C 30888 New Riders of the Purple Sage
Produced by New Riders of the Purple Sage
Released on 1971
Find it at GEMM
C 30888 cover
[high resolution photo]

T here are names, monuments to the Dead, which form a small army around the legacy of that band like statues of Chinese warriors. Inevitably, Deadheads stray from the main tomb to study the faces of these, solo albums that represent the progeny of an immortal on holiday or, sometimes, mortals that had received the blessed benediction themselves. It was the latter circumstance that led to New Riders of the Purple Sage. The three riders (John Dawson, David Nelson, Dave Torbert) had joined the Dead on some of their greatest adventures: Aoxomoxoa, Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty. When the trio decided to set out on their own, they took the spirit of that music with them (minus the mysticism) and combined it with a countrified everyman outlook. The result was something like a younger brother to the Dead’s masterworks: uncomplicated, innocent, even naďve. Their songs of love go straight to the heart of the matter, their stories are what they are rather than allegories. The music is likewise simpler than its source of inspiration (Dead, Dylan, Buffalo Springfield), but otherwise not much off the mark. For what it’s worth, “Garden of Eden” roams with the Buffalo’s big hit, “Last Lonely Eagle” is a lovely Dead/Dylan hybrid, “Whatcha Gonna Do” earns St. Stephen’s blessing, and “Henry” rides right alongside Casey Jones. Outside of some feedback experimentation on “Dirty Business” (one of two tracks to feature both Mickey Hart and Commander Cody), this is a smooth ride from sun-up to sundown. If you enjoyed the country/folk of American Beauty or Nashville Skyline, you’ll find plenty to admire among the purple sage. Again, it’s not as clever as all that, but the reassuringly familiar melodies and warm harmonies mean that Dead fans can jump right into this without testing the water first. As an added incentive, Jerry Garcia (who appears throughout) contributes some nice pedal steel parts to “Portland Woman” and “Last Lonely Eagle.” Among the auxiliary Dead albums I own to date, this is far and away the best.

C 30888 back cover
C 30888 back cover


  1. I DON'T KNOW YOU    2:24
  2. WHATCHA GONNA DO    3:14
  3. PORTLAND WOMAN    3:33
  4. HENRY    2:34
  5. DIRTY BUSINESS    7:55
  6. GLENDALE TRAIN    2:58
  7. GARDEN OF EDEN    4:31
  8. ALL I EVER WANTED    4:30
  9. LAST LONELY EAGLE    5:10
  10. LOUISIANA LADY    3:00

    CD reissue bonus tracks

    Words and music by John Dawson. Arranged by New Riders of the Purple Sage.


JOHN DAWSON (MARMADUKE) -- acoustic guitar, vocals
DAVID NELSON -- vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin
DAVE TORBERT -- bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
SPENCER DRYDEN -- drums and percussion
JERRY GARCIA -- pedal steel guitar, banjo
Commander Cody -- piano
Mickey Hart -- drums and percussion
Steve Barncard -- executive producer, engineer
Phil Lesh -- executive producer
Ellen Burke -- technician
Michael Ferguson and Kelley -- cover art
Dryden/Parrish -- back cover photo

return to NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE discography

US/CAN 1971 Columbia LP C 30888  
UK 1971 CBS LP/8T S/42-64657  
AUS'L 1971 CBS LP SBP234012  
US 1979 Columbia LP PC 30888  
US May 21, 2002 Bang On CD 551 repackaged w. POWERGLIDE
US March 4, 2003 Columbia/Legacy CDX CK 85388 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN   Sony CDX MHCP-2036 digital remaster w. bonus tracks


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