Various artists: Day of the Dead

CD469 - 5 CD boxed set

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Various artists: Day of the Dead
the biggest Grateful Dead tribute album yet!

This box set - five discs, and close to five-and-a-half hours - is a huge love letter to the catalogue of The Grateful Dead, but keep reading.

In the UK, The Grateful Dead has a very niche status and even the bands influenced by them don't tour here much. In the hands of The National, however, (or more specifically Josh Kaufman, Aaron Dressner & Bryce Dressner) that stipulation turns out not to be the massive obstacle that it might first appear. Instead, the collection both in its scale and wide-ranging approach ends up providing a surprisingly coherent vision of the unique combination of Rock & Americana that The Grateful Dead represented.

If you cherry-pick from this album you can assemble a very fashionable disc of tracks performed by the likes of Courtney Barnett, Mumford & Sons, The War On Drugs, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Flaming Lips & Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry. The real strength in depth here, though, is that time & again someone you've never heard of does a song that you barely know and it's in keeping with the entire project.

Picking highlights is tough with so much on offer. Sometime Dead pianist Bruce Hornsby gives probably the best reading of "Black Muddy River" that I've heard. Bill Callahan takes a song that I've heard many times ("Easy Wind") and makes me hear the lyric as I never have before, nailing the atmosphere in a way that the original didn't. The National - amongst their several contributions - pull off a similar trick with "Peggy-O", but their crowning moment has to be full version of "Terrapin Station" that gives this set its most lavish quarter hour.

Some moments are odd or jarring, but then, that is also true of a Grateful Dead album, or often an individual Grateful Dead song. At times the original versions are better (and naturally some of the instrumentalists, especially Jerry, are missed) but the originals are, overall, probably less easy to enjoy than these reworkings. For every janky misfire (such as the hyper-lysergic "Truckin'") there's a delight such as the solo piano arrangement of "King Solomon's Marbles" by Vijay Iyer.

This is a legitimate Album of the Year contender and a superb gateway drug to the music that it honours. I fully expect to buying more from several of these artists in the near future.
(by Sordel - reviewer)

Track list:

Disc 1
Touch of Grey 05:16 by The War On Drugs
Sugaree 04:59 by Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends
Candyman 05:34 by Jim James & Friends
Dire Wolf 03:03 by The Lone Bellow & Friends
New Speedway Boogie 05:20 by Courtney Barnett
Friend of the Devil 04:31 by Mumford & Sons
Black Muddy River 07:38 by Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison
Morning Dew 05:34 by The National
Black Peter 02:25 by Anohni & yMusic
Loser 05:15 by Ed Droste, Binki Shapiro & Friends
To Lay Me Down 06:20 by Perfume Genius, Sharon Van Etten & Friends

Disc 2
Box of Rain 05:30 by Kurt Vile and the Violators (feat. J Mascis)
Reuben and Cherise 05:46 by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Friends
Me and My Uncle 03:04 by The Lone Bellow & Friends
Cassidy 03:13 by Moses Sumney, Jenny Lewis & Friends
Uncle John's Band 04:27 by Lucius
Mountains of the Moon 03:53 by Lee Ranaldo, Lisa Hannigan & Friends
Dark Star 03:57 by Cass McCombs & Joe Russo
Nightfall of Diamonds 08:27 by Nightfall of Diamonds
Transitive Refraction Axis for John Oswald 03:59 by Tim Hecker
Playing in the Band 09:46 by Tunde Adebimpe, Lee Ranaldo & Friends
Brokedown Palace 04:51 by Richard Reed Parry with Caroline Shaw & Little Scream (feat. Garth Hudson)

Disc 3
Peggy-O 05:35 by The National
Garcia Counterpoint 07:12 by Bryce Dessner
Terrapin Station (Suite) 16:50 by Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and The National (feat. Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, S' Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus)
Clementine Jam 05:00 by Orchestra Baobab
China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider 11:24 by Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
Jack-A-Roe 04:30 by This Is The Kit
Easy Wind 05:38 by Bill Callahan
Wharf Rat 10:08 by Ira Kaplan & Friends
Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad 04:04 by Lucinda Williams & Friends
And We Bid You Goodnight 02:43 by Sam Amidon

Disc 4
Ripple 04:25 by The Walkmen
Truckin' 04:55 by Marijuana Deathsquads
Dark Star 06:13 by The Flaming Lips
Stella Blue 04:39 by Local Natives
Shakedown Street 03:28 by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Franklin's Tower 06:29 by Orchestra Baobab
Eyes of the World 05:09 by Tal National
Help on the Way 07:38 by Bela Fleck
Estimated Prophet 05:17 by The Rileys
What's Become of the Baby 06:35 by s t a r g a z e
King Solomon's Marbles 04:34 by Vijay Iyer
If I Had the World to Give 02:37 by Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Disc 5
Standing on the Moon 05:33 by Phosphorescent & Friends
Ship of Fools 05:12 by The Tallest Man On Earth & Friends
Bird Song 06:09 by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Friends
Brown-Eyed Women 04:48 by Hiss Golden Messenger
Here Comes Sunshine 06:00 by Real Estate
Cumberland Blues 03:16 by Charles Bradley
Drums -> Space 04:51 by Man Forever, S' Percussion and Oneida
Cream Puff War 06:17 by Fucked Up
Rosemary 02:05 by Mina Tindle & Friends
High Time 04:16 by Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear
Till the Morning Comes 05:02 by Luluc with Xylouris White
Althea 05:02 by Winston Marshall, Kodiak Blue and Shura
Attics of My Life 04:15 by Angel Olsen
St. Stephen (live) 06:36 by Wilco with Bob Weir
I Know You Rider (live) 08:38 by The National with Bob Weir