For many of us, when the Grateful Dead played, Jerry Garcia was pretty much the whole show. Without much of a life beyond music, Jerry played more or less continuously, forming other bands when the Dead were on hiatus. All Good Things re-releases his five records made with the Jerry Garcia Band, with a ton of bonus material–alternate takes, covers, and studio jams–that in a couple cases make better records than what was originally released. Who made those decisions? And what was he smo– Oh. Yeah.
A couple things stand out. First, Jerry could play almost anything. He performed country with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, soul music with Merle Saunders, and bluegrass with David Grisman, besides his eclectic work with the Dead. His "Back Home In Indiana" even evokes the Hot Club Second, outside of his regular band, his personality shines brighter than ever. He specialized in sad, slow, pretty songs, and there’s no endless Drums/Space interlude to wait through. (His "Spidergawd" and "Eep Hour" (punningly named for organist E. Power Briggs) still give you time to go out for another beverage, tho.)
Many of these songs joined the Dead canon, like "Deal," "Sugaree," "Must Have Been The Roses," "Catfish John," and "Tore Up." Cover songs should surprise, and these do, including Derek and the Dominoes ("It’s Too Late"), Beatles ("When I Saw Her Standing There" and "Dear Prudence"), the Stones ("Let’s Spend The Night Together"), and Warren Zevon ("Accidently Like A Martyr").
Geezer album of the year.