Jerry Garcia

Garcia (Compliments)

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Jerry Garcia's second solo effort initially bore the same eponymous title as his first. A parenthetical "Compliments Of" was originally featured on promotional copies that bore the words atop the "Garcia" moniker. The name was officially changed in the late '80s, when the platter evolved into the CD format, to alleviate any confusion between the two very different recordings. In direct contrast to the 1972 release, the vast majority of the ten tracks on 1974's Garcia (Compliments) are cover versions performed with an ensemble, rather than just by the multi-instrumental artist. Equally distinguishing is that most of the material was not selected by the guitarist, but rather by the project's producer, John Kahn, who likewise had been Garcia's bassist and primary non-Grateful Dead collaborator. Although Garcia would reassert more control over the choice of songs in the future, this album heralds the origins of what would ultimately become the Jerry Garcia Band. Backed by an A-list cast of studio heavies, covers such as the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" and Van Morrison's "He Ain't Give You None" come off sounding slightly over-arranged. The converse, however, can be said of Garcia's intimately chilling reading of Peter Rowan's "Mississippi Moon," the slinky irrepressible Motown vibe on the Marvelettes' "The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game," and Little Milton's "That's What Love Will Make You Do" -- all of which remained as staples of the Jerry Garcia Band's live catalog. Although there aren't very many opportunities for Garcia to unleash the full potential of his formidable fretwork, the reading of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby" -- adapted from Argentinean guitarist Oscar Alemán's arrangement -- does allow him to perform some of the disc's most involved and intricately executed guitar work, which he renders on an acoustic classical axe. The solitary original composition, "Midnight Town" from Kahn and lyricist Robert Hunter, comes off somewhat uncharacteristically lightweight in deference to the album's otherwise solid effort.

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