Various Artists – Day of the Dead

various artists day of the deadThis is a complete tribute album at over five hours of music celebrating the catalogue of the Grateful Dead. Indie rock band the National got it in their heads that they wanted to do a tribute album for the legendary band and started working on making idea become reality. Instead of going the traditional route with artist/band selection they have selected some out of left field acts that in the end work. Falling into that category would be soul veteran Charles Bradley on “Cumberland Blues”, psychedelic pop outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra on “Shakedown Street” and art pop duo Lucius’s turn on “Uncle John’s Band”. They all bring something new to these songs and instead of falling flat on their faces they come out smelling like roses. This works probably due to the fact that the Grateful Dead tinkered with such a wide variety of sounds and influences that almost any band or act can grasp on to something they’ve done. Throughout their years together the Dead involved themselves in ambient, Afropop, psychedelia and roots. This led to many artists from different genres being influenced by the band and connecting with them. Artists with a more obvious affinity and who appear on the five disc compilation include Lucinda Williams (“Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”), Flaming Lips (“Dark Star”), Courtney Bartnett (“New Speedway Boogie”) and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Bruce Hornsby (“Black Muddy River”). Of course, Wilco and the National make appearances as well. As you can tell by the size of the album, the Dead catalogue is looked into deeply. With few eras or sounds not being explored. The result is a large and beautiful amount of music. The brothers Dressner worked four years on the album and the result is well worth their effort.

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