|First posted 4/6/2008; updated 12/3/2020.|
Released: November 1, 1970
Charted: December 12, 1970
Peak: 19 US, -- UK, -- CN, 34 AU
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US
Genre: folk rock/jam band
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
* live version of song from 1981’s live album, Reckoning
Total Running Time: 42:21
4.661 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
American Beauty, the fifth studio album from the Grateful Dead, can be considered “a companion piece to the luminous Workingman's Dead,” AMG the album released by the group earlier that year. Both albums “were innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock and roll, folk, and especially, country music.” WK “American Beauty is an even stronger document of the Grateful Dead’s return to their musical roots” AMG The sound was “focused more on folk harmonies and major-key melodies, showing influence from Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.” WK
Drummer Bill Kreutzmann said “the singers in our band really learned a lot about harmonizing” WK from CSNY. He explained that the two group’s “circles overlapped,” WK noting that singer Jerry Garcia had played pedal steel on CSNY’s Déjà Vu album that year and that Stephen Stills had lived at the Dead percussionist Mickey Hart’s ranch. WK
“Thanks to the addition of subtle electric textures,” AMG this album sports “a more full-bodied and intricate sound than its predecessor.” AMG While the previous album was written solely by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, this one is “more representative of the group as a collective unit, allowing for stunning contributions from Phil Lesh (the poignant opener, Box of Rain) and Bob Weir (Sugar Magnolia).” AMG
Garcia is “at the top of his game as well…[as he] delivers the superb Friend of the Devil…and Ripple.” AMG Both songs also represent Garcia’s first collaborations with with mandolin player David Grisman, especially the latter. WK
The album closes with Truckin’, “a blues/boogie-based rock tune with a shuffle rhythm.” WK While it only peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100, “the autobiographical song became the one most associated with the band, and their track most commonly played on FM radio classic rock formats.” WK
The album as a whole became iconic in the band’s live performances as eight of the ten tracks remained in their setlist throughout their history. WK “American Beauty remains the Dead’s studio masterpiece – never again would they be so musically focused or so emotionally direct.” AMG
Notes: The 2001 Rhino reissue added eight more songs, mostly live, but also single versions of “Truckin’” and “Ripple.” A 50h anniversary deluxe edition added a two-disc live set from Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York.
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