* live version of song from 1981’s live album, Reckoning
“Farewell, ‘Dark Star’; hello, songs” (Blender). The “luminous” (Ankeny) “Workingman’s Dead paved the way, and the acid-etched Californians took their newfound love of rolling tunes, loose harmonies and folksy storytelling a step further on American Beauty” (Blender), a “companion piece” (Ankeny) to the aforementioned album. However, it was American Beauty that became “their indispensable album [that] gave them both FM-radio access and their peripatetic anthem, Truckin’” (Blender).
“American Beauty is an even stronger document of the Grateful Dead’s return to their musical roots” (Ankeny). “Thanks to the addition of subtle electric textures” (Ankeny), this album sports “a more full-bodied and intricate sound than its predecessor” (Ankeny).
“The record is also more representative of the group as a collective unit, allowing for stunning contributions from Phil Lesh (the poignant opener, Box of Rain) and Bob Weir (Sugar Magnolia); at the top of his game as well is Jerry Garcia, who delivers the superb Friend of the Devil, Candyman, and Ripple” (Ankeny).
“American Beauty remains the Dead’s studio masterpiece – never again would they be so musically focused or so emotionally direct” (Ankeny).