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.
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
Ned Lagin: synthesizers on “Unbroken Chain”
John McFee: pedal steel guitar on “Pride of Cucamonga”
- “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”
- ” China Doll”: Another great song with some good vocals from Garcia.
- “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.
- “Loose Lucy”: I love the guitars and backing vocals for this one.
- “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.
- “Pride of Cucamonga “: This is my second favorite song. McFee’s steel guitar is a great feature.
- ” Money Money”: Some great vocals from Weir.
- “Ship of Fools” : A great closing song.
Final Verdict: This is an excellent album and I’m glad I listened to it twice.