Grateful Dead: Terrapin Station (2024 Vinyl Reissue) (Rhino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, February 29th, 2024  

Grateful Dead

Terrapin Station (2024 Vinyl Reissue)


Feb 06, 2024 Web Exclusive
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It’s widely acknowledged that the late ‘70s wasn’t the best era for Grateful Dead studio albums. Not that the band was exactly known for its studio work anyway. Still, 1970 saw Grateful Dead’s studio peak with the release of the two classics, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, and even into the mid-70s, the band was firing on all cylinders, with 1973’s Wake of the Flood and 1975’s Blues for Allah showcasing some of the band’s best tracks and most lively extended pieces.

By 1977’s Terrapin Station, however, the band was losing steam. Keith and Donna Godchaux were nearing the end of their tenure with the band. The Dead had chosen to sign with a major label, Arista, for the album and also chose an outside producer for the first time in many years, something that history has judged with mixed results. Still, if one looks past the supremely regrettable version of “Dancin’ in the Streets,” Terrapin Station has enough redeeming qualities to prevent its relegation to the bargain bin and ultimately justify this spectacular sounding remastered vinyl reissue.

“Estimated Prophet” starts the album, cementing itself as a classic that the band would frequently visit live, and the Rev. Gary Davis cover, “Samson and Delilah,” grooves like only Grateful Dead can. An interesting aside, Donna Godchaux’s “Sunrise” is an outlier in the band’s catalog, all big orchestra and swooning vocals sung entirely by Godchaux herself. The band only performed it a handful of times (well, given the Dead’s live proclivity, anything less than 50 probably qualifies as a handful), and the song remains a curio of sorts. And Phil Lesh’s “Passenger” is as straight ahead rock and roll as the Grateful Dead attempted, no stone cold classic but lively regardless.

The second side of Terrapin Station finds the band once again ending its album with a multi-part suite, much as it did on Blues for Allah and Wake of the Flood before it, this time the song being the album’s title track. Unfortunately, “Terrapin Station” is no “Blues for Allah” or “Weather Report Suite.” But compared to what came on albums to follow, it would do just fine.

By 1981, the band stripped itself bare for the acoustic Reckoning, and, of course, by 1987 it had reinvigorated itself with its hit single “Touch of Grey.” Terrapin Station, while uneven, didn’t exactly represent the beginning of the end for Grateful Dead. Not that its fans would ever have let that happen. ( (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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