Music Review: Jerry Garcia, "Garcia Plays Dylan"
Release Date: October 25, 2005
by Dan Weltin
Published: October 25, 2005
Deadheads rejoice, Dylan fans beware.
The new posthumous compilation from Jerry Garcia, Garcia Plays Dylan, is a novelty gem for all fans of the Grateful Dead. However, for everyone else, it can be ignored.
Garcia and Bob Dylan were good friends and shared a similar taste in music. Garcia honored this friendship and Dylan's own music credentials by covering his songs extensively in concert. This two-disc set is comprised of live cuts mainly from the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band, and not only includes the hits ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Forever Young," and "Tangled Up in Blue"), but also dives deeper into Dylan's catalog with performances of "Tough Mama," "Senor" and "The Mighty Quinn."
Of course, when dealing with the Dead, jams are too be expected; hence only 15 tracks spanned over two discs. But itís a bit excessive that Dylan's three-minute "When I Paint My Masterpiece" clocks in at well over 10 minutes in the hands of Garcia
The biggest problem with this set is that all songs start to sound the same halfway through disc one. The majority of the songs chug along at the same crawl with Garcia's passionless, monotone voice laid over the top. At times the performances are so loose they could fall apart at any moment. The Legion of Mary's take on "Wicked Messenger" never really even comes together in the first place.
The songs that do work are the ones that get above that sluggish pace. "Tough Mama" is a barn-burner just like Dylan's original with The Band on Planet Waves. The Grateful Dead's electric version of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is a nice companion to Dylan's solo, acoustic original.
While it was a nice thought to be thorough with Garcia's performances of Dylan's songs, filling two discs is a bit overkill. This collection would be better suited scaled down to one disc of sure-fire performances.