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Grateful Dead Workingman’s Dead

Album Info


Catalog #WS 1869

LabelRhino Records

2011 Rhino Records PRESSING
  • Catalog Number WS 1869
  • Release Year 2011
  • Vinyl Mastering Engineer Chris Bellman
  • Pressing Weight 180g
  • Jacket Style Single
  • 100% Analog Mastering Yes
Dennis Davis

Review By

Dennis Davis

When listening to this album I think of this band or music:

Louisiana Red’s “The Lowdown Back Porch Blues.” As the liner notes say, he “has a bag full of stories and a lot of tunes in his guitar.”

I would listen to this album while:

Flipping through the R. Crumb: Complete Record Cover Collection book.

Music from this album would be a great soundtrack to this movie:

Heaven’s Gate—the epic Western, not the suicide cult—especially the scenes with the fabulous Isabelle Huppert as a bordello madam who accepts cattle in trade.

Flash back to 1970. Things are crumbling all around. Small-scale music heads out of favor for stadium rock and tuneful word craft is trading in for metal. The Summer of Love, a foundation of the Grateful Dead vibe, seems a distant memory. And the Dead are broke and in need of a fix. Workingman’s Dead became a brilliant solution to this dilemma. Exchanging its hallmark improvisatory ways for a tightly organized program of roots- and country-infused rock music, the band created the first of its two back-to back masterpieces laden with tight songwriting and vocal harmonies.

The original recording, as with many Warner Bros. recordings of the era, sounds quite excellent. The Rhino reissue, however, mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, adds dynamic snap and a sense of palpability you don’t miss until you experience it. A 45RPM 2LP set from Mobile Fidelity is also available at double the cost of the Rhino version. In addition to gatefold packaging, it ekes out just a little bit more of the aforementioned qualities that distinguish the Rhino reissue over the original.