem to have the Grateful
Dead playing for some reason…
Skid: “Look out of any window.” This
music sounds like Sesame Street.
Rux: It’s got the Sesame Street
groove. That is kind of true. I’m glad that it’s this early
Grateful Dead stuff, instead of the late 70’s or early 80’s
stuff where they really sucked.
Skid: Aigggh. You’re going to have
dog crunching on a bone through this whole thing… if you know
what I mean.
Rux: This is one of the 2 decent Grateful
Skid: Is it? I’m sure I can’t tell
Rux: Oh, I think you could tell the
difference. I think what you’ll find is on this record, and
on Workingman’s Dead, I think, that they actually wrote
songs that were able to be listened to. And then later, they
wrote songs like that stupid song that everybody knows. What’s
it called? “Something Gray…”
Skid: “Shade of Gray?”
Rux: “Shade of Gray”… I don’t know
if this is Jerry singing, or if this is Pigpen.
Skid: Was Pigpen on this album? I
thought he was only on the first one.
Rux: Oh yeah. He was only on the self-titled
Skid: They’re both dead.
Rux: That’s true. I guess its kind
of a moot point, based on the whole mortality thing.
Skid: They seem to be very slow and
kind of noodly, and jangly. Why do you reckon it is that country
music never latched on to the Grateful Dead?
Rux: Because of their live show?
Skid: Because they were damned dirty
Rux: Because of the drugs. Because
of the fact that they did these 2 or 3 records where it was
pretty much country. But you went to see them live, and everyone
was all toked up, and everything lasted 12 minutes longer
than the 3-minute song that it began as. That’s what I think.
Skid: I mean, the psychedelia, really,
I haven’t heard any Grateful Dead that is psychedelia. It’s
all Crosby, Stills, Nash… Harmony shit.
Rux: Yeah. I know what you mean. When
I think of psychedelia, I don’t think of the Grateful Dead.
I don’t know what I would classify them as, other than “that
hippy crap.” I say to my friends, “Hey, are you listening
to that hippy crap?”
Skid: Why aren’t there Jefferson
Airplane Heads? And Jethro Tull Heads?
Rux: There are. But none of those
bands played live with the consistency and the drug usage
that these guys did. Perhaps. But I think that there are,
in that era of bands, there are definitely large fans of those
bands that you mentioned. But no one that actually followed
the band around for 20 years.
Skid: Because the music is not really
invasive at all. It’s just a backdrop for the culture.
Rux: You know, that’s the thing. When
does the music become a culture? I’m sure it’s different for
this band than it was from any other seminal band from any
other type of music. You know, you get these seminal bands
that somehow define the movement.
Skid: It’s that they were at the right
place at the right time. And you can tell by how much we’re
talking during this, that really there is nothing in the music
itself that is of note.
Rux: I never listened to this enough
to realize that it was so Crosby-Stills-Nash-ish. Hey
dude, you got some Nashish?
-Friend Of The Devil-
Skid: They are even more lax on the
harmonies. Crosby, Stills, Nash will go off on a regular
basis, but these guys aren’t real tight with their harmonies.
Rux: And they are not real complex
harmonies either. They are pretty pat old country harmonies.
(Sings) “Friend of the devil is a friend of mine…” Now I like
this song… I always forget about this one when people mention
the Grateful Dead.
Skid: Nice simple little bass line.
“Whacka do whacka do whacka do…”
Rux: It’s a bluegrass tune. And I
just like the lyrics in this tune. There’s just something
in it that appeals to me.
Well, this goes along with my whole theory that the reason
they were as popular as they were, and Jethro Tull
wasn’t, or 13th Floor Elevators weren’t,
and any other number of bands…
Rux: Are you going to tell me that
they are in the Rolling Stone’s boat?
Skid: Yes. They sold their soul to
Rux: I’d buy that for a couple bucks.
Skid: That’s the only way that I can
explain their popularity.
Rux: Somebody else singing here…
Skid: How can you tell?
Rux: I don’t know. The voice sounds
different. I’d go along with your sold the soul to the devil
Skid: There’s a little mandolin in
Rux: Yeah. You know, these couple
early records had that whole folk/country vibe, and I really
dug that. I wish I could have seen them live back here when
they were first started.
Skid: I see what happened… They were
trying to get players and telling people they were a drug
band… but they thought they said “jug band.”
Rux: They did say jug band. But everyone
thought they said drug band.
Skid: Oooh… so everyone showed up
for this drug band.
Rux: It was merely mistaken phonetics
that set the stage for the Grateful Dead.
Skid: Phonetics and Fate… hmmm hmmm
That’s fate with a p-h?
Skid: That’s Phate. That’s phate,
Skid: These grooves be phate.
Rux: Homes… That’s a nice little reverb
at the end there.
Skid: Your dog sucks. (Laughter.)
Rux: Is this “Sugar Magnolia?” This
is more of what I think of with the Grateful Dead. It’s got
some weird guitar thing that sucks.
Skid: The music is really not God-awful.
It’s just that with all the hype that they garnered over the
years, I have a natural backlash to them. A natural aversion,
if you would.
Rux: Yeah, and you actually went to
a show once and didn’t see the band. I only know Grateful
Dead-Heads. I never went to a show and was immersed in the
Skid: Yeah. I never saw the stage
once. I just saw the audience. Which was quite interesting,
and I could see the attraction. But some lady put a sticker
on me, and I made sure not to touch it.
Rux: Yeah, cause that stuff will come
in through the pores in your skin, you know.
Skid: Yeees.. Some sort of Bart sticker
Rux: Bart sticker?
Skid: I don’t remember what it was…
oh, my Nyquil is kicking in. My hands feel warm. I’ve got
the St. Vitus Dance.
Rux: You’ve got the dance? The St.
Skid: Yes. My hands are getting flushed.
My hands are blushing.
Rux: I don’t understand your biblical
Ummm… All right. (Sings) “She’s got everything delightful,
she’s got hairy legs and feet.”
Rux: Okay, you know why this isn’t
country music? It’s too fucking happy.
Skid: It is.
Rux: It’s like feel good country music.
And that is that that should not be.
Skid: Why didn’t the Grateful Dead
ever have a morning cartoon show?
Rux: I don’t know. Maybe because Fat
Albert would have kicked their hippy asses.
Rux: Hush your mouth.
Skid: Hey, I’m just talking about
Rux: And I can dig it.
Skid: That song didn’t do anything
Rux: No. There are a couple of Dead
songs that I like, and one of them is “Ripple,” which we get
later on this record, I think.
Skid: Oh… all right, how many songs
have to say “Operator.” Disconnect me.
Rux: Connect me. Disconnect me.
Skid: Information, please.
Rux: Okay, let’s go through them.
Skid: Jim Croce. “Operator,
let’s forget about that call.” Sisters of Mercy. “Operator,
disconnect me if you can.”
Rux: Yazoo. “Got to get the
operator, make a telephone call. My bags all packed and I’m
ready to go.”
Skid: “Long distance information…”
Rux: That’s Johnny Rivers.
Skid: “Smooth Operator.” Chardonnay.
Rux: That was Sade.
Skid: And who did it before her? That
was a cover song.
Rux: Was it, really?
Skid: Yeah. The original was about
5 years earlier, but it was just a small hit.
Rux: There was one in the 80’s. Thompson
Twins or Berlin. Some chick singer had a song about
Skid: All right folks, we’re done
with it. Moratorium on the operator songs.
Rux: No more operator songs… But you’re
not including train operator songs, right? Engineer songs?
Skid: I was thinking about that. I
heard “Engine # 9” today.
Rux: Did you? Sweeeet. This just kind
of makes me want to light up the incense and turn down the
lights. We’re just not getting the full effect.
Skid: Oh… I forgot: “Hello operator,
give me number 9, if you disconnect me I’ll kick you from
Rux: The traditional folk song. The
traditional American folk song.
Skid: Yeah… the traditional small
folk song. That small folks would sing.
Rux: Okay, we’re on to the next song
now. This one I like more, because I don’t have to think about
it at all. It’s kind of got some noodling around here in it.
Kind of a Roy Orbison vibe happening.
Skid: Go away dog. (Chases
Oh wait. I see why fantastic
they were all so very. Oh yes, indeedy…
Rux: Hmmm. I sense some sarcasm in
Skid: Oh no, it just hit right then.
That was the point…
Skid: It finally sunk through my skin.
Rux: That was a Grateful Dead flashback
getting to you. So, you’ve decided to sell your soul to the
Skid: Well, blues has already been
taken, boys. Rock’n’roll. Blues rock… You’re going to have
to do some blues country. Errrrrr.
Rux: Well, we’ll do what we gotta
do… I can’t imagine sitting through this crap night after
night and being a deadhead. They must have to have the drugs.
Skid: Well, you could probably – if
you weren’t all doped up – get a lot done, because the music
doesn’t require you to sit here. You could get up and clean
the house. Shave your legs, and get a shower.
Rux: But it’s not really making me
Rux: No. It’s kind of putting me to
sleep, and maybe that’s the hour, but…
Skid: Its not grabbing me and making
me lean towards the speakers though.
Rux: I see what you’re saying. You
may as well get up and walk around, because there is nothing
Skid: You may as well spin crazy circles.
What the hell…
Rux: Here’s kind of a fake steel guitar
Skid: How do they play this without
falling off their instruments?
Rux: I don’t know. When I play music
this slow, I fall asleep.
Skid: Have any Grateful Dead members
ever fallen asleep on stage?
Rux: I should imagine… Undoubtedly.
Skid: I wouldn’t blame them. You tell
me they had two drummers?
Rux: Yeah, they had the original drummer,
and then the Mickey Hart guy they brought in to be a drummer
and I guess the percussionist. Maybe they don’t actually have
two drummers, per se. But they have a drummer and a percussionist.
Skid: I thought if one fell of his
stool…(laughter) I imagine they brought blankets to the shows…
Rux: Blankets and pillows?
Skid: That’s where the teddy bears
Rux: Oh, the sleepy time teddy bear
Skid: That’s why they have Grateful
Dead bears… fall asleep with their pillows, their slippers.
Rux: Five dollars at the door for
San Francisco’s largest slumber party.
Skid: It’s a sleep-in, everybody!
Rux: Drug and slumber! Drug and slumber!
(Laughter) Stop, drop, and slumber.
Skid: “Candyman” must be very similar
to the sandman…
Rux: I don’t really know what the
whole “candyman” thing was. But I do know about the spoonman.
Skid: That’s Seattle.
Rux: You say Seattle, I say Seetle.
Skid: You say Be-at-le, I sat Beetle.
The organ was the only interesting thing in this song.
Rux: You like the organ, huh? At the
Skid: Yeah. It started to seep through.
Like the Lysergic Acid.
Rux: There is some very nice instrumentation…
Okay, here is “Ripple.” This is a great song. As done by Jane’s
Rux: Don’t start that again.
Skid: Look, the Grateful Dead is not
interesting, but at least they don’t sound like Gonzo.
Rux: Oh, really? I wouldn’t go that
Skid: You think they do sound like
Rux: On occasion.
(Sings in bad Gonzo voice) “With the cone of sunshine… why
are there so many songs about rainbows.” (Laughter) I’d say yeah. More Kermit than Gonzo…
Rux: (sings) “Would you hold me close,
as if it were your own. It’s a hand me down…” Hey… watch me
punch the dog in the head! No animals were harmed in the filming
of this episode. It’s this thing we have… I punch him in the
head and he likes it.
Skid: This is a pretty song.
Rux: Yeah, I dig this song… a little
mandolin solo for you?
Skid: Hmm. Is this like a campfire
song to you, or… some of it sounds like it was stolen from
Rux: Yeah, it’s kind of got that vibe
to it… the traveling show vibe.
Skid: It also sounds like a hymn…
“There is a valley”.
Rux: Yeah, some of the lyric. “There
is a road…”
Skid & Rux: (sing in unison) “No
simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night…”
Rux: Its very poetic lyrics. They
probably don’t mean anything, but they are very poetic.
Skid: I thought the whole song was
about Ripple wine.
Rux: Was about what? Ripple wine?
Skid: Yeah. You know?
Skid: Like it was some hobo song,
Rux: Oh… drinking ripple… with a silver
spoon, and drinking that green Bubble-up. See, if they had
just done this one song, and then left off, I would have been
fine with the Grateful Dead. But they went on to do all this
stuff that I don’t care at all about.
Skid: You know, when bands like the
Grass Roots and the Lovin’ Spoonful put out
good song after good song… how can you justify following this
Rux: For 20 years…
Skid: I mean, you can only get so
much sleep at concerts, before you have to get up and buy
a sprout sandwich.
Rux: Right… and that was only recent.
I doubt that that was going on back in the day. There was
no time for sprout sandwiches in the 60’s and 70’s. You only
had time for LSD and such…
Skid: Sprout sammiches? Why when I
was a Dead Head, we didn’t have sprout sandwiches.
Rux: We just took our acid and saw
people sprout sandwiches.
Skid: I’m sprouting a sammich! Oh
boy, I gotta go sprout a sandwich.
Rux: Pardon me, I sprouted a little
Skid: We had to graze in the grass,
if you know what I mean. I mean, can you dig it? We had to
eat carrots, mushrooms…
Rux: Lots of mushrooms.
Skid: You know, some of the tunes
start to sound like barhouse blues. But…
Rux: This one to me sounds very gospel.
Skid: Right, but if they played any
bars, they would have had a bottle in their head.
Rux: Right, because what drunk biker
is going to put up with this in their roadhouse?
Skid: I don’t know, and that’s the
thing, a lot of the bikers like them.
Rux: True. What’s wrong with them.
I can understand the bikers liking the Stones… I can
understand people liking the 'Stones.
Skid: Yeah. Altamont. Altamont.
Rux: Altamont, baby. I can understand
bikers beating the crap out of people because of the Stones.
Skid: But these days, the bikers like
Yanni. I don’t understand it.
Skid: Brother, I went to these parties
with these bikers, and every time they would put on Yanni.
Rux: Nuh uh.
Rux: I’m saddened and disillusioned.
-Till The Morning Comes-
Skid: And they’re like getting all
weepy and asking me if I can get them tickets to see Les
Miserables, you know… And I’m like, what the hell?
Rux: Did you put your hand on their
face and push them away. And say to them, you’re no biker.
Skid: Pansy ass.
Rux: So you’ve decided to be a pansy
Skid: But try to drive a Suzuki and
see what happens… these people.
Rux: So you have to ride a hog, but
you can listen to Yanni? Now that is a serious triple-standard.
Skid: Triple standard?
Skid & Rux: I did.
Rux: This is very gospelly to me.
Skid: Yes, the last 2… but the last
one was Pentecostal, and this one is more Baptist.
Rux: Right… I think we’ve figured
it out. The devil couldn’t get his hand on the Staple Singers,
so he went for Jerry Garcia. I guess Pops was a little more
Skid: Oh yeah… you’ll see a lot of
posters where the Dead played with John Lee, and Muddy
Rux: That’s true.
Skid: So, if nothing else, they brought
about another blues revival. Although their music is obviously
Rux: Yeah. I don’t get much blues
out of this at all.
Skid: It’s very light.
Rux: So the next hippy that tells
me they’re a blues band, I’m kicking the shit out of them.
Skid: Well, I get more blues out of
it than psychedelia, though.
Rux: The only blues thing about this
band is the blue bear.
Skid: The Church is more psychedelic
Rux: Oh yeah. This is just kind of
a happy little pop song. Don’t touch. Don’t touch me. Yeah,
see, we should have done this review right, and taken a little
bit of LS…D.
Skid: You didn’t?
Rux: Dang it. I knew I was missing
something. (Laughter) I’ll just hold my breath for 5 minutes,
and maybe the oxygen deprivation will simulate the drugs…
Skid: Ummm. I think
the effect is a little more permanent that way.
Rux: So, so far I think there has
been this song, and that other one, that I said sounded like
the Grateful Dead to me. So obviously they had an idea of
where they were going to go. Because this one kind of sounds
like later Grateful Dead. Like what they started doing after
Skid: Oh yeah?
Rux: “Touch Of Gray.” That’s the name
of the song. (Sings) “Jerry of the nine fingers!” It was because
of the Mord Wraiths, dude.
Skid: Mord Wraiths?
Rux: The ring wraiths. And Golem.
Skid: Ring wraiths? Golem?
Rux: Took Jerry’s finger off.
Skid: Oh… oh, yeah. That’s heavy.
Here’s my take. I think their contribution to music is about
as significant as that of… Oasis. And I think a bunch
of people have been schtupped into thinking they were the
greatest thing ever. And actually, they were merely adequate.
Rux: Yes. Early 70’s harmonies. Fades
out… Lots of fade-outs here.
Skid: Well, you know… that technology.
They were on the cutting edge.
-Attics Of My Life-
Rux: A little swimmy bass.
Skid: That was kind of a weird ass
Rux: This is total Stills,
man. CSN and Grateful Dead.
Skid: Is this their altar call… to
the devil. Ooh. That was a bad harmony there. Somebody hit
a clinker. They sprouted a sammich. (Laughter)
This sounds like more church music… Not THE Church,
since I made a reference to THE Church, but…
Rux: Right. A church.
Skid: A church. I think they are up
there dressed like altar boys.
Rux: Youth Choir. They’re the Grateful
Dead Youth Choir?
Rux: Every downbeat in this song,
my eyes get a little closer to being completely closed.
Skid: Ugh. It’s completely uninteresting.
Rux: Why? Why must they do this to
us? Maybe Yanni is the extension of the Grateful Dead?
Skid: I’d buy that… I’m getting a
little yawny right now.
Rux: It’s contagious. Even in my top
ten list of 1970, this would not have been in it.
Skid: I can’t imagine going back to
see them a second time, let alone over and over again. I mean,
if their harmonies are this off in the studio… I can only
Rux: I wonder if they continued that
into the later days, or if they just let Jerry of the Nine
Skid: The harmonies? What happened
on “Touch of Gray?” He was the only one singing on that?
Rux: I think so. There may have been
some doubling, but I don’t think there were actual harmonies.
Skid: Well, it’s the same thing with
Crosby Stills and Nash. I didn’t see their show, which
I heard from others was good. But I saw some footage, and
it was so awful. They were way off.
Rux: Yeah, I never did see them live.
And on that note, I will beat the crap out of the next person
who tells me they like Crosby Stills and Nash better
than Young. I’ve had about enough of that… attitude.
That’s the kind of attitude that starts world wars, right
Skid: Well, with as off as they are
getting, they’re getting worse with each go ‘round of this
song. And then add to that the cacophony of the drug addled
audience chiming in. That’s got to be one hell of a racket.
Rux: It’s got to make you want to
Rux: They’re mostly… in tune.
Skid: Well, it’s the beginning of
Rux: Now, you hate this song, don’t
Rux: Because of this part that I like,
Skid: Yeah, I hate this part.
Rux: I think it’s funny when he talks
fast… ish. Well, I’ve got this thing about the fast-talking.
Skid: Yeah. You’ll always fall for
a fast talker, won’t you?
Rux: Yep. I’m kooky like that. I’m
nutty; I’m crazy like that. The little organ thing behind
Skid: It is nice where they’re not
singing harmonies. I’ll give you that. Do you think he just
finally said, why don’t you guys shut up during this part?
Rux: Maybe… It sounds like a different
vocalist to me. This does have some nice guitar work in this
song, though. With the twangy baritone.
Skid: Listen to the clicky bass tone.
Rux: I think Phil Lesh, the bass player,
was probably the best musician in this band. The Beatles
were more psychedelic than this.
Skid: That’s true. And the Beatles
were more experimental than this. Not necessarily the
drugs, but the sounds.
Rux: Yeah… long before this, even.
It’s a Beautiful Day was more psychedelic than this.
Skid: It’s a beautiful day?
Rux: Yes it is… 2 a.m. They were another
San Francisco psychedelic band… to clarify. It was them and
Skid: I’m thankful that not a lot
of their music got played on the radio. I feel the same way
about Pearl Jam. At least I don’t have to be subjected
to a lot of it.
Rux: But again, it’s like the regular
mode of operation for radio. Anymore, you hear the crap-ass
Grateful Dead. You don’t hear any of the good stuff… Any of
the 2 good songs.
Skid: Well, according to this, if
the 2 good songs they played on the radio, everyone would
(Laughter) At their office, and on the road…
Rux: This song has the “Sweet Jane”
reference. There are a few of those in the history of the
world. Jane seems to be a very rock’n’roll name.
Skid: She says she’s going to kick
tomorrow… Which, by the way, it’s time for the “Great American
Smoke-out.” I’d better go have my last cigarette.
Rux: Well, that was also the end of
the Grateful Dead record.
Skid: Oh thank God it ended… it was
a pretty short record.
Rux: Yeah. Bonus. Closing comments?
Skid: Uhh. It was pretty boring. It
wasn’t real painful, but not a lot there.
Rux: All right. My opinion of the
Grateful Dead remains unchanged by listening to a full record.
I agree that it is certainly not painful, but had I not known
that I really liked that one song previously, I would probably
not have liked it by listening to this album this one time.
Skid: American Beauty, huh?
Beauty, eh? So is that a tribute to spaghetti? American Beauty.
Rux: I don’t know. That mandolin thing
in that one song was definitely a tribute to spaghetti.
Skid: Was it?
Skid: Where is the Kevin Spacey part
of this album?
Rux: I saw that movie a couple nights
ago, and I liked it. I was not expecting to with all the hype,
but it was very fulfilling.
Skid: I heard it won some Oscars or
Rux: Which is more than the Grateful
Dead ever did.
Skid: So this is their best album?
Rux: I would have to say, probably.
It’s probably the shortest, also, which contributes to it
being their best. I would say anything past this is not good…
Skid: Yeah, but dude… You should hear
the Stanford show from 1978… See, that part… oh, did you hear
it? He did that different.
Times Rux gets the last word: 0
In 2 weeks! Pearl Jam “Ten”