Grateful Dead: Wake of the Flood (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Grateful Dead/Rhino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 9th, 2023  

Grateful Dead

Wake of the Flood (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Grateful Dead/Rhino

Nov 15, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The 1973 album Wake of the Flood could be seen as the studio fount for a group of songs that became staples of Grateful Dead shows over the next couple of decades. However, much of the material had been road-tested for over half a year, with “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” having seen 40 performances since its stage debut in July of 1972, so it was probably no surprise to the band that they were able to record the bulk of the album in a mere nine days.

The 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Wake of the Flood looks back to a notable year for the Dead. Along with the impact of founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s death in March of ’73, the band formed their own record label, Grateful Dead Records, following the completion of their Warner Bros. contract. They also joined The Allman Brothers Band and The Band for the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen festival in New York before a crowd of 600,000 a month before recording in August. And for their first studio album since 1970’s American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead, the Dead crafted a series of songs that, while initially underrated, came to be seen as one of their most important releases.

Along with “Mississippi Half-Step,” Wake of the Flood made a studio home for road jewels such as “Row Jimmy,” “Stella Blue,” “Here Comes Sunshine,” and “Eyes of the World,” with the 12-plus minutes of Bob Weir’s “Weather Report Suite” still coming together as they entered the studio. The band’s harmony vocals were arguably never better, weaving through the beauty and grace of “Stella Blue” and on “Here Comes Sunshine,” where their harmonies on that song in live settings could be charmingly wobbly. The reggae lilt of “Row Jimmy” was a mesmerizing addition to the band’s sound, and “Weather Report Suite” gave the album a memorable, epic closer. An array of guest musicians also sat in and added plenty of additional color, including a free-wheeling fiddle from Vassar Clements whirling through “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.”

This remastered edition couldn’t sound better, and bonus demos of “Eyes of the World” and “Here Comes Sunshine” offer formative versions that were ready for band to refine. Disc 2 of the CD version presents previously unreleased tracks of the Dead at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL on 11/1/73, shortly after the studio recordings. Wake of the Flood makes its presence here through “Weather Report Suite” and “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” alongside an album-length roll through “Morning Dew”>“Playing in the Band”>“Uncle John’s Band”>“Playing in the Band.” (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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