Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster
American Beauty is the sixth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between August and September 1970 and originally released in November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. The album continued the folk rock and country music explored on Workingman's Dead and prominently features the lyrics of Robert Hunter.
The band began recording American Beauty only a few months after the release of Workingman's Dead, and without their regular sound crew, which was out on the road as part of the Medicine Ball Caravan tour (which the Dead were originally scheduled to join), and this led to staff engineer Stephen Barncard replacing Bob Matthews as producer—"a move that irks Matthews to this day." Barncard mused that "I had heard bad stories about engineers' interactions with the Dead but what I found were a bunch of hardworking guys."
Both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock and roll, folk and, especially, country music. Compared to Workingman's Dead, American Beauty had even less lead guitar work from Jerry Garcia, who instead filled the void with pedal steel guitar passages on both albums. It was during the recording of this album that Garcia would first collaborate with mandolinist David Grisman. "I just bumped into Jerry at a baseball game in Fairfax, and he said, 'Hey, you wanna play on this record we're doing?'" commented Grisman.
Phil Lesh, in his autobiography, commented "the magnetism of the scene at Wally Heider's recording studio made it a lot easier for me to deal with Dad's loss and my new responsibilities. Some of the best musicians around were hanging there during that period; with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Santana, Crosby, Nash, and Neil Young working there, the studio became jammer heaven. Thank the Lord for music; it's a healing force beyond words to describe."
"Truckin'" and "Ripple" were released as singles, and the songs "Box of Rain", "Sugar Magnolia", and "Friend of the Devil" also received radio play. In his book on Garcia, Blair Jackson noted that "if you liked rock'n'roll in 1970 but didn't like the Dead, you were out of luck, because they were inescapable that summer and fall." American Beauty peaked at No. 30 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart (North America), while the single, "Truckin'", peaked at No. 64 on the Pop Singles chart and achieved considerable FM rock radio airplay. It was the final album with Mickey Hart until his return to the band four years later in 1975.
The title wording on the front cover is an ambigram; it can also be read as "American Reality". The artwork was produced by Mouse-Kelley Studios.
Andy Zwerling of Rolling Stone felt that the album was a continuation of Workingman's Dead, though there was more care and contentment in the singing, as well as the instrument playing being rich. Robert Christgau also compared the album favourably to Workingman's Dead, feeling it was "sweeter vocally and more direct instrumentally".
01. "Box of Rain" (Robert Hunter and Phil Lesh) – 5:18
02. "Friend of the Devil" (John Dawson, Jerry Garcia, and Hunter) – 3:24
03. "Sugar Magnolia" (Hunter and Bob Weir) – 3:19
04. "Operator" (Ron McKernan) – 2:25
05. "Candyman" (Garcia and Hunter) – 6:14
06. "Ripple" (Garcia and Hunter) – 4:09
07. "Brokedown Palace" (Garcia and Hunter) – 4:09
08. "Till the Morning Comes" (Garcia and Hunter) – 3:08
09. "Attics of My Life" (Garcia and Hunter) – 5:12
10. "Truckin'" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh, and Weir) – 5:03
11. "Truckin'" (Single Edit) (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh, and Weir) – 3:17
"Friend of the Devil" (Live – May 15, 1970 at Fillmore East in New York City) (Dawson, Garcia, and Hunter) – 4:21
12. "Candyman" (Live – April 15, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) (Garcia and Hunter) – 5:18
"Till the Morning Comes" (Live – October 4, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) (Garcia and Hunter) – 3:20
13. "Attics of My Life" (Live – June 6, 1970 at Fillmore West in San Francisco) (Garcia and Hunter) – 6:31
"Truckin'" (Live – December 26, 1970 at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, Los Angeles, California) (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh, and Weir) – 10:10
14. "Ripple" (Single Version) (Garcia and Hunter) – 3:02
American Beauty radio promo – 1:11
The final two tracks are unlisted. The "American Beauty Promo" is a radio commercial promoting the release of this album.