Sunday, January 4, 2009

Alligator - Grateful Dead Song Review


Alligator is a classic. Alligator definitely has a structure and lyrics and theme and chorus, but when I think of Alligator I think of free form acid rock jamming. I have heard my Deadhead friends refer to the combination of Alligator and Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) from Anthem of the Sun as "Alligator Caution" (much like "Scarlet Fire" or "Eyes Estimated").

This song is great, there is a kazoo sounding instrument that plays a sarcastic theme and then Pigpen sings about "ridin' down the river in an old canoe" and a run in with "a mean ol' alligator." Then the band goes off in a group improvisation and then I guess at some point on Anthem of the Sun the song changes to Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks). I still think of that as part of Alligator if memory serves and also I believe the Dead were trying to make many track listings on Anthem for the purpose of maximizing royalties. That practice created the interesting result of a bunch of phrases being seemingly arbitrarily assigned to musical passages. For instance there is a song that is entitled The Faster We Go the Rounder We Get and another called Quadiblet for Tender Feet. These latter seems to have Phil's personality stamped all over it.

Suffice to say though that Alligator is a treat. This is an acid rock classic. The song part is catchy and the jam is always aggressive and old school. I think I heard that Phil brought this song back, he's good like that. I hope they did it justice.

Alligator Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.5

Disclaimer: This is part of my review of every Grateful Dead song from A-Z. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion (and be sure to read my blog manifesto to understand a little more about where I'm coming from).

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