Sound: This album is, in my personal opinion, one of the best sounding Grateful Dead albums out there (not including live albums). The drums have a heavy sound when the music is loud and clear, but it also has a relaxed sound whenever the music lays back for a while. The guitars are clear, but there are certain times when they mix with the weird noises that are constantly appearing all over the place. For some people these weird interludes, such as at the end of "That's It For The Other One", can be a bit distracting and annoying, but a Deadhead will just go along with what the band thought was a new and clever idea at the time. Phil's bass can be heard through out the album, which is a good thing, because in most albums at anytime, the bass was usually drowned out by the guitars or the drums. Phil seems to make sure his is clearly there for everyone to hear, but don't worry, it doesn't effect the music negatively in any way. There's also an organ on "Anthem Of The Sun". I always think that this is an instrument that has been forgotten about and that alot of bands could do great things with this. Especially Prog rock/metal bands. It has a very powerful sound. Think if you're local church decided to hire the Grateful Dead to do the music for all of the songs people sing to. It's almost like that, but it can be completely different however you see it. That's how I personally see it... Comical.
For anyone who is new to Dead albums, this is known as many things: acid Rock, Jam Rock, Rock'n'roll, Psychedelic rock, etc. I see it as Psychedelic because the band decides to take 5 tracks and mix them into 40 minutes of great music. It's a fact that alot of these songs could be maybe about 4 minutes, except for "Born Cross-Eyed", which is only a 2 minute song. But, this is what makes the Grateful Dead: they make these songs and take you on some sort of journey with each album, and that's the thing that makes me continue buying their albums.
One amazing thing that can't go unnoticed is that for this album, the band mixed the songs recorded in the studio with some live recordings of the same songs. The songs, in such, would be lengthened by it being a studio song and then quickly switching to the live recordings. And for the life of me, I cannot tell where it is that they start or stop. But there are the parts where I know that they are live. Such as in the middle of the last track. This is something that really makes this album amazing and unique and it is a must-listen. // 10
Lyrics and Singing: Most of the songs, I can honestly tell you I have no idea what it is that they mean. But, that's the same thing with alot of people. Most of the Grateful Dead's songs really aren't supposed to make sense lyrically, only musically. Besides, when there is this much Psychedlia in one album, the lyrics one of the things that matter least. But the lyrics do fit in well, and there really aren't any parts where it sounds like they just added that in at the last minute for it to be a full line or lyric or something along that.
The four singers on this album are: Bob Weir, Pigpen, Phil Lesh, and everyone's favorite, Jerry Garcia. I really don't think that Phil sings lead vocals anywhere, I think he just does some backing vocals, but if you ever do hear his singing, it's good. The top 2 singers in the band, Bob and Jerry, make this album great. If you want something relaxed and soothing, listen to a song with Jerry singing: "That's It For The Other One", "Alligator". If you want Bob, who's a bit more of a country voice, I think, try "Born Cross-Eyed". Great song.
1. That's It For The Other One
2. New Potato Caboose
3. Born Cross-Eyed
5. Caution (Do Not Stop On The Tracks) // 9
Impression: This album has been on the "500 Greatest Albums Of All-Time List" and it deserves it. The amount of creativity that went into making this album with the switching of the studio and live tracks to the improvisation is just phenomenal. Compared to other artists at the time (1968), it's just another masterpiece. To a lot of people, the late 60's was the last peak of creativity for music and I kind of have to agree. Now-a-days someone will come up with a new sound, them being the true artists. But then a whole bunch of copycats will show up using that same sound but maybe mixing an idea or two in there, so it's harder to notice.
Honestly, the best songs on here are "That's It For The Other One", "Alligator", and "Caution". These tracks really make the album as they are the tracks that are heavily using improvisation. But the song structures themselves still make it great. The only thing I can hate is that there's not enough tracks. I think they probably had at least 2 more tracks laying around that they decided not to use.
But, still, "Anthem Of The Sun" is an amazing album that was released when music was really at it's high point. I can easily say that this will be one of the times where you will really be getting something for the 10 bucks you will spend to get this album. It's worth the trip.
P.S. I dedicate this review and any other I do for the Grateful Dead to all the Dead-heads out there who had a chance to see these guys, as I was born only a little bit before Jer-bear's death. // 10