Pitchfork, the popular music website mostly located in Chicago, typically concern themselves with new music.
But every so often they go back and review something from the past. On its 50th anniversary, they cover my favorite popular music album of all time.
Pitchfork virtually never give an album a perfect 10, it is quite rare. But they picked the right one this time! Grateful Dead: American Beauty / The Angel’s Share Album Review.
Released in November 1970 and reissued for its 50th anniversary this month, American Beauty is a pure and potent representation of Dead-ness as a philosophical outlook. Earlier in the year, with Workingman’s Dead, the band made an abrupt about-face from the murk and discord of previous albums toward the bluegrass and folk that had captivated Garcia in his early days as a musician, with some Buck Owens and Merle Haggard thrown in for good measure. American Beauty, which came just five months later, uses a similarly earthy palette, but its concerns are quite different. The songs of Workingman’s Dead, filled with archetypal characters of the American West, involve a fair amount of rambling and gambling. American Beauty is more like a guided meditation, or a solitary swim in a cool, clear lake.
I found myself nodding along in agreement with the entire review, except for the one part where I had to stop and look up the meaning of "eremitic".
Happy Anniversary, American Beauty.