With Bill Kreutzmann masterfully drumming alone following the resignation of Mickey Hart, and augmented the previous fall by Keith Godchaux’s elegant piano, the Dead leaned toward the pared-down sound they’d perfected on their previous studio albums, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Indeed, Europe ’72 arguably completes an acid-Americana trilogy insofar as it features a handful of sepia-toned new tunes: “He’s Gone,” “Jack Straw,” “Brown-Eyed Women,” “Ramble on Rose,” and “Tennessee Jed.” It also eliminates nearly all crowd noise and contains enough post-tour overdubs (mainly in the vocals department) to suggest a live-studio hybrid, with Jerry Garcia’s joyously apocalyptic “Morning Dew” as its show-stopping closer. The Dead’s best-selling live album also marked the group’s final recording with singer-keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who died the following year.
~Richard Gehr (rollingstone.com)
Taking notes on vocal harmonies from friends Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Dead used the softer statements of their fourth studio album as a subtle but moving reflection on the turmoil, heaviness, and hope America’s youth was facing as the idealistic ’60s ended. American Beauty was recorded just a few months after its predecessor, both expanding and improving on the bluegrass, folk, and psychedelic country explorations of Workingman’s Dead with some of the band’s most brilliant compositions. – Fred Thomas (Allmusic)
It took me a while to get into Grateful Dead, but when they hit me, they hit me hard! This is my second favorite of their albums (my number one is Workingman’s Dead) I should say studio albums, because I really love their early 70s live stuff.
American Beauty is the sixth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between August and September 1970 and originally released in November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. The album continued the folk rock and country music explored on Workingman’s Dead and prominently features the lyrics of Robert Hunter.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great – much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River Country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.
~Bob Dylan (Jerry Garcia’s Obituary – 10 August 1995)
Bruce Hornsby inducts the Grateful Dead at the 1994 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: