[Review] Jerry Garcia: Garcia (1974)

Pin Ups or These Foolish Things it isn’t, but Garcia’s second album puts a delightfully distinctive spin on cover tunes.

Kronomyth 2.0: Kahnsession stand

Jerry Garcia was no stranger to cover songs, and yet his first studio album as a cover artist turned out to be surprisingly, wonderfully strange. Produced and arranged by John Kahn, Garcia’s second eponymous solo album—often referred to as Compliments because of a sticker that appeared on the original elpee which read “Compliments of Garcia”—featured the Dead vocalist/guitarist in a number of unexpected settings, from Van Morrison (“He Ain’t Give You None”) to the Marvelettes (“When The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game”). The arrangements are likewise unusual: boozy horns that recall The Kinks (“What Goes Around”), orchestral settings (“Mississippi Moon”) and a version of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together” that’ll charm your socks off.

Jerry Garcia has always been a fan of other people’s music, but his interpretations tend to stay faithful to the originals. Here, Garcia (under the able direction of Kahn) interprets the material in his own unique idiom. The result has more in common with the musical revisionism of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie than Keystone, as it makes you hear the music in new ways. Garcia has never made another album quite like it.

Together with his first eponymous album, an acknowledged classic, Compliments forms a complementary pair of bookends. The first was all about the Dead; this album is Garcia the Undead, transporting his voice and guitar into new and unfamiliar settings. In 2004, Rhino re-released this album with ten previously unreleased (and completely predictable) R&B covers that add not one iota to the record’s charm. In 2015, the original Compliments was re-issued in a limited-edition version to commemorate Record Store Day, proving yet again that record stores know more about good music than record labels.

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Original LP Version

A1. Let It Rock (Chuck Berry) (3:12)
A2. When The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game (William Robinson) (2:46)
A3. That’s What Love Will Make You Do (Henderson Thigpen/James Banks/Eddy Marion) (3:42)
A4. Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin) (3:04)
A5. Turn On The Bright Lights (Albert Washington) (5:04)
B1. He Ain’t Give You None (Van Morrison) (3:25)
B2. What Goes Around (Mac Rebbenack) (3:07)
B3. Let’s Spend The Night Together (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) (3:40)
B4. Mississippi Moon (Peter Rowan) (3:06)
B5. Midnight Town (John Kahn/Robert Hunter) (3:12)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. That’s A Touch I Like (Jesse Winchester) (3:40)
12. (I’m A) Road Runner (Brian Holland/Lamont Dozier/Eddie Holland) (4:10)
13. It’s Too Late (She’s Gone) (Chuck Willis) (4:27)
14. I’ll Forget You (copyright control) (3:21)
15. Tragedy (Fred Burch/Gerald Nelson) (3:52)
16. Think (Deadric Malone/Jimmy McKracklin) (4:12)
17. I Know It’s A Sin (Jimmy Reed)
18. Lonesome Town (Thomas Baker Knight) (6:19)
19. Cardiac Arrest (studio jam) (Jerry Garcia/John Kahn/Michael Omartian/Merl Saunders/Ron Tutt) (1:39)
20. Back Home In Indiana (James Hanley/Ballard McDonald) (7:08)

The Players

Jerry Garcia (guitars, vocals), Arthur Adams (guitar), Larry Carlton (guitar), John Kahn (bass, horn & string arrangements), Michael Omartian (piano, Fender Rhodes), Merl Saunders (organ), Ron Tutt (drums) with Terry Adams (cello on B4/B5), Ben Benay (rhythm guitar on B4), Merry Clayton (background vocals on B1/B5), Vassar Clements (violin on 20), Gene Connors (trombone & horn arrangement on A3/A5), Miriam Dye (viola on B4/B5), Arnie Egilsson (string bass on B4/B5), Nancy Ellis (viola on B4/B5), Amos Garrett (trombone on A4/B2), Willie Green (B Flat clarinet on B), Richard Greene (violin on A4/B3), David Grisman (mandolin on 20), Bobbye Hall (percussion on A1/A3/B2/B3), Judiyaba (cello on B4/B5), Jackie Kelso (saxophone on A3/A5), Clydie King (background vocals on B1/B5), Melvin Moore (trumpet on A3/A5), Geoff Muldaur (clarinet on B2), Maria Muldaur (background vocals on B3), David Nichtern (guitar on 20), Sid Page (violin on B4/B5), Patty (background vocals on B1/B5), Carl Pedersen (violin on B4/B5), Gary Ray (B Flat clarinet on B4), Tom Rose (clarinet on B4), John Rotella (E Flat clarinet on B4), Nathan Rubin (violin on B4/B5), Julian Sheer (bass clarinet on B4), Ray Siegal (string bass on B4/B5), Joel Tepp (clarinet on B4), Emily van Valkenburg (violin on B4/B5). Produced by John Kahn; engineered by Ron Malo.

The Pictures

Cover artwork by Victor Moscoso.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in June 1974* in the US and Canada (Round, RX-102), the UK (Round, RX-59301), Germany (Round, 29.903) and Japan (Round, P-8493G); reached #49 on the US charts. (*First appeared on 6/1/74 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (United Artists, LAX-131).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1987 in the UK (Grateful Dead, GDTC 4011).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in April 1989 in the US (Grateful Dead, GDCD-4009/GDC 40094).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1995 in the US (Arista, ARCD/AC-14009).
  5. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2004 in the US (Rhino, R2 79505) with 10 bonus tracks.

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