Jerry Garcia released his first solo album, Garcia on January 20, 1972, a few months before his Grateful Dead (see my playlist here) bandmates, Bob Weir (Ace) and Mickey Hart (Rolling Thunder) did the same. The three solo LPs provided some needed relief for Dead fans, who endured a three year gap in studio material by the Dead between American Beauty (1970) and Wake Of The Flood (1973).
Garcia is a delightful mix of bluesy rock ‘n roll (“Sugaree”), upbeat country-rock (“Deal”), off-tempo country-rock (“Loser”), full-textured folk (“Bird Song” and “To Lay Me Down”) and late-period psychedelia cum peddle steel twang (“The Wheel”). These six tracks, all co-written by long-time Garcia collaborator and Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, would quickly become staples in the Dead’s legendary on-stage set lists. Garcia is also a testimony to the breadth and depth of his musical prowess and a nearly pure solo effort. He sang vocals and played all of the stringed instruments and keyboards. Dead-partner Billy Kreutzman, who’s credited with co-producing the album and co-writing four of the 10 tracks thereon, handled the percussion. Otherwise, Garcia is all Jerry.
As I said in a previous post, I am not a tie-dyed-in-the-wool Deadhead, but am more than a just a casual Dead fan. For me, Garcia is a standout among the dozens of albums in Garcia’s long list of solo works, his various collaborative efforts, and releases as leader of the Jerry Garcia Band and de facto leader of the Grateful Dead. Incidentally, Jerry is ranked #13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. And Garcia can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).