Go to Heaven

Go to Heaven

Donna Jean Godchaux and Keith Godchaux left the band, keyboardist Brent Mydland signed on, and The Grateful Dead recorded this underrated album at the start of the '80s. The questionable "disco" moves and harsh blues of Shakedown Street were replaced with a warmer sound truer to the band's live persona, with songs that were easily plugged into the Dead's setlists. The revved-up Chuck Berry rock 'n' roll of "Alabama Getaway" went to FM radio, while Mydland made his presence known by writing two songs: the soulful "Far From Me" and the soft-rocking "Easy to Love You," which would still make a great tune for Crosby, Stills & Nash. (Like much of the material here, that was cowritten with John Perry Barlow.) "Althea" is Garcia and Robert Hunter's one powerful and understated composition, while Bob Weir and Barlow throw together three decent contributions in "Feel Like a Stranger," "Lost Sailor," and "Saint of Circumstance." Bringing things full circle is "Don't Ease Me In," which plays like a classic ensemble piece. And it should; the Dead first played the tune back in 1965 when they were still The Warlocks.

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