W2 1893 American Beauty
Produced by the Grateful Dead
Released on November 1970
US CHART POSITION #30
Find it at GEMM
W2 1893 cover  

T he sticky fingers of the Grateful Dead, if you will. American Beauty is a brighter entry than Workingman’s Dead, though both espouse optimism in the face of life. This philosophy is summed up in songs like “Ripple,” “Truckin” and “Friend of the Devil,” tracks which not coincidentally define the Dead to this day. Like the Stones’ Sticky Fingers, American Beauty functions as a sort of greatest hits album, so strong is the songwriting. When the time comes to tally up the Dead’s best music, “Box of Rain” and “Sugar Magnolia” will surely be there, while even the elegiac “Attics of My Life” and the bitter “Candyman” will receive consideration. The sweet melodies are drawn from Jerry Garcia, the epigrammatic philosophy lessons from Robert Hunter, and the lively interplay from the whole band. Guests pepper the proceedings, notably Howard Wales and Ned Lagin, who fill some of the void left by the loss of Tom Constanten. Part of Beauty’s appeal is its saturated sound, which may be the result of Stephen Barncard’s participation (it would explain why the Dead didn’t repeat the feat). A certain stillness in the studio reveals how tightly the harmonies clicked (as on “Attics of My Life”) and how intricately the guitars wove around one another. The band has never released another album like this: weightless in its wisdom, substantial in its songcraft, at one with the light and dark elements of life. If American Beauty doesn’t make a fan out of you, you’re dead.

TRACK LISTING

  1. BOX OF RAIN    (Robert Hunter/Phil Lesh)    5:16
  2. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia/John Dawson)    3:20
  3. SUGAR MAGNOLIA    (Robert Hunter/Bob Weir)    3:15
  4. OPERATOR    (Ron McKernan)    2:21
  5. CANDYMAN    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)    5:12
  6. RIPPLE    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)    4:10
  7. BROKEDOWN PALACE    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)    4:18
  8. TILL THE MORNING COMES    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)    3:13
  9. ATTICS OF MY LIFE    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)    5:09
  10. TRUCKIN    (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia/Phil Lesh/Bob Weir)    5:09

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  11. TRUCKIN' (SINGLE VERSION)
  12. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL (LIVE)
  13. CANDYMAN (LIVE)
  14. TILL THE MORNING COMES (LIVE)
  15. ATTICS OF MY LIFE (LIVE)
  16. TRUCKIN' (LIVE)
  17. (hidden track) RIPPLE (ALTERNATE VERSION)
  18. (hidden track) AMERICAN BEAUTY RADIO SPOT

CREDITS

JERRY GARCIA -- guitar, pedal steel, piano, vocals
MICKEY HART -- percussion
ROBERT HUNTER -- songwriter
BILL KREUTZMANN -- drums
PHIL LESH -- bass, guitar, piano, vocals
PIG PEN (RON McKERNAN) -- harmonica, vocals
BOB WEIR -- guitar, vocals
David Grisman -- mandolin (2,6)
Ned Lagin -- piano (5)
Dave Nelson -- electric guitar (1)
Dave Torbert -- bass (1)
Howard Wales -- organ, piano
Steve Barncard -- audio co-producer
Kelly/Mouse Studios -- artwork
George Conger -- rear photo

return to THE GRATEFUL DEAD discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US November 1970 Warner Bros. LP WS 1893 olive-green label
UK 1971 Warner Bros. LP K46074  
US July 1971 Warner Bros. LP 1893  
US 1978 Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-014 original master recording
US 1979 Warner Bros. LP WS 1893  
US 1987 Warner Bros. CD/CS W2 1893  
  1980s Warner Bros. CS 23706 repackaged w. WORKINGMAN'S DEAD
UK/GER 1989 Warner Bros. CD 27190  
US/GER February 25, 2003 Rhino CD 74397 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN   Rhino CD WPCR-1196 HDCD remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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