Hear The National, War on Drugs, Jenny Lewis, and others play the Grateful Dead

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I never cottoned to the whole scene around the Dead; the whole psychedelic jam sound wasn’t for me, and within my generation the scene had become infiltrated by frat bros. But an album like The Workingman’s Dead is alright. Courtney Barnett and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are on a short list of new bands that I actually listen to, so I’d check for them.

there was a similar comp toward the end of the 80s. I forget what it was called. It was all bands I didn’t care about except Jane’s Addiction did a cover of Ripple for it. At that time, I was an incorrigible Jane’s head, so I grudgingly respected the Dead for that, at least.

listening to it just now, I’m not sure how well it holds up. Perry’s voice really doesn’t kick in until midway, at least. But the ending is nice.

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I love the Dead, and I love almost all the artists on this list.
I listened to this preview earlier today with high hopes, but it was very disappointing.

To call them “straight ahead” covers gives them too much credit, because for me they don’t convey any kind of emotional connection to the originals. A few of them play with tempo and instrumentation. In general they stick very close to the original interpretations, but in an uninspired and unconvincing way. To me it comes off as rote, and does a disservice to the Dead and each of these performers. Pains me to say it, but that’s my take after first listen.


I enjoyed The War on Drugs’ version of “Touch of Grey”, of all things. They happily embrace its mid-80s feel with enthusiasm. Or at least authenticity.

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Deadicated(1991). Personally liked the Cowboy Junkies version of To lay me down & Elvis Costello’s Ship of fools


I respect Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and a lot of other pioneering folk from the 60’s that were involved with what we later would call “culture jamming”. I still can’t fathom how The Dead could be called psychedelic. I always felt Floyd, Captain Beefheart, and others were more deserving of the title.

Deadicated. It’s worth owning (says someone who owns it!).

Your memory of time is a little off, though: it’s 1991, not the 80s.



Liked those tracks too, but I’m partial to Lyle Lovett’s version of Friend of the Devil. He’s got just the right laconic drawl for it.

unfortunately, Sublime attracted an audience of the worst kids ever, but I liked 'em anyway. I forgot until just now that they did Scarlet Begonias, and over a loop of the JBs The Funky Drummer, of all things.

the Dead’s studio stuff is decidedly not psychedelic.
I think they get the label mainly because of their correlation with psychedelic drugs.
if you’re interested to hear some of the more trippy stuff, find some of earlier extended jams - late 60s early 70s. anything 10+ minutes, or anything leading up to or coming out of “dark star”, “drums”, or “space”.

That said, the rest of the recording probably contains a mix of straight-ahead guitar rock, rock-jams, folk rock, straight up folk and country standards that you won’t hear at a Pink Floyd show. By the late 70s, the psych jams mostly disappeared, replaced with dancey disco and stadium rock.

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