The first release from Jerry Garcia's short-lived backcountry bluegrass act was this 1973 recording that also highlighted the amazing skills of mandolin player David Grisman. The quintet actually released only this record, recorded at a series of performances in 1973, but the sound caught on with Grateful Dead fans and the record actually built up the group's legacy long after they disbanded. The songs themselves, mostly penned by guitarist Peter Rowan and Grisman as well as a handful of traditional numbers and even a revamped version of the Rolling Stones' classic "Wild Horses," are delivered with the sincere reverence of true bluegrass fanatics. Soaring multi-part harmonies; fiddle, guitar, banjo, bass, and mandolin lines that seamlessly intertwine with a good-time feel; and exceptionally solid musicianship round out the ten-track effort. Fans of the Grateful Dead's jolly throwback tunes should already have this in their collection, but even those put off by the member's psychedelic resumés will find that Old & in the Way is nothing of the sort. This is the sound of purists re-creating the music they grew up with and it's both enjoyable and inspiring to listen to. Like American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, this record showcases Garcia going back to his roots, and it shows that he and his buddies have more than the chops required to live up to their legend.
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AllMusic Review by Peter J. D'Angelo