The Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead From The Mars Hotel  » Music  »
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  • The Music - The music on this album isn't amazing throughout, but there are some great parts scattered throughout the record
  • Unfortunately, I personally can't say the same thing about Phil Lesh's vocals on this album
  • Garcia sounds great on this track as well, personally I prefer this song, and the music behind him is just great
  • I'll say that Garcia's solo is great and is really the only thing about this song that I find interesting
  • Unlike on Money Money where I wasn't really a huge fan of the backing vocals, I think that they work very well on this song and compliment Garcia's voice very nicely


    • by Grimmy101
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      Overview - Grateful Dead From The Mars Hotel, the seventh album by The Grateful Dead, is an album that’s a lot more upbeat and energetic than their past three efforts: Wake Of The Flood, American Beauty, and Workingman’s Dead. On Wake Of The Flood, you could tell that the band was starting to depart a bit from the folk rock and country rock tones they developed on Workingman’s Dead and developed on American Beauty and lean more towards just rock songs, although not back to their psychedelic roots. Grateful Dead From The Mars Hotel continues with this and the songs just a lot more like standard rock, although not bad by any means, rather than folk or country. This album does still have some traces of country influence and sounds, but is primarily just more of a rock record which has a very lively feel to it throughout, yet also some very melodic tracks.

      The Music - The music on this album isn’t amazing throughout, but there are some great parts scattered throughout the record. Garcia has some great solos, particularly on Unbroken Chain, as well as just riffs, but for the most part - the music is just fitting, not meant to showoff or be in the spotlight for very long. I didn’t really notice any amazing basslines by Lesh which I generally find at least once on a Dead album, but then again I didn’t listen in too closely for them. I also have to give credit to the great piano lines throughout the record and the very fitting and effective organ lines. The music is solid, great in places actually, but the album is carried more by the vocals and by energy.

      The Lyrics And Vocals - Some of the tracks on here have some lyrics that I really like, particularly some lines of Scarlet Begonias, yet some of these songs have some lines that sound extremely annoying after a while, particularly Money Money. But for the most part, the lyrics on this record are great - Robert Hunter doesn’t disappoint at all really. I’ll say that Garcia’s vocal performance throughout this whole


      album is just great and he sounds fitting no matter what the song sounds like. Unfortunately, I personally can’t say the same thing about Phil Lesh’s vocals on this album. I’m sure some people do like his singing, but personally he just sounds too awkward and unnatural singing, at least on this record at least. But anyway, the tracks that Garcia sings lead on are great and he sounds fitting on each one.

      The Tracks -

      1. U.S. Blues - U.S. Blues have a pretty energetic feel to it and it almost feels as if it’s being played live. Garcia’s lyrics and vocal melody are very catchy on this track which fit in with the simple backing music very well. The song has a nice piano line which goes with the overall feel of the song perfectly and Garcia also throws in an electrically driven solo, something he really hasn’t done for the past three albums. Not an amazing song, but it’s really catchy and is still pretty good.

      2. China Doll - While U.S. Blues has a very live feel to it, China Doll has a much more laid back delivery and is much more melodic. Garcia sounds great on this track as well, personally I prefer this song, and the music behind him is just great. Garcia’s lead guitar is much less prominent in the mix, yet still loud enough to be very effective in setting and continuing the mood of the song. The harmony and backing vocals on this song are also great and the song is excellent overall. This album has a lot of good songs on it but I’d have to say this is up there with my favorites.

      3. Unbroken Chain - Right from the start Unbroken Chain seems to have a bit more of a country tone, similar to American Beauty, to it. Phil Lesh sings lead on this track and is a pretty big change from Jerry Garcia, it’s just a really different feel. While Garcia always sounds a bit more lighthearted, Lesh sounds very serious on this track, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just don’t care for his ...


      • tone too much on this song. Musically and overall the song is a very mellow, like China Doll, but doesn’t have too much going on until Garcia’s solo starts. I’ll say that Garcia’s solo is great and is really the only thing about this song that I find interesting. To put it simply, when there’s vocals and Lesh is singing the song really isn’t all that great, but once Garcia starts soloing, it gets much better.

        4. Loose Lucy - Huge contrast from Unbroken Chain. While Unbroken Chain had a much more mellow and darker tone to it, Loose Lucy is a lot more upbeat and cheerful sounding. This song is a lot more straightforward than the rest of the songs that have been on this album so far, but it’s still a very solid track. Garcia sounds great on it and has a very catchy vocal melody, it could’ve used a solo or at least some type of change during the middle, but it’s still a pretty good song overall.

        5. Scarlet Begonias - Personally Scarlet Begonias is my favorite song off this entire album. After Lesh singing on Unbroken Chain, it was great to hear Garcia singing again with his more lighthearted delivery. The music is also a lot more, for lack of a better word, “stiff” like how it was for most of Unbroken Chain, aside from the solo. Vocally, Garcia just sounds great on this song and the melody is extremely catchy as well. Garcia’s solo isn’t as good as on Unbroken Chain, yet it still fits the song, and I have to say that the organ throughout this whole song gives it a very nice touch. This song just has a great feel to it with excellent songwriting, brilliant track.

        6. Pride Of Cucamonga - Similar to Unbroken Chain, Pride Of Cucamonga has much more of a country sound to it like from Workingman’s Dead or American Beauty. Lesh sings yet again on this track, and although I love the man’s basslines throughout The Dead’s entire career, I really didn’t like his vocal performances on this album. This song has a great piano

        solo in it and a few nice guitar lines, but like Unbroken Chain, there just really isn’t much else to it. The tracks that Phil Lesh sing on throughout this album tend to lean more towards a country sound which just doesn’t really fit with the rest of the record and really aren’t all that great. Nothing too special here.

        7. Money Money - This song sort of has the same feeling that U.S. Blues has, a very upbeat, energetic, and lively sounding song. This track, just like the opening track, also features a nice piano line to fit with the rest of the song and Garcia’s vocals. Unlike most tracks which use backing vocals, I’m not a huge fan of the background vocals on this song - not necessarily because they’re female, but just for whatever reason. Not an amazing song, with a chorus that actually gets a bit annoying, but still a good one.

        8. Ship Of Fools - Ship Of Fools is another mellow track, similar to China Doll, where Garcia just sounds great once again. Unlike on Money Money where I wasn’t really a huge fan of the backing vocals, I think that they work very well on this song and compliment Garcia’s voice very nicely. This track has a nice organ line throughout as well as a good guitar solo, but the spotlight is primarily on Garcia’s vocals - and he pulls it off very well.

        Conclusion - Overall, this album is extremely solid and actually has a few of my favorite Dead songs in their whole career. This album only had 2 tracks that I didn’t particularly care for, and they weren’t really terrible - I just wasn’t a huge fan of Lesh’s vocals. The songs on this album can go from sounding very live, such as on the opening track, to sounding very delicate and melodic such as on China Doll - the range and variety is an excellent thing to have on any album. Although not as great as The Dead’s earlier work, I’d have to say that I probably do enjoy this album more than their past three efforts. Very solid record overall.




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