Monday, December 15, 2008

Over Rated

My buddy Brian is doing a feature on his blog about the most overrated bands in rock and roll. Since copying is the most sincerest form of flattery (or something like that), we'll get into Randy's most over rated...

Exhibit A

The Grateful Dead.

Now mind you, I like a lot of their stuff, it's the endless noodling and the God like fascination their followers have with the band that does it for me. Jeez, stay in time and in tune will ya? They had a couple of decent releases ("Workingman's Dead" being one). I remember buying their live album (Europe 72) when I was 16 and taking it back to get my money refunded the next day. I just didn't get it. I still don't. Nice enough stuff but hardly cult like legions of unwashed material. Hey, it's a subjective blog and I appreciate good music like the next person, but having lived through it, I still don't get it. "Noodle music" as my dad described it. "Do they play, or do they just noodle all day?" Over rated.


Brian Holland said...

Oddly enough, the Grateful Dud nearly made my list too, but my list was getting way too long, and I never considered them to be rated all that highly in the first place. I always liked "Alabama Getaway" and "Touch Of Grey", but that's about it--the rest of their stuff pretty much blows like reefer in the wind at their concerts did. From what I've heard, their shows were interminable bores, which is odd for a group that was such a popular concert attraction.

dr sardonicus said...

Except how do you rate a band that never really played by the rules?

On the one hand, the Dead were just a gaggle of scruffy, free-wheeling hippie folkies who happened to be in the right place at the right time. A lot of the now-legendary Haight-Ashbury scene was accidental. On the other, the Dead could make solid albums when they set their mind to it, such as Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. In the mid-80's, having been written off as drug casualties by everybody outside the cult, they came up with In The Dark, one of their finest moments. When they were focused, they were a band to be reckoned with.

Problem was, the Dead figured out early on that their audiences weren't necessarily there to see them. The Deadheads were there mostly to soak up the vibe and to be one with the higher consciousness - the band could have been on stage holding broomsticks and it wouldn't have made any difference to much of their following. As the 70's faded and the Deadheads became one of the last surviving remnants of the drug culture, the problem just became worse. The Grateful Dead in their later years had no incentive to focus - their fans didn't care, and they became increasingly irrelevant to those outside the cult. They finally had to make In The Dark to re-establish their credibility; having done that, they returned to coasting.

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