Oct 31, 2018

October 4, 1970: Winterland Arena


The Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, plus their satellite groups, Hot Tuna and the New Riders of the Purple Sage, will appear as the first attractions in a new series of popular music concerts at Winterland, Oct. 4-5.
"Winterland Presents," co-ordinated and supervised by Harold Copeland and produced by Paul Baratta (one-time Fillmore staffer), plans to present regular shows throughout the winter and spring seasons.
[list of coming attractions]
With a new stage, lighting, and sound arrangements, tickets at $3.50, and substantial financial backing, the Winterland Presents series promises to provide full-scale competition to the Fillmore West offerings and to expand the San Francisco rock-entertainment scene considerably.

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 16 September 1970)


KQED deserves a big, big round of applause for last night’s 4-hour (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) show and lively coverage of the Winterland Rock Show – with the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. All kinds of kudos go to producer Larry Armstrong and director Duncan McKelvey. Their on-the-site sound-and-color mix was fittingly dove-tailed to the product.

(from Dwight Newton's TV column, the San Francisco Examiner, 5 October 1970)


The new rock-show operation at Winterland Arena couldn't have chosen a surer sellout program than the triumvirate of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
And much to the delight of producer Paul Baratta, all expectations were realized both Sunday and last night. The place was jammed with about 6000 fans each evening - enthusiastic, happy, hot, tired, friendly fans of the three famous "old original" San Francisco bands.
Musically things went pretty much according to tradition. Grace Slick of the Airplane and Dino Valenti (who now dominates Quicksilver) were the only two strong and steady singers on stage. Bob Weir of the Dead is also a good one, when his colleagues don't clutter up the background.
The Airplane's vocalist Marty Balin was erratic and out of sorts Sunday and did not show last night. He is a distinctive singer and remarkably fine interpreter of lyrics. But Balin lately has had to shout more than sing.
Perhaps his closing lines Sunday night, "I need a new band," were, indeed, prophetic.
The Dead's instrumental ensemble is now at its all-time best, but their lack of memorable singing hurts their general presentation. Conversely it is the Airplane's sluggish ensemble, which takes half a set to really get going, that causes the group's problems.
But none of this is new -- these things have been true for a long time.
Quicksilver has lost its old thing by becoming essentially Valenti's accompanists. And their new big brass and reed section just compounds the difficulties of trying to keep some of the good old sounds.
Those who came to hear the last show by the old Quicksilver were disappointed at Winterland. What they got, instead, was the beginning of the new, not the last of the old.
A new giant stage has been built in the arena at the end opposite the entry, at the point where the Ice Follies annually mount their various acts. And a huge, superbly directed, sound system has been erected.
Rear-projected light shows splash their stuff on a big scrim which hangs above the stage.
Everything was working this weekend, no major problems in the whole operation.
But Baratta still had a worried look of concern on his tired face. Late yesterday he received word from England that his headliner on October 16-17, the immensely talented and popular singer Dave Mason, has had to cancel because of emigration problems.

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 6 October 1970)

* * *


Sardine-packed longhair music freaks jammed Winterland Sunday for the first revival of the three original San Francisco acid rock groups -- Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Hundreds arrived hours early and pitched camp around the old ice-skating rink to be sure to get the $3.50 tickets. Funky trucks, psychedelic buses, and painted and decrepit cars filled every parking space for blocks around.
Sunday night Bill Graham's prodigal partner was turning them away from the door -- not out of humanitarian impulse so everyone inside could breathe, but because there was literally no more space to pack them in. Greed is limited only by necessity.
The music did its job. The Dead's Jerry Garcia plucked away our time, Jack Cassidy looked like he had a narrow lead over Grace Slick in their race towards decadence, Quicksilver put on quite a show. The stage was lighted like a crucible, and the shoulder-to-jaw crowd all faced towards it like sunflowers facing the sun.
And the whole thing was projected into your livingroom, Mr. & Mrs. America, through the marvels of modern electronics. Two radio stations (KQED-fm and KSAN) and a TV station (Channel 9) carried the show live Sunday in quadrisonic -- each radio station carrying two tracks. The first for head culture was sponsored by Pacific Stereo, who bought the time on KSAN who in turn paid the expenses of the broadcast for the "non-commercial" KQED TV and FM. All of this was to tell us that our stereos are obsolete and that we now have to buy quadriplex sound systems. (This is known as planned obsolescences. The record manufacturers are taking their cue from Detroit.)
It was kind of sad to see in one way. Here were the same musicians from in the beginning. Here were many of the same people as in the beginning, plus thousands who had joined along the way, having those same new/old experiences -- community, trusting everyone enough to pass joints openly as a matter of course, realizing membership.
And here was the same rooting pig, packing in as many as fire regulations allowed, hiring moonlighting San Francisco policemen to keep the crowd "under control." The only novelty was the American flag with the peace symbol instead of the field of stars they wore on breast pockets, goading people along with their flashlights. No standing around in the lobby; move along, cummon, keep movin.
It's actually lost ground. The pig has mastered the subculture. Crowd control, as in mace and beanbag shooters, has been replaced by culture control, as in Vortex One and KSAN. Reds are more popular now, same with wine and smack.
When the Dead started to wail on Good Lovin' and the rhythms got tighter and tighter like spiral watchsprings, people screamed, uncoiled. Grace Slick (a first for educational TV) says, "You want your fuckin' music? You'll get your fuckin' music."
Jimi Hendrix died in his own vomit and Janis Joplin died of a smack OD. You won't get their music anymore.

(by csm & snag, from the San Francisco Good Times, 9 October 1970)

* * *


The sounds and sights of Winterland in our very own bedroom. Far fucking out!
The Quick, the Dead, and the Airplane. Live and on stage, all playing long sets. Beautiful music in quadraphonic sound. Sound like you hear standing next to the amplifiers.
No $3.50 at the door. No lines. No packing in more people than the hall could handle. No muss. No fuss.
Now we can offer the excitement of a hippy/rock/be-in/concert/orgy/dance/happening in the privacy of your very own home. No salesman will call on you. If not absolutely delighted, return to straight society within 10 minutes and get a refund with no questions asked.

In 1966 the ballrooms were just starting. At Chet's Avalon Ballroom strange things were happening.
The Grateful Dead would play "Midnight Hour" for a half hour or more. Pigpen sang, really getting into it. And hundreds of people - practically everyone in the hall - would JOIN HANDS and dance to exhaustion.
It happened several times, I can't describe how it felt, what it did for our heads.
"One of these nights we're going to dance out of here, into the streets, and get the whole city of San Francisco to join us. We'll turn the whole city on," Buddha said one night.
But that was four years ago. If it happened, I missed it.

The Sunday TV/radio broadcast must have taken a lot of energy. Having to go through endless hassles with sponsors and network executives and all that shit. Probably months of hard work by people trying to create something beautiful.
But for many of us it was the wrong show at the wrong time. A couple of weeks after Jimi Hendrix died - in London (why London?). The SAME NIGHT Janis Joplin died - in Hollywood (why Hollywood?). A time when people are shaken by their deaths and wondering if maybe something's wrong with the rock music culture.
And then this show ("Instant Karma's gonna hit you in the face") that makes you wonder even more. Despite all the hard work, despite the music, it was a bummer for many.
Part of it was the medium. A painting, record, or newspaper only hits one of your senses. TV hits several, almost giving you the impression that you're THERE. But you aren't, you're detached from their reality. It's an illusion.
Another problem was that the cameras were backstage. And backstage is where all the groupies - male and female - hang out. The hangers-on.
A lot of it was the disc jockeys. Dusty Street being so trippy with all the Beautiful (Hip) People. Saying "man" every sentence. Saying nothing. Coming on about as liberated as the women's section of the Oakland Tribune.
The other disc jockey - some dude named Ginger Man - was even worse. He had the following conversation with a young WHITE woman:
G.M.: Are you a Black Panther?
G.M.: Do you believe in violent revolution?
G.M.: Outtasite!
When a Tribe brother broke the string of "farouts" and "outtasites" by rapping on Bobby Seale on the air, Ginger Man picked up his microphone and ran his racist ass off.
He and Dusty were constantly reminding us what a great time everyone was having. As if we couldn't see and hear the laughs, joints, beer, smiles, "fucks" and "shits," wine, and shouts liberating the airwaves. The constant hype of the announcers somehow made it all seem hollow.
But the worst thing for me - the unforgivable thing - was the way Janis was ignored. The announcers were talking up this new promoter who used to work for Bill Graham. They talked about how he was bringing back the great old days of the San Francisco Scene.
How the three bands - Dead, Quicksilver, and Airplane - were back at Winterland. How everyone was grooving just like they used to in the Summer of Love. But Jimi and Janis were playing Winterland back then too! AND THE PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE WEREN'T EVEN TOLD THAT JANIS WAS DEAD.
The rumor spread among some people backstage. Ginger Man on TV asked, "What's happening to our rock stars?", not really wanting an answer. But no one told the masses in the audience about it.
It would have just been BAD VIBES. And they'd hear about it the next day anyway. And why ruin their fun (and our show)? And they didn't really NEED to know, did they?

We should be together.
- Jefferson Airplane

Together doesn't JUST mean 5,000 people jammed into Winterland. Or 300,000 people watching rock murder and mayhem at Altamont. Or even 1,000,000 people digging the same TV show. That's just a step.
Dig it. The promoters (of all sorts) are, more or less, cynical. The audiences are passive, steeped in blind faith. The performers are, ultimately, all alone. That's not together.
I'd like to hold hands with my sisters and brothers, and dance all night. That's another step. Our life's too fine. And we should - must - be together.

(by Rick, from the Berkeley Tribe, 9 October 1970)

* * *

A couple excerpts on Janis:


... I heard about her death at the re-opening of Winterland, up in 'Frisco. For the first time in a long time the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Quicksilver Messenger Service were going to be on the same bill. KQED, the educational TV station, was telecasting the concert live and in color, and some of the radio stations were simulcasting the event in stereo. The Dead had just done an incredibly together set when the rumor started. I checked UPI, and found it was true. Four years I knew her. Until Sunday that seemed a long time.
Others had checked the story, and by the time I got backstage everyone knew. The reaction of Janis Joplin's fellow 'Frisco musicians was for some reason the same as if they had received a weather report. None of the groups at Winterland shed a tear for Janis that night. They just really didn't grasp its meaning. A publicist for one of them thought it was a great third act, funny, told me to forget about it.
I left the hall and went to a house to watch on TV the event I'd just left.
A friend's face flashed on the screen. He was asked by some do-gooder from NET about the prevalence of drugs and death in rock and roll. He couldn't have been talking about Janis Joplin. He was just talking about someone who OD'd at the Landmark -- but not Janis.
Janis Joplin died on a Sunday, alone, too high in an impersonal motel room. ...

(by John Carpenter, from the Los Angeles Free Press, 16 October 1970)

from JORMA KAUKONEN (interview)

JORMA: We did the thing at Winterland last weekend when Janis died and all these people were saying "gosh it's really shitty, why don't you say something about Janis dying and all that stuff?" I felt that was antithetical to the idea of what everybody playing there was trying to do; which essentially was to have a good time and to have the people that were there have a good time. It's really a great trip, you're all messed up on something or other, and someone says "so and so just died, what a drag." They lay a heavy rap on you. Who needs it? You can read the paper. Why lay it on people at a time when they are supposed to be feeling good? BB King says all that shit better than I do. I really like the way he talks - he's talking about the blues and he says you're playing blues to forget about feeling bad, not to feel bad. That's pretty much the way it is.

(from the Door, San Diego, 22 October 1970)

See also:

* * *

Bonus article on the 8/30/70 "Calebration" broadcast on KPIX:

7:30 K-101 (101.3); KCBS (740) - Calabration: Second four channel stereo broadcast with television featuring the Grateful Dead Quick Silver and Swamp Dogg.
("Sunday FM Highlights," SF Examiner 8/30/70)

The Grateful Dead will perform along with the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Swamp Dogg on "Calebration," tonight at 7:30 on Channel 5. To receive the full impact of the music, a viewer should have not only a television set but two FM-stereo receivers.

Television Broadcast Tonight!
Quicksilver Messenger Service - The Grateful Dead - The Swamp Dogg - tonight at 7:30 on Channel 5, with 4-channel stereo on K101 and KCBS-FM, brought to you by Lafayette stores and TEAC quadrasonic recorders. See the broadcast tonight, hear the 4-channel sound track recorded on the TEAC TCA-42 at any Lafayette Bay Area store all this coming week.
(two more notices from the 8/30/70 SF Examiner) 


Back in '66 when I started goin' to rock concerts, the greatest possible event was a "Quick and the Dead" concert. We'd load up on weed in the car, pay Chet or Bill some money, go in, and trip, sing, scream, and dance for five or six hours. It was the ultimate rock orgasm.
If you'd told me four years ago that the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service would someday star in a "special" on Channel five, I'd have thought you insane. After all, it was underground culture, too fuckin' wild for the TV creeps.
But there they were on the Tube Sunday night with Swamp Dogg and Jerry Abrams' Headlights. And it was outtasite! Pigpen on prime time TV!
Strange changes have come down. When the bands first started playin', it was music for dropouts. Now the businessmen are using it to convince us to drop back IN!
To enjoy the show in all the glory of its quadroponic sound, you needed a small arsenal of stereo equipment. Several radios and a color TV arranged in a circle around you, according to the demonstration. We made do with a black and white TV and a table radio -- and thought we were well off.
The program was "brought to you by" the maker of quadroponic tape machine. They explained the stereo would soon be obsolete, but for "only $695" we can prepare for the quadroponic future. And then we'll enjoy aural orgasms for ever more. At least until Pentagonic sound makes EVERYTHING obsolete.
Of course, some of us dropouts might not have $695. So there was a commercial urging us to check out our local schools for coursers in computer programming, etc. Then we could drop IN during the day to make our $695 and drop OUT at night with our Super Sound System. Sorta like schizoid behavior under the banner of psychedelic capitalism.
Seems like the businessmen are getting a bit nervous. Like they can see that "Rock 'n' Roll is here to stay." But I don't think they're so sure about their economic system -- what will all this living and lack of consumer-consciousness. [sic] So they're tryin' to get a piece of the hippy action. Like Hugh Hefner (of Playboy, Pepsi Generation, and Sexist Pig fame) trying to buy Rolling Stone Magazine.
But there are some problems "getting these kids back in the system." 'Cause the pied pipers are pipin' the wrong tunes. On the program Quicksilver did a very heavy song of the need for revolution. "Whatcha gonna do about me?", they screamed, running down all that's wrong with Amerika. The song was directed against the "sponsors" among others, but I think Mr. Tapedeck D. Jones had his earphones on.
There's nothing about the joyous, maddening, black magical music of Quicksilver that could induce you to drop back in. There's nothing about the lifestyle of the Grateful Dead that makes you yearn for the air-conditioned sterility of a computer office. There's nothing in Jerry Abrams' flashing acid tinged lights that could make the monotony of bourgeois life look brighter.
So thanks for the show, "sponsors." I really enjoyed it, tripped the whole way. The Dead were right on time; Quicksilver crazed our already unstable minds; and Headlights put on the best light show I've seen -- even in black and white. So keep those shows comin'. They're mighty nice and I like the price.
[ . . . ]

(by Otis, from the Berkeley Tribe, 5 September 1970)


Oct 4, 2018

1970: More Workingman's Dead Reviews


My favorite pop rock heart throb group of musicians is the Grateful Dead. I first saw the Dead at a pre-peace march dance in Longshoremans Hall on April 9, 1967. I was fresh from New Jersey and I had never seen a light show, much less the Dead. They came on right after the Sopwith Camel, and they blew my mind; and it's been uphill ever since.
I was sitting eating pizza some time ago when this fellow said that nothing important had come out of the rock explosion. I turned around in my chair and made myself heard as I told him of the virtues of the most holy Grateful Dead. I dragged him to my home and sat him down in front of some enormous speakers and played Anthem of the Sun for him at very high volume. He shouted that they broke all the rules and then he wept as he said, "but it works."
My list of converts is long. I especially like the look on the faces of the people who can't believe that the Live/Dead album was really recorded live. I lean back, light up my four foot marigewana ceegar and explain that if they were to encounter these types in person the rest of their brains would be suitably shattered.
I've followed the Dead's encounter with the forces of capitalism with great interest. Many's the time that some experienced rock hustler would call me aside and say, "how can they expect to make money when they spend over $100,000 on one album. They'll never last, never!"
Ahhhhh but they have lasted, and each succeeding album converts more and more people, not to mention the hamsters. The Dead are the embodiment of the revolution. They live ("I don't know but I been told it's hard to run with the weight of gold.") with a lot of people, and they feed a lot of people, and no one who's ever been with the Dead has ever told a bad story about my pop rock idols.
The Dead have been party to every different type of rock and roll shuck and they've managed to weather them all and feed their family and make every new album. This one's the Workingman's Dead, a mindblower.
In fact they're so good that their good old (and it is a good) record company wouldn't let the Dead loose even if they sold maybe no records. Remember the Dead are the guys who told Billy Graham to fuck off when they were broke. Talk about soul.
The Dead fulfill a most marvelous vision of mine. They are a band which is highly blues and country influenced, which makes music which is exciting and good in terms of anybody's vision. The new album is more down home than anything except "Lovelight" on the Live/Dead album. The songs are sort of short for the Dead, and the words courtesy of Robert Hunter are super good.
"driving that train/
high on cocaine
Casey Jones you better watch your speed
trouble ahead
trouble behind
and you know that notion just crossed my mind."
That's the opening of Casey Jones. Here's the opening of Uncle John's Band:
Well the first days are the hardest days
don't you worry anymore
when life looks like easy street
there is danger at your door
think this through with me
let me know your mind
what I want to know is all you'll find  [sic]
The combination of Garcia/Lesh and Hunter is working out and very well. The Workingman's Dead is the finest example of this work, and I hope it's a portent of things to come.
I need some energetic Dead freak to maybe do a service for all mankind. Like sit down with all your Dead albums, and gather the lyrics of all their original songs so that some other revolutionary can print them up and give them out free and thereby give the revolution some good songs. The Dead's songs make you think and are very educational.
This latest example leans heavily on the country roots of the Dead, and I'm sure, on the New Riders of the Purple Sage. That's a mystery for those of you who don't know what that is. The songs are real down to earth. They talk about whatever you like. I find a lot of revolution in the songs; other people may find other things. It'll be in your local ripoff record store in a few weeks, but first a message about local ripoff record stores. There are a few record stores that are run by the people and for the people, like Leopolds in the East Bay and the New Geology Rock Shop in the Haight. Like dig it when the White Front throws a sale the capitalists cry crocodile tears as they rip off the people's cash money. Like Leopolds et al is the best we got till the people own the entire means of production. Also if you know of other records stores that are in the interest of the people, drop a line.
"One way or another, this darkness has got to end." (New Speedway Boogie, by the Grateful Dead on the Workingman's Dead) Dig it.

[The rest of the article reviews Spider John Koerner's Running Jumping Standing Still album.]

(by Sam Silver, from the San Francisco Express Times, 29 May 1970)

* * *

WORKINGMAN'S DEAD, The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros. WS1869

The Dead only know how to get better. This new album captures perfectly the unique craftsmanship they exhibit so effortlessly in concert. They offer several exceptional cuts ("Uncle John's Band," "Dire Wolf," "Casey Jones"), and there isn't a disappointing note on the LP. Even the use of two or more drummers on several of the cuts doesn't intrude on the basic gentleness that is the core of all their recent work. It's music that should be lived with, rather than simply listened to. (And are those really old Sanford Clark licks on "New Speedway Boogie"?)

(from "Recent Releases," the Madison Kaleidoscope, 1 June 1970)

* * *

GROUP GROUP  (excerpt)

Speaking of live and free, the Grateful Dead have a new record out. Now, the Dead are a live band if there ever was one. And they used to play for free pretty often too.
The magical band. The Acid Test band. THE San Francisco band. And - on a good night - the highest of the high.
But they've never got it down on a record. Some tracks on "Live Dead" came close, particularly "Love Light." And "Viola Lee Blues" with that stratospheric jam on the first record. In fact, every album has good music on it. But they've never captured the magic.
Sadly, this one is no exception. "Workingman's Dead" is the most "country" of their albums. But it's constipated. Despite impeccable musicianship, it drags like a 300lb. bag of pure country cowshit.
The first cut is downright embarrassing. Thought it was Crosby, Stills, ad infinitum at first. But I soon realized that, despite the whining, the musicians were too good, too tight, and too together to be C.S.N.&Y. Inc.
But it still wasn't the Grateful Dead.

(from the Berkeley Tribe, 19 June 1970)

* * *


Ah, a new Grateful Dead album - Working Man's Dead. The Dead generally have had a hard time getting together in the recording studio. Their recording history has sort of paralleled the Airplane's - the bands are close. First albums were very tight and cramped, just hints of the freedom and life and beauty of the live performance. Successive albums - Bathing at Baxters, Crown of the Sun [sic] were mixtures of live and studio recordings, and Crown of Creation and AOXOMOXOA were back in the studios. Then came live albums - Bless Its Pointed Little Head and Live Dead which were finally definitive of the power and majesty of the band's potential. Then the Airplane with the help of a few friends made Volunteers, their best studio album. Quicksilver Messenger Service has gone the same route, only internal hassles in the band made their last studio album untogether - dominated by Nicky Hopkins and not enough Quicksilver. So where were the Dead going?
I couldn't imagine anything following Live Dead. The music there is free, easy, loud, soft, fast, slow, beautiful and terrifying - the Grateful Dead live.
What happened was the Dead got themselves together - having found out they could put their music on a record after all - and put down very easy and flowing in the best Dead style sketches of 8 songs.
Most are songs I remember from being freaked out in giant concerts waiting for the Dead and they come out and do magic and start playing and Christ there's the Dead man real fucking people up there playing so cool so easy flying high and it's no longer a freaked out pop concert as the Dead take us out of the giant cement arenas in 20th century Amerika and into the magical acid world of the Grateful Dead.
But these aren't live versions of the songs as each could be as a side of an album like the songs on Live Dead, but they are sketched skeleton metaphor of the songs live as just the bare essentials of the song are there, but are there so easily and you don't expect a live performance or Live Dead because it's Working Man's Dead - a record.

(from the Rag (Austin, TX), 22 June 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead album, Workingman's Dead, is a tribute to a generation. That generation is the Beat Generation, with its pot, its music, its drinking, singing, and most of all, its love of life. The Beats wanted to grasp life as one would a goblet of wine, and then drink it down lustily, so they lived fast, played hard, and never stopped searching for fresh horizons, fresh thrills, and fresh meanings in their world. Out of the storm of the Beat Generation came William Burroughs, Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. And with Kesey came the Grateful Dead.
The Dead have been around for a long time - they put out the original underground album in 1965 - and yet each album reveals a different musical idea. "Workingman's Dead" is unlike anything else the Dead have ever done. Gone is the feedback, the loud, screeching guitar riffs, the shouted vocals and inexact harmonies of previous LPs. Instead, one finds a series of low-volume arrangements where the words themselves come across and capture the listener's attention. The lyrics are varied in subject matter, ranging from humorous to philosophical to frightening, but there is no variety in their quality. All the songs are outstanding in their ability to tell a tale without sacrificing the quality of the music itself.
It is an album of poetry put to music, true, but to the Dead, music has always been first in importance. Much of the guitar work is acoustical, so that the vocals, the highlight of the disc, stand out. "Uncle John's Band" gives a fine description of what music really is to the Dead. It is playing with the folks that mean something to you just for the sake of getting together for a good time.
I live in a silver mine / and I call it Beggars Tomb
I've got me a violin / and I beg you call the tune.
Anybody's choice / Let me hear your voice
Wo, ho and I want to know / How does the song go?
"Cumberland Blues", "Casey Jones," and "Easy Wind" deal with the kinds of jobs the Beats usually ended up holding - common labor that paid just enough so they could enjoy life in their own way. These jobs allowed them to work without the responsibilities of better paying positions, for when one of them decided to up and leave for a while, it was easy to quit such a job.
Been ballin' that shiny black steel jack hammer
Been breakin' up rocks for the great highway
I'll live five years if I take my time
Ballin' that jack and drinkin' my wine.
The heroes that the Dead give us are again the common laborers. "Casey Jones", which is almost certainly a tribute to the late wildman Neil Cassidy, presents a fine portrait of the workingman-become-hero.
"Workingman's Dead" is a musical documentary of a generation, a poetic portrait of a unique way of life. This album has beautifully captured the Beat Scene. The Dead also have reached a peak of musicianship on this LP, as they finally bring everything together. Instrumentally, vocally, lyrically and creatively, this is their finest effort.

(by Dan Cook, from the Observer (Case Western Reserve U), 13 October 1970)

See also: