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Catchgroove Hall Of Fame: Jerry Garcia Band – Jerry Garcia Band

June 17, 2021

I am not sure why I bought this album shortly after it was released August 27, 1991. I was not a Grateful Dead fan and I certainly wasn’t a Garcia fan. I did own the Dead’s In the Dark album, but that was a pretty popular album at the time – “Touch of Grey” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, the band’s only top forty single – the song was in regular rotation on MTV! But I did buy the Jerry Garcia Band album and I have loved it. I have never tired of it in thirty years.

What hooked me first was the covers: Dylan, Motown, Beatles, Peter Tosh, Bruce Cockburn, Allen Toussaint, etc. They sounded so good – all original interpretations. There was a subtle soulfulness to the arrangements.

Once hooked with the interpretations and arrangements, Jerry’s guitar reeled me in. I love the marimba tone in Jerry’s electric guitar. It is almost a percussion instrument. When Jerry takes a lead it is wonderfully meandering. The leads are slow burning quite storms.

Jerry sings quietly – it is easy to miss how much complexity is there. He has a rich palate and he uses it brilliantly.

Finally, the band on this album is fantastic. The backup vocals harmonize with Garcia’s voice perfectly. Melvin Seals keyboards are always complementing Garcia’s guitar. John Kahn’s bass and David Kemper’s drums provide a rock solid rhythm section. The group borders on jazz rock fusion. This album sent me down the Garcia rabbit hole – I now own a couple dozen Garcia albums and started to scratch the surface of the Dead. Highly recommend gateway drug to Garcia and the Dead universe. This is my number one pick for Record Store Day 2021 Drop Two (first release on vinyl).

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