Grateful Dead: Terrapin Station (1977)

[Kronomyth 15.0]
It’s Not the Terrapin, It’s the Journey.

If you suspect the title track isn’t about turtles, you may be on(to) something. Terrapin, terrippin, trrippin, trippin. That’s how it was explained to me. Twenty years later, it still takes me places. The side-long “Terrapin Part I” is the proggiest passage I’ve encountered in the Dead’s catacombs. When I heard it, the whole Dead “thing” finally clicked with me. American Beauty confirmed it (I went backwards), and I’ve been a fan ever since. Albums are doors, after all, that lead to encounters. What attracts me to prog is that the whole thing is a great Narnian closet. You could argue that the Dead aren’t a prog band, and I wouldn’t disagree, merely point you to Blues For Allah, Terrapin Station, Aoxomoxoa, American Beauty and ask you where you’ve been lately. For the first half of the ride, it’s Weir at the wheel, stopping every few minutes to take on a new passenger. Donna Godchaux gets a rare cameo at the end for “Sunrise,” which features the unfortunate line: “I remember breezes from winds inside your body.” [Ordinarily, that would win the prize for most disgusting thought of the day, but this morning’s paper had an article with the headline “Whale corpse violated.” Turned out a dead whale had been hit with a hammer by someone who clearly lacked the caption editor’s imagination.] The cover of “Dancin’ in the Street” isn’t exactly a revelation either, although it is awfully catchy. The Dead at this stage had discovered a funky, organic vibe that created a colorful mosaic of music. In short form, it sounded trite (Shakedown Street), but in long form (Blues For Allah) it blossomed. These days, I come back to Terrapin Station for the title track and “Estimated Prophet.” In between it’s average, no better or worse than the studio albums that followed (Shakedown, Heaven). But the second side is a terrap I’d encourage prog fans to take if they really want to dig the Dead.

Original LP Version
A1. Estimated Prophet (Bob Weir/John Barlow) (5:35)
A2. Dancin’ In The Streets (William Stevenson/Marvin Gaye/Ivy Jo Hunter) (3:30)
A3. Passenger (Phil Lesh/Peter Monk) (2:48)
A4. Samson & Delilah (traditional, arr. by Bob Weir) (3:30)
A5. Sunrise (Donna Godchaux) (4:05)
B1. Terrapin Part 1 (16:10)
Lady with a Fan (Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter)
Terrapin Station (Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter)
Terrapin (Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter)
Terrapin Transit (Mickey Hart/Bill Kreutzmann)
At a Siding (Mickey Hart/Robert Hunter)
Terrapin Flyer (Mickey Hart/Bill Kreutzmann)
Refrain (Jerry Garcia)

CD reissue bonus tracks
7. Peggy-O
8. The Ascent
9. Catfish John
10. Equinox
11. Fire On The Mountain
12. Dancin’ In The Street (live)

The Players
Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Donna Godchaux (vocals), Keith Godchaux (keyboards, piano, synthesizers, vocals), Mickey Hart (drums, vibes), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Phil Lesh (bass), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals) with Paul Buckmaster (orchestral arrangement), The English Choral (choir), Martyn Ford Orchestra w. Martyn Ford (conductor), Robert Howes (choir conductor), Tom Scott (lyricon and saxophones on A1). Produced by keith Olsen; engineered by Keith Olsen, David DeVore.

The Pictures
Covert art by Kelley/Mouse Studio. Art coordination by Mary Ann Mayer.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and 8-track on July 27, 1977 in the US (Arista, AL 7001), the UK (Arista, SPARTY 1016), Germany (Arista, 1C 064 99306), Japan (Arista, IES-80892) and Yugoslavia (Jugoton, LSAR-73064) with picture sleeve; reached #28 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in January 1987 in the US (Arista, ALB6/ALC6-8329).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Arista, ARCD-8065).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in Europe (BMG, 260175).
  4. Re-released on K2 remastered compact disc in 2000 in Japan (BMG Int’l, BVCM-37135).
  5. Re-released on expanded compact disc on March 7, 2006 in the US (Rhino, 73279) with 6 bonus tracks.

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