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Music / Anthem of the Sun

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Think I'll come back here again, every now and then from time to time
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Anthem of the Sun is a 1968 album by The Grateful Dead, the second in their catalogue, the first to feature their second drummer Mickey Hart, and the first to feature their second keyboard player Tom Constanten. Together with American Beauty (1970) it's often called their best. Therefore both albums have been featured together in an episode of the documentary series Classic Albums. The album was listed at nr. #288 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Tracklist

Side One

  1. "That's It for the Other One" (7:40)
    1. Cryptical Envelopment
    2. Quadlibet for Tenderfeet
    3. The Faster We Go, the Rounder We Get
    4. We Leave the Castle
  2. "New Potato Caboose" (8:26)
  3. "Born Cross-Eyed" (2:04)

Side Two

  1. "Alligator" (11:20)
  2. "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" (9:37)

Personnel

  • Jerry Garcia: vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, kazoo, vibraslap
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  • Tom Constanten: piano, electronic tape
  • Mickey Hart: drums, orchestra bells, gong, chimes, crotales, prepared piano, finger cymbals
  • Bill Kreutzmann: drums, glockenspel, gong, chimes, crotales, prepared piano, finger cymbals
  • Phil Lesh: bass guitar, trumpet, harpsichord, kazoo, piano, timpani, vocals
  • Ron "Pigpen" McKernan: organs, celesta, claves, vocals
  • Bob Weir: rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, kazoo, vocals

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Caution! Do Not Stop on Tropes

  • Animal Motifs: "Alligator"
    Out of the river all ugly and green,
    Came the biggest old alligator that i've ever seen!
    Teeth big and pointy and his eyes were buggin' out,
    Contracted the union, put the beggars to rout.
    Screamin' and yellin', he was pickin' his chops,
    He never runs he just stumbles and hops.
    Just out of prison on ten dollars bail,
    Mumblin' bitches and waggin' his tail.
  • Avant Garde Music: Certain portions of this album are very experimental. Electronic tape effects, influenced by John Cage, can be heard, along with piano pieces which seem like three gamelan orchestras are playing all at once. Many different instruments were used, including kazoos, crotales, a harpsichord, timpani, guiro and a trumpet.
  • Concept Album: While it doesn't have a concrete story, it's sometimes considered an early example of one.
  • Cue the Sun: "Born Cross-Eyed"
    'Bout the time the sun rises west
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The psychedelic album cover by Bill Walker.
  • Epic Rocking: Apart from "Born Cross-Eyed" every track is between 7 and 12 minutes long!
  • Face on the Cover: The band members are seen in the artwork of the album cover.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "That's It for the Other One" fades into "New Potato Caboose" and "Alligator" fades into "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)".
  • Grief Song: "That's It for the Other One"
    And when the day had ended, with rainbow colors blended
    Their minds remained unbended
    He had to die, oh, you know he had to die
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)", where the protagonist visits a gypsy woman to find help with his relationship troubles.
    I went down to see this gypsy woman, you understand,
    I told her my story, i told her what was goin' on.
    And she told me, man she said, all you need, all you need,
    She said all you got to have, oh lord,
    Just a touch of mojo's hand, oh bring it back on,
    And it feels pretty good, yes indeed.
  • Live Album: Portions of the album were recorded live and mixed in with studio recordings to create a magnificent soundscape.
  • Medley: The opening track "That's It for the Other One" is a four-parter according to the subtitles on the back cover, but this was only done to get more publishing royalty points. On the other hand, the band didn't always perform all four parts of the song live (but on the other other hand, live performances of it also sometimes got to half an hour or longer in length). "Cryptical Envelopment" was mostly dropped after 1971, apart from a few performances in 1985; "The Faster We Go, the Rounder We Get" was performed throughout the band's career, though it's usually labelled simply as "The Other One" on live releases. Some live releases, such as Dick's Picks Vol. 4, include the entire song as one track, while others, such as Dick's Picks Vol. 8, split it up into multiple tracks (four, in this case). "Quadlibet for Tenderfeet" is a brief section connecting the first and third movements, while "We Leave the Castle" is a brief outro performed by keyboardist Tom Constanten.
  • Multiple Head Case: The six headed god on the album cover.
  • New Sound Album: The band was determined to make a more complicated recorded work than their debut, as well as trying to translate their live sound into the studio.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title doesn't appear in any of the lyrics, though the sun itself is mentioned briefly in "That's It For Today", "Born Cross-Eyed" and "New Potato Caboose".
  • One-Word Title: "Alligator"
  • Progressive Rock: An often overlooked candidate for Ur-Example with its multi-movement suites and complicated compositions that incorporate influence from many disparate genres, including modern classical, musique concrete, and jazz.
  • Psychedelic Rock: The album cover already gives you a pretty good indication of how this record sounds.
  • Stock Sound Effects: A car horn is heard at the end of "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Apart from "Alligator" and "Caution" most lyrics are pretty surreal.

Fuzzy then and still so obscure, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye
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