Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part X: Shakedown Street (1978)

Shakedown Street was released a year after Terrapin Station. It was the last album to feature Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna Jean, as both left the band after its release. It was produced by Lowell George of Little Feat.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: lead guitars, vocals

Bob Weir: guitar, vocals

Phil Lesh: bass

Keith Godchaux: keyboards, vocals

Mickey Hart: drums, percussion

Bill Kreutzmann: drums, percussion

Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals

The Tracks:

  1. “Good Lovin'”: I feel like the Dead were thinking “Do we have to cover this song?” This is a bad cover. Not a good start.
  2. “France”: Bob and Donna Jean’s vocals are great together. This is one of the best songs on the album.
  3. ” Shakedown Street”: This song was first performed live three months before the album was recorded. The song deals with inner city decay. The song’s title would later refer to the vending area outside Grateful Dead concerts. It’s a great song.
  4. “Serengeti” : A short percussion track showing off Kreutzmann’s talents.
  5. “Fire on the Mountain”: This is my favorite song on the album. It was often paired with “Scarlet Begonias” when played live. It was included as downloadable content for Rock Band. The song has been covered by Keller Williams and Daniel Donato.
  6. “I Need a Miracle “: Another banger to start side 2. Bob sounds great on this one.
  7. ” From the Heart of Me “: Donna Jean sounds beautiful on this one.
  8. ” Stagger Lee”: Garcia sings lead on this excellentrendition of the folk ballad about the murderer Stag Lee Shelton and his killing of Billy Lyons. The song was first recorded in 1923 by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. It’s also been by Ike and Tina Turner, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Wilson Pickett, and even Pat Boone.
  9. “All New Minglewood Blues”: A great cover with some great vocals from Bob.
  10. “If I Had the World to Give”: Jerry Garcia sings lead on this great closer.

Final Verdict: The album has a weak start, but makes up for it as you go, especially in the second half. I enjoyed it!

Grade: B+

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part IX: Terrapin Station (1977)

Terrapin Station was the first Grateful Dead album released on Arista Records, after a two-year hiatus. It reached #28 on the Album Charts, and received Gold in 1987. Clive Davis had been interested in signing them after having acquired their colleagues, the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: guitar, vocals

Bob Weir: guitar, vocals

Phil Lesh: bass

Keith Godchaux: keyboards, piano, synthesizers, vocals

Mickey Hart: drums

Bill Kreutzmann: drums

Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals

Additional Musicians:

Paul Buckmaster: orchestral arrangements

The English Choral

The Martyn Ford Orchestra

Tom Scott: lyricon, saxophone on “Estimated Prophet”

The Tracks:

  1. “Estimated Prophet”: Great way to start the album! I like the unique time signature, 7/4 with a half-time. One of my favorite songs on the album. Love the saxophone on this.
  2. ” Dancing in the Streets “: I’m sorry, but you can’t touch the original version of this song. It’s slightly better than that abomination that David Bowie and Mick Jagger recorded, though. I can’t say it’s terrible, but I didn’t like it.
  3. ” Passenger”: Weir and Donna Jean sound great together. It’s got a great bass line.
  4. “Samson and Delilah “: Bob Weir does a great job on this arrangement.
  5. ” Sunrise “: Donna Jean sounds angelic on this one! Beautiful song!
  6. “Terrapin Medley”: The only song where Garcia sings lead on the album. This 7-part suite is excellent, and the album’s best feature! I love long songs like this one, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Final Verdict: This is a great album, for sure, with some great standout performances. I won’t call it a masterpiece, but I certainly enjoyed it!

Grade: B+

The Book of Boba Fett: In the Name of Honor

Writer: Jon Favreau

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Summary: Boba Fett, Din, Krrsantan Shand, and the Mods hold off the Pyke Syndicate in Freetown.

Review: I wanted to enjoy this one, I really did. The writers seemed like they were done with the detour, but…yeah this wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad either. I’m going to say this was mediocre.

This show really does feel like Favreau was playing with new toys, and then got bored and went back to his old ones. The last two episodes were not a good idea, and then this one really annoyed me.

It wasn’t the big seige, that was fine up until the end. It was Grogu. Having Grogu show up at the end ruins the second season of the Mandalorian and steals the spotlight from the true star. Having Grogu restore the status quo for Din annoyed me.

I’m not saying this has ruined Star Wars forever because that’s not true. But it was a disappointment. We’ll see if things improve when Kenobi on May 25.

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part VIII: Blues For Allah

Blues For Allah is the final album released on the Grateful Dead’s own record label. It was their highest-charting album until 1987, reaching #12. It also marked Mickey Hart’s return to the band, meaning that it’s the first album with 7 members.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: Guitars, vocals, production

Bob Weir: Guitars, vocals, production

Phil Lesh: Bass, production

Keith Godchaux: keyboards, vocals, production

Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals, production

Bill Kreutzmann: drums, percussion, production

Mickey Hart: percussion, crickets, production

Additional Musicians:

Steven Schuster: flute, reeds

The Tracks:

  1. “Help on the Way”/” Slipknot “: This is a pretty good opener, but it’s not one of the standout songs for me. The “Slipknot” interlude has a pretty melody.
  2. “Franklin’s Tower”: This song has a great rhythm, and I like the vocals. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.
  3. “King Solomon’s Marbles”: This is such a jam! It’s my favorite instrumental on the album. It has a unusual rhythm and melody to it, but it’s still awesome.
  4. ” The Music Never Stopped “: Lesh’s bass line is a treat! Another one of my favorite songs.
  5. ” Crazy Fingers” : This has music set to haikus by Robert Hunter. This is where the album starts to taper off for me. It’s fine, but I don’t enjoy it that much.
  6. “Sage and Spirit”: This one didn’t really grab me. It was nice, but I don’t know why.
  7. ” Blues For Allah”/ “Sand Castles and Glass Camels”/” Unusual Occurences in the Desert”: While I like the title track portion, the last two parts feel kind of weak.

Final Verdict: I think my biggest problem with this album is that most of the interludes don’t work for me, and there are too many of them. This is the weakest album so far for me, but I don’t hate it.

Grade: C

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part VII: From the Mars Hotel

From the Mars Hotel was the second album released on the Grateful Dead’s own record label. The cover depicts an actual San Francisco building, which was used by Jack Kerouac as a temporary residence. It was later used as a location for David Bowie’s promotional film for “The Jean Genie” . It was destroyed during the Yerba Buena redevelopment (as seen in The Grateful Dead Movie), which is now the site of the Moscone West Exhibition Hall. The working title was “Ugly Rumors” , which is retained in Aztec lettering in the artwork. Ugly Rumors was also the inspiration for the band of the same name.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: vocals, guitar, production

Bob Weir: guitar, vocals, production

Phil Lesh: bass, vocals, production

Keith Godchaux: keyboards, vocals, production

Bill Kreutzmann: drums, production

Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals, production

Additional Musicians:

Ned Lagin: synthesizers on “Unbroken Chain”

John McFee: pedal steel guitar on “Pride of Cucamonga”

The Tracks:

  1. “U.S. Blues “: This song is a toe-tapper! Keith’s keyboards are great and I love the rhythm. It was originally called “Wave That Flag”
  2. ” China Doll”: Another great song with some good vocals from Garcia.
  3. “Unbroken Chain “: For many years, there was an urban legend that if this song was performed live, the band would break up. The song was performed during their last tour before Jerry Garcia’s death. Animal Collective sampled it in “What Would I Want? Sky” on their EP Fall Be Kind, the first sample ever to be cleared for use by the Grateful Dead. Phil Lesh’s vocals are excellent.
  4. “Loose Lucy”: I love the guitars and backing vocals for this one.
  5. “Scarlet Begonias”: This song debuted live at the Cow Palace on March 23, 1974. The line  “Everybody’s playing in the Heart of Gold Band” was used by Keith and Donna to name their Heart of Gold Band when they left the band in 1979. It has been covered by Sublime and Jimmy Buffett.
  6. “Pride of Cucamonga “: This is my second favorite song. McFee’s steel guitar is a great feature.
  7. ” Money Money”: Some great vocals from Weir.
  8. “Ship of Fools” : A great closing song.

Final Verdict: This is an excellent album and I’m glad I listened to it twice.

Grade: A+

The Book of Boba Fett: From the Desert Comes a Stranger

Writer: Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni

Director: Dave Filoni

Summary: Lots of pandering to fans who were only here for Din Djarin and Grogu. Oh, and Cad Bane showed up.

Review: I’m sorry, but is this supposed to be The Mandalorian? Because it feels more like that than Book of Boba Fett.

Apparently, Favreau and Filoni have forgotten how spin-offs work. Let me explain. When Russell T. Davies entered Series 3 of Doctor Who, two spin-offs debuted, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Although the 10th and 11th Doctors did appear on Sarah Jane’s show, they were clearly treated like guest stars. They didn’t take over the show for two whole episodes and make us wonder when we’d see Sarah Jane and her kids.

And yet, here we are, 5 episodes in, and suddenly we’re in The Mandalorian Season 2.5? Boba Fett barely shows up? I’m sorry, but this isn’t a good episode, and no amount of fan service will change my opinion.

Yes, I watched Clone Wars. I’m currently on the final season, in fact. Yes, I watched The Bad Batch last year. I know who Cad Bane is!

Favreau and Filoni don’t need to pander to the impatient “fans”. They were the same fans who chased Daisy Ridley off social media because how dare Star Wars have a female lead. They were the same fans who whined because Luke Skywalker was old and cynical, like he’s not supposed to be upset because a new fascist empire is oppressing the galaxy and his star pupil went to the Dark Side. They hate change. You were already telling a good story!

If Cad Bane had actually fought Boba Fett and Fett jobbed to him, I would have been more excited. But this is frustrating. I wasn’t excited. I was impatient. I don’t want fan service and no substance!

So sorry, I have to be honest. This is getting a low grade. I expected better from you, Jon Favreau.

Grade: C-

Book of Boba Fett: Chapter 5: The Return of the Mandalorian

Writer: Jon Favreau

Director: Bryce Dallas Howard

Summary: Our story takes a slight detour to show us what Din Djarin has been up to lately. He shows the Darksaber to the Armorer, only to be challenged by Paz Vizsla, who believes that because he is a descendant of the Darksaber’s creator, Tarre Vizsla, he should be the one to weild it. Although he defeats Vizsla, he is rejected by the tribe for removing his helmet. Upon returning to Mos Eisley, Djarin once again meets Peli Motto, who gives him a new N-1 Starfighter to replace the Razor Crest. Shand appears and asks for his help.

Review: I have a major problem with this episode: Boba Fett was nowhere to be seen! This is supposed to be his series, right? I wanted to enjoy the episode, as it was actually good to see Djarin, but I was bored. With the exception of the duel, there wasn’t much action. Couldn’t they have just made this an extra episode of The Mandalorian? Why sideline the main star? Shand is the only character we see, and she doesn’t even show until towards the end! I’m sorry, but this wasn’t good.

Grade: D