Playing In The Band: The Ultimate Grateful Dead Live Playlist

On this day in 1995, Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia passed away.  His legacy remains as strong as ever and Dead fans across the globe still hold the band’s work in very high regard.   Despite some top quality studio albums, it was always in the live setting when Jerry and the band really became something special.

Like most bands with long careers, of course, the Dead didn’t always get it right.  They’d sometimes get it spectacularly wrong (as was the case with a late 80s show with Stephen Stills).  With Grateful Dead’s official live releases now numbering several dozen and hundreds of bootlegs still in circulation, the world of Dead live recordings can be a minefield.

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KING BLACK ACID & THE CRYSTAL UNICORN – Super Beautiful Magic

In March 2017, retro rock band King Black Acid released their ‘Twin Flames‘ EP. Despite ’17 barely being a few months old at that point, it was clear that the EP was special enough to potentially be one of the year’s best releases. Bringing together the sounds of Crazy Horse, Band of Horses and more besides (not necessarily horse related), its three tracks dropped the listener into a twenty minute musical cycle that was both other worldly and pretty much timeless. If ever there were a great example of music being utterly satisfying, then ‘Twin Flames’ most assuredly fit the bill.

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THREE DIMENSIONAL TANX – Attack

three-dimensional-tanxWith an inventive approach that combines indie rock with psychedelia and a touch of 70s Krautrock, sci-fi obsessed Lancaster band Three Dimensional Tanks fill their fourth album ‘Attack’ with tunes that can be sharp and upbeat, lax and hazy and sometimes mange to be both at once. For lovers of music driven by retro organ work, it’s a recording that needs to be heard, since the energy these guys sum up is really impressive.

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ACID TONGUE – Beautiful Disaster EP

beautiful disasterIt takes more than guitar reverb and a perceived cooler-than-you retro attitude to make great music. Sadly, Seattle’s Acid Tongue haven’t really understood that. The bulk of their 2016 EP ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is an echo drenched, hipster baiting mess that relies far more on style than substance. Only one of the four featured tracks is worth hearing more than once: if not for the presence of the half-decent ‘Twisted’, ‘Beautiful Disaster’ would be a complete disaster.

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THE LUNAR EFFECT – Strange Lands

lunar effectA band previously described as having “vim and verve”, Herfordshire’s The Lunar Effect play a brand of stoner and desert rock that so often has a definite American sound. Taking bits of Kyuss, Trouble, Sun Voyager and the obligatory seasoning of Sabbath, their work is riff heavy, but often tempered by a welcome spaciousness giving proceedings a slightly trippy nature. Following their 2014 home recorded EP, for 2016’s ‘Strange Lands’, Jon Jefford (vox/g) and Daniel Jefford (d) now find themselves as part of a full band and with a slightly bigger recording budget. This gives their first full length release more scope than they ever had before.

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