Robert Hunter

Liberty

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Maybe it was the addition of Jerry Garcia as lead guitarist or just Hunter's growing experience as a singer/ songwriter, but Liberty was a quantum leap from his earlier albums. The backup band was lively and tight (special kudos to drummer David Mann), and Hunter had written a set of playful lyrics, carefully never overwriting and often alluding to earlier folk and rock tunes. (Amazingly, the excellent, album-closing "When A Man Loves A Woman" did not refer to the '60s hit--Hunter claimed never to have heard it when he wrote his song.) He sang with a propulsive energy, such that, on a major label with proper promotion, a song like "Do Deny (Lying Man)" might have had a chance on radio. (If the Grateful Dead had cut it, it would have made a great followup to their 1987 Top Ten hit "Touch Of Grey," co-written by Garcia and Hunter.) Unfortunately, Liberty was the last album of new song material Hunter had produced as of 1996.

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