Thursday, August 25, 2005

Review of "The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol 1"

From LiveDaily:

Album Review: "The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary" (Rhino)
August 23, 2005 09:51 AM
Jim Harrington
liveDaily Contributor

Jerry Garcia (
music) must have been a true nightmare for his teachers back in grade school. The man born Jerome John Garcia probably couldn't sit still for more than a minute without organizing a dodgeball game or tinkering with some art project.

That's definitely the type of attitude he brought to his professional career, which extended in a plethora of ways outside of the Grateful Dead. He played bluegrass with Old & In the Way, jammed with New Riders of the Purple Sage, explored a jazzier side with organist Howard Wales, recorded with Jefferson Airplane and led his own group, The Jerry Garcia Band. He also, for a seven-month run in 1974-75, fronted the band Legion of Mary.

Rhino marks the 10th anniversary of Garcia's death by unveiling the first official Legion of Mary CD. The two-disc set--which was recorded at concerts in Portland, OR; Berkeley, CA; and San Francisco--is an excellent document of Garcia's eclectic talents and tastes.

The band, which also included keyboardist Merl Saunders, bassist John Kahn, saxophonist Martin Fierro and former Elvis skins-man Ron Tutt, jams through high-flying renditions of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock," Ray Charles' "Talkin' 'bout You" and Hank Ballard's "Tore Up Over You."

The music, while never too self-indulgent, definitely conveys more than a touch of the Dead's love for experimentation. For the most part, however, the musicians come across more like friendly barroom players--albeit sensationally talented ones--than they do psychedelic soldiers on "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "That's a Touch I Like." The album's highpoint is the epic 16-minute-plus jam of Smokey Robinson's "I Second That Emotion."
In all, "Legion of Mary" is a fine start to what should be a very satisfying ongoing series of Garcia releases.

For those who need more Jerry in a hurry, Rhino has also released the first-ever Jerry Garcia Band DVD, "Live at Shoreline." The DVD captures the entire two-hour-plus concert delivered by JGB at the two-tent-shaped venue in Mountain View, CA, back on Sept. 1, 1990. Amazingly, it's one of the few "Jerry Band" performances to have been filmed. Thankfully, it's a good one.


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