The Grateful Dead: American Beauty (1970)


This is one of the albums from the glory days of the San Francisco scene. I don’t propose to discuss the Frisco scene in depth here, simply because there is so much more to it and I just may want to get aboard a Bay-Area hobby-horse later on when I unveil the meister-guitarists Jerry Garcia, Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs to you. So what you have got here is an album that has been a constant comfort to me down the ears.

Admit it – you always knew the Grateful Dead would come calling when you asked me to give you this road map. Here is probably their best ever studio album. It is called American Beauty and it was made (along with its brother album, Workingman’s Dead) when the band realised that they could move away from long rambling psychedelic jams and find pleasure in delivering simple and clean examples of songs written in the style of the great American folk, country and heritage music songbooks.

I will talk separately to you about the Dead but, of all the bands I’ve loved and championed down the years, I honestly believe they were the finest ensemble players I was ever privileged to see. They were in essence a ‘live’ band, not a studio band.


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