Day of the Dead: Various Artists

day of the deadDay of the Dead
Various Artists

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The musical influence of a band like The Grateful Dead is immense, but the new, colossal, 59-song Day of the Dead compilation gives a sense of it’s real reach. It was produced by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, who have two songs included on the album themselves. It features Grateful Dead covers from a diverse group including bandmates Bob Weir, who joined Wilco, The National and Bruce Hornsby to newer indie bands like Real Estate and The Tallest Man on Earth.

There is a wonderful range of song interpretations, from the familiar to total reinventions, which gives the album a real sonic diversity and sets it apart from any cover compilation in recent history. Some of the highlights include a surprising, stripped-down version of “Friend of the Devil” by
Mumford & Sons, Bela Fleck’s earthy “Help on the Way,” a melodic, 80’s radio rendition of “Touch of Grey” by The War On Drugs, Stephen Malkmus’ “China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider” jam, a crazy noise-based reinvention of “Truckin’” by Marijuana Deathsquads, a bright, chill take on “Sugaree” by Phosphorescent and Jenny Lewis & Friends, and a version of “Terrapin Station (Suite)” by So Percussion and other various artists that turns into and redefines the classic jam.

This is not even mentioning interesting covers by The Flaming Lips, Ed Droste, Jim James, The Walkmen, Hiss Golden Messenger, Local Natives, The Lone Bellow, Charles Bradley, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Lucius, and mega Dead Head Lee Ranaldo. True Dead Heads might well have a love/hate relationship with the album, but musically it delivers some really inventive cover versions of classic Grateful Dead songs and might be an interesting introduction for new, younger fans.

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About Tim Needles

Tim Needles is an artist, photographer, humorist, and writer from Long Island, NY. His writing and art work has been seen in multiple exhibitions and publications around New York as well as the Photographer’s Forum, French Photo, the New York Times, and LI Pulse magazine. He is also an educator and currently teaches art and film at Smithtown, NY and as an Education Leader for Adobe. He was recently the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Award in Washington DC and serves as the director of Strictly Students, a non-for-profit group for media and education. His work can be seen on his website: www.timneedles.com
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