Grateful Dead - American Beauty LP

(Warner Bros., 1970 - Rhino, 2015)

“Five albums into what was shaping up to be a commercially challenged — and progressively more debt-ridden — career, the Grateful Dead finally hit paydirt with 1970’s Workingman’s Dead, which gave them the first Top 40 record of their career. Less than six months later, they were back with another LP — and another hit.

American Beauty arrived Nov. 1, 1970, roughly five months after its predecessor — and like Workingman’s Dead, it found the band working quickly, adopting a far more cost-effective studio process than the laborious trek that had made 1969’s Aoxomoxoa such a costly recording.

As they had with Workingman’s Dead, the band took a more song-focused approach with American Beauty than they had on previous outings, turning in a relatively concise track listing consisting of 10 songs whose longest cut, “Candyman,” clocked in at a brief-by-Dead-standards 6:14.

The fact that their new sound was far more commercial wasn’t lost on the group. “For me,” once quipped guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia, “it was one of those things where I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life making records that are too f–ing weird for anybody to listen to.”

If anything, the blend the Grateful Dead stirred up for American Beauty proved even more potent than it had with Workingman’s Dead, producing a handful of songs (including “Box of Rain,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Friend of the Devil,” and the hit singles “Truckin'” and “Ripple”) that stood among the band’s finest.” - Jeff Giles for Ultimate Classic Rock