Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Epilogue: Ready or Not (2019)

(Note: Because this is a live compilation album rather than a studio album, I’m calling this an epilogue)

In 1992, Grateful Dead began work on a new album that was never completed. There were two reasons: first was the fact that the Dead never felt at home in the studio. (Garcia considered the studio a “necessary evil”) Both the band and their legions of Deadheads agreed that they sounded better on the road than in the confines of a studio. The second was Garcia’s death in 1995. Yet, in 2019, the remaining members of the band compiled performances of the songs that would’ve been included on the album, and Ready or Not was the result. It features Vince Welnick, who became a touring keyboardist with Grateful Dead following the death of Brent Mydland. (He was previously a member of The Tubes and also recorded with Todd Rundgren)

Members:

Jerry Garcia: vocals, guitar

Bob Weir: vocals, guitar

Phil Lesh: bass, vocals

Vince Welnick: keyboards, vocals

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann: drums, percussion

The Tracks:

  1. “Liberty” (recorded at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York) on 10/14/1994): Phil Lesh has a great bass line, and the drumming is great. Some beautiful harmonies on the vocals. One of my favorites from the album
  2. “Eternity” (recorded at the Memphis Pyramid on 4/14/1995): Some great vocals and guitar from Weir, with some good keyboards.
  3. “Lazy River Road ” (recorded at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on 3/25/1993) One of my favorites from the album. Some good rhythm and harmonies.
  4. “Samba in the Rain” (recorded at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia on 3/30/1995 ) : Excellent keyboard work from Welnick.
  5. “So Many Roads” (recorded at the Star Lake Ampitheatre in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania on 6/23/1992) This is the earliest recording on the album. Garcia sounds great on the vocals.
  6. “Way to Go Home” (recorded at the Deer Creek Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana on 6/28/1992) Welnick’s keyboards are great here, with some good rhythm and bass.
  7. “Corrina” (recorded at Madison Square Garden on 10/14/1994) This is such a jam! The Dead were known for their long jams, and this doesn’t disappoint. Best song on the album!
  8. “Easy Answers” (recorded at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 9/13/1993) Great harmonies from everyone.
  9. “Days Between” ( recorded at Oakland Arena in Oakland, California on 12/11/1994) Another great jam. I love Garcia’s starting vocals.

Final Verdict: The Grateful Dead’s live shows have been legendary for a reason. They never did the same show twice. This collection shows that they were at their best on the road. A great compilation!

Grade: A-

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part XIII: Built to Last (1989)

Built to Last was Grateful Dead’s last solo album, however, the band continued to tour until Jerry Garcia’s death on August 9, 1995. They would then rebrand themselves in 2015 as Dead & Company, as they continue to this day. This album contains the most songs by Brent Mydland, all in collaboration with John Perry Barlow. (Robert Hunter wrote the rest)

Members:

Jerry Garcia: vocals, guitar

Bob Weir: vocals, guitar

Phil Lesh: bass

Brent Mydland: vocals, keyboards

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann: drums and percussion

The Tracks:

  1. “Foolish Heart”: This song’s pretty decent. I like Jerry’s vocals and the keyboards.
  2. “Just a Little Light”: Of the four songs featuring Mydland on lead vocals, this one is the one I like the most.
  3. “Built to Last”: Another pretty good song for Garcia. Probably one of my favorite songs from the album.
  4. “Blow Away” : This song’s all right, but it’s not aged well.
  5. “Victim or the Crime”: Of all the songs on this album, this one feels the most of its time. It’s longer than it should be.
  6. ” We Can Run “: Another song that I feel hasn’t aged well, but it’s not bad.
  7. ” Standing on the Moon”: This is one of the best songs. The rhythm and bass are great.
  8. “Picasso Moon”: Of the two songs featuring Bob Weir on lead vocals, this is my favorite.
  9. “I Will Take Yu Home” : I’m not a fan of this one, it’s kinda boring.

Final Verdict: This wasn’t a good album to go out on. It wasn’t bad, but it felt very manufactured, like there was little energy.

Grade: C

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead Part XII: In the Dark (1987)

In the Dark is Grateful Dead’s penultimate album. It is one of the few albums to actually have singles. It reached #6 on the Billboard Albums Chart. Four singles were released: “Touch of Grey”, “Hell in a Bucket” , “West L.A. Fadeaway”, and “Throwing Stones” . The album was certified Double Platinum in 1995.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: vocals, guitar

Bob Weir: vocals, guitar

Phil Lesh: bass

Brent Mydland: vocals, keyboards

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann: drums, percussion

  1. “Touch of Grey”: If you’re someone who’s listened to Classic Rock radio, this is one of the few songs that actually gets radio airplay ( I’ve also heard “Truckin'” on some stations). It’s the only song to ever reach the top 40 on the Hot 100 chart, going all the way to #1, and even receiving airplay on MTV (ah, those were the days). Is it wrong to like this song? I hope not. I will say that song is definitely of its time. Despite that, yes, I like this song.
  2. “Hell in a Bucket”: One of my favorite songs from the album. The lyrics are great, and I love Weir’s vocals.
  3. ” When Push Comes to Shove “: Garcia has some good vocals, and I like the keyboards.
  4. ” West L.A. Fadeaway: This one’s great too. The rhythm is solid, and it’s one of the best songs on the album.
  5. “Tons of Steel”: Brent’s keyboards and vocals are good here. I don’t like Brent as much as I liked Keith, but he’s still pretty good.
  6. “Throwing Stones”: I love Bob Weir’s vocals here. One of my favorites.
  7. “Black Muddy River”: Not a bad song to end on.

Final Verdict: This album is pretty good, but it’s not one I like as much as the others.

Grade: B-

Ranking the Discography: Grateful Dead: Go to Heaven (1980)

Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna Jean both left Grateful Dead in 1979, and were replaced by Brent Mydland, who had played in a country rock band called Silver, on their hit single “Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang”. He would become their longest -running keyboardist, playing until his death in 1990. The album was produced by Gary Lyons.

Members:

Jerry Garcia: vocals, guitar

Bob Weir: guitar, vocals

Phil Lesh: bass

Brent Mydland: keyboards, vocals

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann: drums

The Tracks:

  1. “Alabama Getaway”: What a great opener! The guitars and vocals are top-notch. One of my favorite songs on the album.
  2. “Far From Home”: One of two songs featuring Brent Mydland on vocals. He’s often been compared to Michael McDonald, and I can hear the comparison. I don’t mind the similarities, as I happen to like McDonald. The keyboards sound great.
  3. ” Althea” : Garcia sounds pretty good on the vocals.
  4. “Feel Like a Stranger “: Weir’s vocals are excellent. Another one of my favorite songs.
  5. ” Lost Sailor”: More great vocals from Weir. Some good keyboards too.
  6. “Saint of Circumstance” : The last of three songs featuring Weir on vocals, and this one is a banger!
  7. “Antwerp’s Placebo (The Plumber)” : What the heck?
  8. “Easy to Love You “: Mydland’s vocals are pretty good on this one.
  9. ” Don’t Ease Me In ” : What a fun way to close the album. The harmonies are well -done.

Final Verdict: Don’t let the awful cover photo fool you. The Grateful Dead are finally back to sounding like they’re supposed to sound. This is an excellent album and a great introduction for Brent Mydland.

Grade: A-