Monday, January 5, 2009

Althea - Grateful Dead Song Review


Ahhhh, Althea. Now I finally get to review a true Grateful Dead classic song. This is an incredible song that appeared on Go To Heaven and even more notably on the live CD Without a Net. I saw 'even more notably' because by the time Without a Net was recorded the song had really evolved into a ripping and soulful first set Jerry tune. A friend of mine once told me he was die hard into hip hop and metal until he heard Althea from Without a Net and that was the watershed moment that began his life as a Deadhead.

The intro is one of the more memorable Dead licks - an electric finger plucked outlining of the main chords that recurs throughout the song. Jerry's vocals about his interaction with Althea have a great swagger and humor to them. It really brings out Jerry and Robert Hunter's sense of humor with memorable lines like:

Althea told me "Now, Cool down Boy
Settle back, easy Jim"

or how about this one:

I told Althea I was a roving sign,
I wasn't born to be a bachelor
Althea told me, "okay that's fine"
Now I'm tryin' to catch her

Then this song also inevitably had a ripping solo and build up in it too (after "you know this space is getting hot"). An absolute classic first set song and really you couldn't ask for more than for Jerry to play this one in the first set (well, I guess you could hope for a Bird Song too, but that seems almost greedy).

Althea is a song that I will never, ever fast forward through. When it starts, it is going to play until it is finished.

Althea Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.4

: 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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