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Jerry Garcia 

All Good Things (Rhino)

This boxed set collects all six JG solo studio records, from 1972's Garcia to 1982's Run for the Roses. With the exception of two albums, these often find Garcia in the role of interpretive singer, in large part forsaking the extended jams/improvisations of the Grateful Dead. He draws upon Dylan, early rock & roll (Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock"), Motown (a suavely comforting take on "When the Hunter Gets Captured by the Game"), the British Invasion (a loping, funky "I Saw Her Standing There") and even pre-rock chestnuts ("Russian Lullaby," a blistering bluegrass "Back Home in Indiana"). Regarding his originals, there's both startling brilliance and numbing tedium. Garcia (on which JG plays all the instruments save drums) contains his tightest and edgiest music of all: The tense, eerie "Bird Song" and the "Late for Supper/Eep Hour/Spidergawd" trilogy, which, with its sampled voices and unsettling, dublike sound collages, resembles the post-rock of Cul de Sac and Gastr del Sol. Cats Under the Stars, however, is loaded with lethargic "competence," confirming everything punks of the day felt about "dinosaur rock." Offering hours of music, obscure and otherwise, All Good Things is unlikely to appeal to any but the most devoted fan. But for the truly faithful, this is the Lost Ark.

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More by Mark Keresman

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