Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hell in a Bucket - Grateful Dead Song Review

Everything works about this song, Hell in a Bucket is Grateful Dead magic.

This song came out in the mid 80's when a lot of bands from the Grateful Dead era were putting out some real garbage  (hello Starship "We Built This City" and Neil Young "rockabilly and electronica experimentation"). In fact, the entire music world was generally putting out crappy music during the greedy Reagan era. Hell in a Bucket might have never been a radio worthy track but who cares? It rocked the opening to many shows.

I like that Brent is credited for the music (along with Bobby of course), and the enigmatic John Perry Barlow penned the words.  Some of the lines seem "groan worthy," but as a whole it really works.

The spirit of this line:

There may come a day I will dance on your grave
If unable to dance I will crawl

reminds me of the rebellious and humorous spirit embodied in songs like Saint of Circumstance and Touch of Grey (which is the opening track that precedes Hell in a Bucket on In the Dark).

Hell in a Bucket is very consistent and a great opener.  Jerry would usually play incredibly great (and fast) on Hell in a Bucket, and then as soon as it's over -  it's Jerry's turn to pick a song so Bucket sets up a strong 1st set by priming Jerry for an energetic and well played 2nd song.

There's some great tunes that comprise the group of songs the Grateful Dead regularly opened with: Jack Straw, Mississippi Half Step, Touch of Grey, etc.  In my opinion Hell in a Bucket holds it's own with these.

I've included a live performance video below from a show that I was actually at - Las Vegas, Sunday June 26th, 1994. This video brings back great memories from that night.  I believe this is the exact a feed from the video screens the Dead used on that tour - and some very creative intermingling of footage can be seen.

There's an "MTV" style music video for this song, do yourself a favor and DO NOT seek it out.  You will be disappointed.

Hell in a Bucket Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.3

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion.

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