Die, You Ungrateful Bastards

28 Jun

In the never-ending quest to counter unfounded insults & criticisms levelled at THE GRATEFUL DEAD (and in firm solidarity with the sentiment behind a grip of recent posts by Nazz “Pigpen” Nomad), I give you the first in what you can bet will be A SERIES OF KIND REVIEWS aimed at SETTING YOUR PUNY HEADS STRAIGHT.

May Jerry’s guitar haunt your subconscious forever, as it does mine. First up on the chopping block is


Truckin’ Up To Buffalo: July 4, 1989 (Rhino Records, 2005)

(Yeah maybe not the one you’d pick first but fuck you too, you don’t ever really LISTEN to these guys/gals anyway. Truth be known I, too, HATED the DEAD in ’89 – oh, with a burning passion! – but hey, we all make mistakes, right?)

OK. So:

You’re stuck in Hermosa Beach, CA on a weeknight, and you don’t fucking know nobody or give a shit about any of it, except you know you want a drink and wouldn’t mind if it were down near the ocean. If only to get a better handle on this whole overhyped, emptyheaded, West Coast faux-culture thing.

And so: you roll down to the beach and troll for a friendly-looking bar. And there really ain’t one that looks right, but . . . after paying 8 bucks for parking, you finally end up on a not-uncomfortable barstool just off Pier Ave., next to an overly-tan, stringy-hair fella who’s sipping a rum and Coke, wearing flip-flops, and grinning like a mutherfucker. Riiiiight. So you order a Maitai – it seems expensive, but hey what the fuck – it comes in a commemorative Hermosa Pier glass that you get to keep! – so you don’t complain. You just drink.

After a while a band starts up off in the corner. It’s a bunch of old men with beef jerky for skin, wearing Hawaiian shirts and mirror shades and beaded necklaces – and it’s like this folky, out-of-tune rock-lite nonsense, the kinda shit you peed on in high school. The keyboardist – with his bogus synthwashes and overplaying – man, he is fucking it all up, royally. He’s just . . . shit.

But as you drink a bit more, you start to reassess the situation.

Ok, so:

The one Mexican-looking dude can actually play a bit of guitar. Not what you’d ever play, but whatever. He’s got his own thing happening, definitely.

The other main guy is at least singing like he MEANS it, which is very cool.

The slow, easy-paced songs seem kinda calculated to please the baby-boomer element in the bar. But these guys are adding extended instrumental breaks and stretching everything out – taking the tunes elsewhere, far far away . . . it’s a neat sensation, listening to these songs bend/fold out in all these little unexpected directions.

Yeah these old boys are definitely taking some chances, following the sound up all manner of sidestreets and alleyways. Sometimes failing miserably, but occasionally . . . ditching convention and floating right on out there . . . going for broke, hell even going for FREE . . . ok well maybe not free, but at the very least these fellas are pushing things in ways shitty bar bands – hell, MOST bands – never, ever have the balls to do. There is no denying this.

And after a few more Maitais (3 to be exact), it all starts making a twisted form of sense. I mean, here you are, it’s a weeknight in this stupid beach town, in stupid SoCal, the drinks are watered down something fierce and the creep next to you is still grinning his maniacal grin . . . but these old fuckers are definitely on to something wiiiiiide open, doing it in real time not unlike . . . well, shit, not unlike instrumental BLACK FLAG once were too, and probably just down the street from here. And though it’s long over, that bogus hippie dream underlying all this – in the end you can’t resist grinning back at the stringy-haired dude next to you, and raising your glass to em all (even the annoying, way-too-far-up-in-the-mix keyboard player), toasting them once before they croak. Cause tonight: they deserve it.

And TRUCKIN’ UP TO BUFFALO? Well, it’s more or less THIS GOOD.




3 Responses to “Die, You Ungrateful Bastards”

  1. nazz nomad June 29, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    Guess that’s why my liver hurts!

    Hey, what did the Deadhead say when the drugs wore off?

    – “This music sucks”! –

  2. mrowster June 30, 2007 at 12:01 pm #

    Well I woulda rechristened you in honour of my fave GD member . . . but NAZZ “Donna Godchaux” NOMAD sounded a little too weird.

  3. Joe July 1, 2007 at 1:57 pm #


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