The legend of Jerry Garcia continues to grow with the passing of time. As more recordings are unearthed and issued remastered, it becomes more apparent than ever that the man was a guitar genius. Personally, I had not delved too far into the Grateful Dead (although I saw them live while I was living in California) catalog or Garcia’s solo work. Now that I have had the opportunity to hear Garcia Plays Dylan and The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary it comes as no surprise to me that Jerry has a new fan onboard.
Garcia Plays Dylan is a superb representation of some of the best tracks from the Dylan catalog. What makes this entire set so enjoyable is the improvisation that you could always count on at live Dead or Garcia show. It does not take long before you forget that what you are hearing is Dylan songs. Jerry was masterful at taking anyone’s music and making it his own. He offered a veritable smorgasbord of blues, rock, bluegrass, and jazz all rolled into one big musical platter of tasty delights. The remastering of the original tapes taken from live shows is superb. The sound is outstanding, Garcia’s guitar, while never wavering, sounds crisp and biting, and the rest of the instruments are equally amazing.
"Tangled Up In Blue" was the standout track for my ears, the jamming that goes on is out of this world, and the backup singers do a fine job giving it a more of soulful sound than the original. I have to hand it to one of my favorite all time labels, Rhino, they consistently deliver the goods, and it does not seem to matter what artist they are covering. The sound quality, artwork, and liner notes are always first class.
If you think you would enjoy this set then I have another one for you, The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary. It is an incredible live two CD set as well, that features the rock fusion of Garcia and his band at the height of their powers. Both of these sets are worthwhile purchases and surely, you will enjoy them for years to come, after all, there is always something new to discover while listening, no matter how many times you have heard it.
The reason that you are seeing so many releases come pouring out is that Garcia lived to play and played to live, period. And we all thank him for that. I am glad the live recordings where done so freely over the years, and it is because the bands associated with Garcia were cool about it. I do not expect the flow of live material to stop, considering all the shows that the Dead and Jerry played before he died. I am sure when Dylan heard this he was quite pleased.