Blues for Allah
The mid-'70s were a time of great creativity for the members of The Grateful Dead, both within the group and on solo ventures. They enjoyed a brief hiatus from the road as they assembled this fine album, which also benefitted from the return of second drummer Mickey Hart and his exotic rhythms and techniques. The break from touring meant the players were hungry to get their kicks playing together once again. The opening cuts—"Help On the Way/Slipknot," "Franklin's Tower," and "King Solomon's Marbles"—reflect that excitement with some of the group's finest studio play, as keyboardist Keith Godchaux indulges his interests in jazz to great effect. Bob Weir's "The Music Never Stopped" oddly enough comes closer to the slick '70s studio work of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. "Crazy Fingers" dips the rhythms into reggae. Weir's "Sage & Spirit" captures the beauty of the band's bucolic, acoustic side, with Steven Schuster's flute adding the right touch.