In an effort to prove that Grateful Dead material can work in almost any context, Wake the Dead (good name) show how the songs might have been performed if Garcia and Co. had come from Ireland instead of California. While the idea sounds like one of those ridiculously cute concepts, it actually works, in part because these guys can play, and intermingle the songs with instrumental pieces -- for example, "Scarlet Begonias" is introduced by a reel, giving it an entirely different context, and others are surrounded by jogs and reels. While many of the songs are inevitably familiar, even to casual fans, with takes on "U.S. Blues" and "The Other One," for example, they do explore further into the less well known, and find joy on "Liberty," among others, one of the more unfamiliar Garcia/Hunter compositions -- although from this rendering you have to wonder why. Singer Sylvia Herold comes from a folk background, which makes her amply qualified for a project like this, and her lovely singing voice works well among the pipes, harps, and fiddles that make up the instrumentation. So who would be interested in this? Deadheads, obviously, but the audience is wider, taking in anyone with an interest in offbeat Celtic music, and even those with a taste for the slightly twisted. Well done, and far more than an amusement -- but it's debatable as to whether it merits a sequel.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson