The release of 1970's Workingman's Dead marked a departure from the psychedelic rock that the Grateful Dead helped define in the 1960s to a more acoustic sound. Emphasizing structured tunes over improvised jams, Workingman's Dead is loaded with powerfully imagistic songs and strong vocal harmonies that harken back to the band's folk roots. The album kicks off with "Uncle John's Band," a sweetly sung Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter composition that became an anthem during the band's 30-year career. The bouncy, country-pickin' coal-mining classic "Cumberland Blues" continues the vocal bliss, bringing forth the unique three-part singing of guitarists Garcia and Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh. Original keyboardist and bluesman Ron "Pigpen" McKernan takes command of the back-busting, down-to-earth grit of "Easy Wind," and Garcia's newfound finesse on the pedal-steel guitar sleeks and shimmers its way through the gorgeous "High Time" and the life-fearing "Dire Wolf." "Casey Jones," the fast-chugging, anticocaine anthem, which also became one of their most popular songs, serves as a perfect closer. Deemed one of the classics in their recording catalogue, Workingman's Dead successfully captures a dramatic shift of style and clearly helped establish the Dead as an essential American musical-roots ensemble.
Performance CreditsGrateful Dead Primary Artist
Mickey Hart Drums
Jerry Garcia Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar,Vocals
Bob Weir Guitar,Vocals
Tom Constanten Keyboards
Bill Kreutzmann Drums
Phil Lesh Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Harmonica,Keyboards,Background Vocals
David Nelson Acoustic Guitar
Technical CreditsJerry Garcia Composer
Grateful Dead Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Bob Weir Composer
Robert Hunter Composer,Lyricist
James Austin Reissue Producer
Phil Lesh Composer
Bob Matthews Producer,Audio Production
Gary Peterson Liner Note Coordination
Betty Cantor Producer,Audio Production
Steve Silberman Liner Notes
David Singer Poster Design
Daniel Goldmark Editorial Research
David Lemieux Reissue Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Workingman's Dead based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This record is one of the masterpieces of contemporary music. The band apparently drew on traditional American music (bluegrass, hillbilly etc), but combined these influences with a very sophisticated blending of jazz (especially the bass) and rock (especially the drums). The lyrics established Robert Hunter as a wonderful poet, on a par with Bob Dylan. Like most Dead records, the songs examine in a penetrating way the disappointments of life. Yet the songs also provide a powerful message of joy and hope.
I love Grateful Dead and this is a great album. They were a talented band with great lyrics.