This is the best music Grateful Dead's ever put out and it still blows
American Beauty is the fifth studio album by rock band the Grateful Dead. Released November 1, 1970, by Warner Bros. Records, the album continued the folk rock and country music style of their previous album Workingman's Dead, issued earlier in the year. Upon release, American Beauty entered the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number 30 during a nineteen-week stay in January 1971. On July 11, 1974, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and it later reached Platinum and Double Platinum certification in 1986 and 2001, respectively. In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, 261 in a 2012 revised list, and 215 in a 2020 revised list.
This is the best music Grateful Dead's ever put out and it still blows
You might know American Beauty from Freaks and Geeks. If you’re like me, you know it as the response every Deadhead will give when confronted with the fact that the Dead were not a good studio band (as in: “but American Beauty, maaaan”). So here it is, the sole documented successful studio outing from one of the most overrated bands in American history. Let’s rewind a little, though. The Dead rose to prominence as regular performers at Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. If you’ve ever taken LSD, you’ll know that the bar for entertainment while tripping face is low. I once watched a friend try and tape a kaleidoscope to his head, so he could spend the entire night looking through it while on LSD. It was the funniest thing in the world to me that night and if I’m being honest, I still find it extremely funny, but that’s because it’s a pretty dumb thing to try to do and I got to witness it. It didn’t open my mind or expand my consciousness, it made me laugh because it was so stupid. He had a full head of hair and tried to duct tape a kaleidoscope around it. Zero thought was given to what would actually happen when he had to take the tape off his head, he just wanted stare through a kaleidoscope all night. As a result of the Acid Tests, or maybe before (I don’t know for sure and don’t really care enough to get the timeline straight, it’s ancillary to my point), The Dead linked up with Owsley Stanley, audio engineer and America’s foremost manufacturer of LSD at the time. Stanley built the Dead’s Wall of Sound and was their live sound engineer. So, the Dead were touring the country with the nation’s supplier of LSD, turning every concert into their own Acid Test, but people, to this day, will swear that the Grateful Dead were such a cultural phenom because they were master musicians and that the drugs were secondary. Remember when Bach used to give out absynthe at his concertos? Those master musicians, always getting their audiences off their gourds in order for their music to be “truly” appreciated. And in order to fully appreciate what great live band the Dead were you’ll have to go through thousands of hours of bootlegs, and find the ones where they weren’t an omnishambles on stage. When the Dead were bad, they were baaaaad. Regarding their studio work, Jerry Garcia and the band have admitted in interviews that the Dead never really got it right in the studio and couldn’t capture their live energy in the studio environment. They did this shit for nearly 30 years and couldn’t get it right in the studio. Let that sink in. American Beauty is probably the closest they got to making a “great” studio album. At the least, it’s an album you can sit through and not be too terribly bothered by most of the songs. Most of the songs aren’t especially tuneful, they’re overly busy with guitar licks and the vocals leave much to be desired. At best, it’s a mid-tier early 70’s Americana/roots rock outing. The Byrds, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival all put out much better and more interesting records along similar lines in the same timeframe as American Beauty. You could even argue that The Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies does it better and more interestingly…and those dudes are from England. The Dead are vastly overrated and mythologized. American Beauty, the crown jewel of their studio output, is no exception.
no idea why people followed this band around. you can do drugs at any show folks
I will never understand how such a mediocre band became so monstrously popular. The tracks here aren't bad, moreso forgettable - there's only so many ways you can arrange a major blues scale and noodle over it. Also some majorly uncomfortable vibes on 'Til the Morning Comes'
So many classic tunes, and such weird songwriting. Jerry is a truly unique mind. Sounds like one of the funnest bands to be in. The guitar solo on candyman is one of the most beautiful things ever.
I can understand why Grateful Dead is known less for their studio albums - the mix on some of these tracks is a letdown. Percussion parts too forward, guitars buried in the background where they can barely be detected. The vocal harmonies are rough at parts - phrases not ending crisply, not nailing certain parts, etc. Admittedly, these same warts likely add to the overall human charm. Despite my gripes, this is an amazingly strong collection of songs - just a happy listen from start to finish.
My cousin has a restaurant called Sugar Magnolias. I’m not a big Dead fan myself, but this was a good listen.
first GD studio album I've listened to as opposed to live recordings. Still not a fan. Reminds me of a less likeable version of crosby/stills/nash and or neil young. Meh.
God, I really can't stand the Grateful Dead. I've never understood the hype. And this apparently 'legendary' album...why anyone would choose to listen to 45 minutes of janky country-ish songs with off-key vocals is nothing short of deranged to me. I don't get it. Sue me.
Overall, it was an enjoyable album. Some songs seemed to drag a bit. Wren danced to every song. Mostly on her new beanbag chair.
Day 43 of Albums You Must Hear brings the 1970 album American Beauty from Grateful Dead. I know a lot of “Dead Heads” and I’m familiar with how much of an impact The Dead have had on musical culture worldwide. I don’t, however, know a whole lot about this band and their music. When I was younger, I wrote this band off as ‘Hippie music’, whatever I really thought that meant. Listening to American Beauty was a treat. It doesn’t get too rowdy or excitable, it’s more or less what we could call “chill music” or “good vibes”. On American Beauty, Grateful Dead use a mix of rock, bluegrass and country, to my surprise. My favorite songs on American Beauty are Friend Of The Devil, Ripple, Truckin’ and Box of Rain. The version of American Beauty I found was the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, with 23 bonus live songs, which, for time purposes I’ll have to save for another time. Grateful Dead was one of those rare bands that actually welcomed the recording of the audio of their live shows by fans, even allowing some folks to connect right into the soundboard. There are a lot of really high quality tape recordings out their of this band. This tactic really helped the band to grow their fan base over the years. I agree that this album is a must hear, and I look forward to more music from The Dead.
Grateful Dead is another of the bands that I was "afraid" of listening to because I don't feel I'm able to understand. However, after this album, I realized again that this fear is not justified, mainly because their geniality or unique qualities are too much intrinsic to the songs. A plain listening session gives us the experience of a standard 70/80s rock band and that it's already good enough (better than many other albums on the 1001 list). Maybe this is not the best GD album. Perhaps I'm still unable to comprehend everything, but I know I'm listening to good music and something meaningful. This is enough for me.
I was expecting a lot more from this. The Grateful Dead are such a legendary part of '60s counter-culture but on the evidence of this bland, middle of the road take on Americana I am struggling to see why.
I’ll listen 2day at the gym
Большую часть своей сознательной жизни думал, что Grateful Dead - это нечто сродни Black Sabbath, только пуще погруженное в оккультную тематику. Отсюда и незнание такой приятной музыки. В целом без откровений, но альбом было слушать в удовольствие.
I always expect more out of the dead than I ever seem to get. Just okay at the end of the day.
Soft rock/country. It has a country feel but is lacking any real soul or tunes. Like a guitar with no strings. Best Tracks: Box of Rain; Friend of the Devil; Truckin'
Literally my first time listening to the Dead. A band I always had low on my list to check out, but never got around to. Well, now I have. Don't have much great things to say. Passable, jammy country tunes with a steel guitar or acoustic. Harmonies that don't always sound great. Tunes that just aren't for me.
I just listened to the same song nine times, and then they played Truckin'. I have never liked the Dead - we're supposed to be enamored of them live, but why would I want to hear this boring batch of songs only with extra noodling on top of them? They've also always struck me as inauthentic - dipshit hippies in San Francisco who view themselves as purveyors of a combination of Delta blues and Appalachian roots music with some jazz thrown in who actually record the same lame country song over and over again. But this track has steel guitar! And there's mandolin on this other one! Still the same boring, chugging, midtempo song. The Dead are terrible, as are all of their jam band progeny. The only reason this isn't absolute bottom tier is because they at least refrained from having some asshole on this credited with electric washboard or electrojug or some other faux-country/folk bullshit. Fight me, hippy.
From this, you would barely recognise them as a 'jam band', the songs are tight and the three part harmonies steal the show. Brilliant.
Absolute cracker - ripple!!!!
A favorite but sometimes painfully nostalgic.
i've never loooooved the dead. i appreciate them as well as i can, and i definitely have fond memories with people who did loooooooove the dead, but it's never been for me. that said, this was a great album, and i will always always love ripple.
Un classique des classique. L’album d’une generation tan qu’a moi. J’yai meme redecouvert fes tounes. 5*
Klasyczny material wdziecznych truposzakow, jak dla mnie jedna z takich plyt ktora definiuje gatunek folkowego rokowania z domieszka kountry, nie wiem czy przemawia przeze mnie glownie sentyment do tego konkretnego albumu, ale dzwieki tych akustykow brzmia wyjatkowo cieplo, zwlaszcza na trakach takich jak ripple, jeden z moich ulubionych gratefulowych jamow, ciekawa sprawa jest to, ze praktycznie kazdy czlonek bandy mial swojego jama na tym albumiku, wiec nie ma tu klasycznego glownodowodzacego singera i grajkow, a raczej wymieniaja sie tym zadaniem, sprawa ma sie podobnie z pisaniem tekstow, bo banda wystepowala w tym czasie w 5 osob, ale jednak mieli dodatkowego czlonka, pana Huntera, ktory byl z Garcia filarem, jesli chodzi o tworzenie slow, przewinelo sie tez troche studyjnych muzykow przez ten album, bo jednak dodatkowe harmonijki, mandoliny, czy organy to jednak feature kountry, lirycznie album nawiazuje do swojego tytulu, bo to z hamerykanskich tradycji czerpie inspiracje, kawalki o tej jedynej kobiecie, miejscu do ktorego chce sie wracac, staruszkach ktorych szacunek starszkowy sie nalezy, zycie i zbrodnia jak na outlawa przystalo, wszystko to sie przewija, pojawiaja sie tez watki bardziej osobiste jak na otwierajacym box of rain, ktory pomimo tego, ze brzmi melodycznie jako szczesliwy jamik, to jest jednak lirycznie dosc smutna i stara sie walczyc z tym smutkiem, otwarcie drugiej strony plyty rowniez ma w sobie motyw wodny, bo jak sam tytul wskazuje ripple, sam kawalek jest chyba jednym z najbardziej spersonalizowanych trakow jakie slyszalem, bo spiewane jest o tym dlaczego w ogole jest spiewane oraz o tym jak ciezko jest spiewaniem przekazac to co sie chcialoby, a jeszcze trudniej zrozumiec to tak jak chcialby ten kto przekazuje informacje swym spiewem i nie tylko spiewem, mialem na plejke nie dodawac nic nowego, bo juz polowe albumu tam mam, ale jednak dodam jeszcze truckina, czyli zamykajacy kawalek i zarazem singiel promujacy plytye, ktory jest jedynym trakiem poruszajacy ladowanie po kablach na tym materiale, glownie jego negatywne efekty, przed tym przesluchaniem jakos mi to ucieklo z radaru, przy dodawaniu na plejke rozcil mi sie w oczy rowniez niezly pierdolnik jakie panuje na profilu trupiakow, naliczylem okolo 160 albumikow, z czego pewnie polowa to beda live materialy, ale najgorsze jest szukanie konkretnej wersji danego albumu, bo american beauty mozna znalezc w 5 wersjach remastera, powinno to byc podlinkowane pod konkretny album i tam sobie wybierac, zakladka na live albumy, jak jak na single rowniez bylaby dosc milym dodatkiem
LOVED IT felt like a country man on a long drive back to my farm 10/10 stuff
I wish I hadn't listened to this already so I can experience listening to it for the first time all over again.
I was happy when I saw this album as today's recommendation. I own this album, and it is my favorite album from the Grateful Dead. The songs have elements of folk, americana, and country. My two favorite tracks are "Box of Rain" and "Ripple". I've learned to play both on the guitar (with varying success). Individually, each of these tracks would get 5 stars from me. "Box of Rain" and "Ripple" have lyrics that tumble around in my head every time I listen to them. I would not say that I know exactly what the lyrics mean, but at the same time they feel meaningful to me. All together, the album works as a whole and is definitively a 5 for me. (Perhaps 4.6 to 4.75 at the lowest?)
I own this one. Long time favorite. Fun listen, as I hadn't played it in years.
Fantastic Americana from the best band in the world
So good, was really into this when I was 18/19 for some reason and haven't listened to since but still stands up.
reminds me of the drive to go camping, nostaligic almost
My favorite Dead album. I had this on CD and know all the songs by heart.
Excellent, Dead Americana and folk. Many great songs.
My favorite Grateful Dead album. Timeless.
I dig it a lot, a lot
I'm 26 years old, and this is my first time listening to Grateful Dead. This will not be my last. I absolutely love the harmonies.
A classic for sure! So many great songs, here. I bought this one in high school. Alas, the stars never aligned so that I could see them live. I think I would have enjoyed that.
Not sure what else can really be said about this one.
Warm & wonderful. Like old friends playing in a basement. I'm later to The Dead party by decades but love this. Added.
Such a fun, funky, folksy album. Love the mashup of bluegrass, funk, country, blues. It's no wonder people followed them all over the country
The first time I heard Truckin’, it blew my mind. High school me was hooked. I’ve had my chips cashed…all-in…since then. I love this album. It’s easily in my top 15, probably top 10. After several years pursuing psychedelic rock (read: jamming), The Grateful Dead got back to their blues and folk roots, with both American Beauty and it’s preceding album Workingman’s Dead, at the urging of David Crosby. In an effort to save money on studio time, the band rehearsed more before recording, resulting in a more streamlined and well organized arrangement. The efforts paid off handsomely. Truckin’ is still great after all these years and yes, the band did get setup and busted for pot in New Orleans. Ripple is a special, special song. It’s a simplistic, yet profound song about finding your own path in life. Friend of the Devil tells the tale of an outlaw trying to out run his mistakes and rueing them nightly. I can’t get enough of this song as well as Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, and Attics of My Life. The harmonies amongst Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Phil Lesh on Attics of My Life always get me. It’s beautiful stuff. I’ll finish with the one blemish on American Beauty, Candyman. No doubt Candyman it is a let down. It’s not horrible, but just a filler track. The biggest knock is that it is also the longest track on the album. BONUS!!!!!!!!!! The band worked on their throw back sound and released Workingman’s Dead just 4.5 months before American Beauty. The songs that were done were released on Workingman’s Dead in June while those still in flux were saved for American Beauty in November. Effectively, these form a double album. Workingman’s Dead is not on the 1001 list. It deserves a review, so I’ll tack it on here. The Grateful Dead, especially Jerry Garcia, we’re not confident about the sound of their voices. Crosby, Stills, and Nash to the rescue. CSN showed The Dead how to stack vocal tracks to blend and smooth out their voices. They didn’t get it quite right all the time on Workingman’s Dead as you can hear in High Time when they sing “high tiiimmmeee.” It’s harsh. They seem to have figured it out by American Beauty though. Of all the tracks on both albums, Uncle John’s Band is my favorite. The harmony throughout is on point. When the chorus shifts to a cappella near the end, I get chills…every…single…time. The lead guitar chimes in here and there to provide apt, short, fill-in licks. Perfectly timed, not over done. And the percussionist adds some kind of ratchet sounding thing that is well-placed. None of the other songs on Workingman’s Dead are as good as half the tracks on American Beauty, but they are all better than Candyman and Operator. I savor New Speedway Boogie, Easy Wind, Cumberland Blues, and really all 8 songs. Jerry Garcia’s pedal steel guitar is fantastic throughout the album. It gives Workingman’s Dead a more bluegrass-y sound than American Beauty. Overall the sound of both of these albums is reserved, not over ambitious (a good thing), and tight. These are not hallmarks of The Grateful Dead, who are mostly known for musical (aided by chemical) experimentation in an unstructured setting. It takes me back to albums like The White Stripes’s Elephant or xx by The xx. Those albums obviously have completely different sounds, but they share commonalities in their arrangement methods. Often times less is more, which applies here too. And this is what frustrates me personally about The Grateful Dead’s musical choices. These two albums demonstrate their extreme talent. These two albums are accessible and soooo remarkable. I am certainly grateful they were made, but at the same time I am left wishing the band had pursued more albums like them.
Classic Dead album. I always liked their sound.
I love this. I have given it multiple listens now. Not nearly as psychedelic as I was expecting. It's a band of fantastic musicians (but not self indulgent), clear crisp vocals, and catchy melodies. I wouldn't call myself a Deadhead just yet, but I'm on my way!
more like the basedful dead 10/10 some of the lyrics are kind of stupid but I still think it has a lot of value and heart
Get on the bus
GOAT jam band
Friend of the devil and truckin live rent free in this head
Truly one of the greatest albums ever made. Friend of the devil is one of my favorite songs ever
Got into this originally from the final scene of Freaks and Geeks. Listened to it ever since. Perfect summer album
Som muito bom de ouvir, do Country a pegada estilo Beatles. Truckin com um baixo bem legal
Loved it. The harmonies were amazing.
Aptly named. This is a beautiful album of genuine Americana rock. Such a lovely, folksy, rocking album. And it doesn't even have any of my favourite Dead songs on it!! But damn, it's just so good. Jerry can take the wheel any time, I know I'm in good hands. Ripple is a standout track, and Truckin' is the ultimate ode to road trippin', but Friend of the Devil is a powerful ditty too. I can see why people tossed their lives aside to follow these guys and jam all day long. What a cool, chill way of life. Wish I'd been able to do the same. Rest in power, Jerry! Fucking love you dude. And the rad ice cream you inspired too :)
Never really got in to the dead, and have just always had varied associations with them. This record is objectively great, the middle set of Candyman, Ripple, and Brokedown Palace is excellent and I can see how this album has been so enduring for so long. Up there with any of the best of the classic American music records.
Grateful Dead were an acquired taste for me, but I love this album so much now.
really liked friend of the devil
masterpiece. brooks is a freak.
The absolute pinnacle of The Dead's studio albums and probably the best starting point for someone new to their music. Rather than continuing to get lost in studio experimentation, they perfected the approach they began with "Working Man's Dead," where they focused on distilling their songwriting skills and myriad influences into these tight, well-crafted anthems. These songs would then of course go on to become mere starting points for further musical explorations in live settings on subsequent tours - particularly their 72 European tour (my personal favorite). For a band who isn't necessarily best known for their studio albums, this is a nearly flawless masterpiece. 5 stars for "Ripple" alone. Seriously, that is one the most timeless pieces of music I've ever heard. It's up there with things like "Amazing Grace" to me. Beyond Rock and Roll, or any genre for that matter.
One of my all-time favorites.
Terrific Americana, and it's not even one of their live recordings
Great album that put the group into American culture
When I hear someone mention the Grateful Dead, studio albums do not usually come to mind. But I haven’t heard a skip yet. This is right up my alley. Always interested me how the Dead seem so in a category of their own. Hard to play the Kevin Bacon game with them. But Till the Morning Comes could so easily be a Byrds/CSNY song. I get the hype. 5 stars
Great songwriting, great vibes all around, many classic tunes.
One of their best, very much the hippie country band on this one. 5 stars.
I am not a giant deadhead, but I know every song on this album. Perfect vibe for this snowy, dreary day.
Really great. Would recommend.
The Dead's best studio album.
First time listening to a Grateful Dead album, and it won't be my last. Love the sound, love the harmonies, love the diversity in writing across the different songs. Favorite track: Box of Rain
an american classic. jerry garcias, bob, phil, bill, pigpen, mickey, and robert hunter absolutely slapped up a magnificent piece of work.
This album legit impacted people's lives, and I can't help but respect that
Lovely to hear this again - groundbreaking
Great album probably The Deads best studio work. How anyone can hate an album with Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Ripple. Til the Moring Comes and Truckin' is beyond me. Yet some people love punk and death metal so to each their own I guess.
Don’t listen to studio dead often, this hit the spot
This is the definition of a perfect album.
More than just an album of great songs, singing and playing, AB demonstrates how traditional American sounds and song motifs are renewed over generations to remain relevant expressions of American culture.
I love this album so much. It’s so beautiful. The lyrics are on a whole other level of incredible, with help from the late, great Robert Hunter. Chords feel familiar but they’re also very original. Also, a good variety of songs on this album from a band who historically have low of range. The instruments are tight which comes from a band that is completely all on the same page with each other. It goes without saying, as well, that the songs are so fun to listen to. Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Ripple, and Truckin’ are the hits and also half of the entire album. This album was such a big step up for the band and the music community at the time, I haven’t a single complaint. 5/5
Must be upfront here with my loving bias toward this band and its members. I attended more than two dozen shows in the 80s and 90s, plus another handful of Jerry Garcia Band shows and a Bob Weir show (one of his tours with Rob Wasserman). I was just this morning listening on my walk to one of their countless live recorded shows. I don't often listen to their studio work because I prefer their live performances, but this is definitely an album I've listened to so many times and owned since I was a teen. Such great songs on this record. I have not seen the Dead in any incarnation since Jerry died in '95, but this summer (2023) I'm going to see Dead & Company in their final tour. I'm going with one of my best friends from college with whom I saw quite a few shows. I'm really looking forward to it! I am still amazed and awed by Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, who have been playing and touring since the 60s. Bob Weir in particular is ridiculously endurant as a musician and performer. As I age, I do think of his devotion to health and well-being and can see how profound and positive an impact it's having on Bob Weir as an energetic septuagenarian. Wow! I miss Jerry. So much. What an incredibly versatile and talented musical artist. [sigh] I really do miss Jerry, though. Always will.
Rock on, Jerry <3
I'm so used to hearing live Dead recordings that this took me by surprise for how crisp it is.
Don't care much for jam bands but I've always liked this album for being a little tighter / more focused. Side one of the album is great start to finish!
Dead have only 2 great studio albums and this on one, I think Workingman's Dead is better though. The best way to listen is live however.
probably the best GD studio album. an absolute classic
Always a classic
12/22 Very woodsy, very rural, barefoot, psychedelic music. Standout Tracks: Friend Of The Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Operator, Attics Of My Life, Truckin'
Very enjoyable rock, certainly could understand why people would think it's better than similar material from the same year. But it's gonna be a while before I can understand the obsession so many fans have with this band.
I knew this would come up eventually. I feel like I've been held hostage by recordings of live shows for the Grateful Dead so much, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. At the same time, I could go the rest of my life not hearing another. Gorgeous harmonies, and I can enjoy this when I know the songs aren't 20 minutes long for no reason. Favorite tracks: "Ripple", "Box of Rain", "Truckin'"
Över förväntan. Ett trevligt album
Tyckte om detta. trevligt att lyssna på, goa röster, skönt proddad. Lagom trippy. en fyra!
country road take me home sounding
I never realized their music was so mellow
Awesome mix of folk americana and jam sesh stuff. Beautiful lyrics in some cases.
Probably the best Dead album for the non-Head.
Wonderful album. Really nostalgic.
Great stuff from the Dead in 1970.