On June 14, 1970, the Grateful Dead released Workingman’s Dead, an album that was unlike anything they had ever done, one that showed the world a new side of the Dead. It was clearly the same band as before, but now with a distinctly different sound and approach to the music, pivoting from psychedelic improvisation to folk-rock storytelling for the “everyman,” as the album’s title suggests.
While the Dead’s first three studio albums appealed to many, the group didn’t yet have the mass breakthrough that would make the entire world take notice of this band of misfits from the Bay Area. Workingman’s Dead changed all that. With eight perfect songs – like Casey Jones and High Time – the album solidified the Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter songwriting tandem as one of the best, and most-important, songwriting collaborations in music history.
Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart recorded the album in about 10 days at Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco with Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor – the band’s live-sound engineers – as producers. Fifty years on, every song on Workingman’s Dead sounds fresh, alive, and new.
Workingman’s Dead (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) includes the band’s previously unreleased live performance from 1971 at the Capitol Theatre. The show featured a plethora of songs from both Workingman’s Dead and the band’s follow-up album, American Beauty, which was released in November 1970. Some highlights include Weir’s moving vocal take on Me and Bobby McGee, Pigpen’s whiskey-seasoned growl on Easy Wind and a stellar run through Uncle John’s Band to close out the show.
The 3CD set includes the original album with newly remastered sound, plus an unreleased concert recorded on February 21, 1971 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The show was mixed from the 16-track analog master tapes by Jeffrey Norman at Bob Weir’s Marin County TRI Studios and mastered by Grammy® Award-winning engineer, David Glasser.