This promotional single, which was distributed free with initial copies of the Phil Lesh & Friends album There and Back Again ordered through the Grateful Dead's mail-order company (www.dead.net), contains the Lesh band's studio recording of a legendary Dead song. "Mason's Children" looms large in Dead lore, mainly for its obscurity. It is a song the Dead introduced in their concerts in mid-December 1969 shortly after the calamitous Altamont festival, with which the lyrics deal "obliquely," according to lyricist Robert Hunter, and which the band played for the last time a little over two months later, without ever recording. In the outpouring of Dead concert recordings since the band's retirement, performances of it have turned up on disc, first on Dick's Picks, Vol. 4 and later on the Lesh-compiled Fallout from the Phil Zone, demonstrating the bassist's affection for the tune. That affection is also evident in this vibrant recording, taken at a brisk tempo, with Warren Haynes, Rob Barraco, and Lesh's shared vocals strongly recalling the gruff sound of the late Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland (who, ironically, never sang the song). Hunter's lyric is typically circular and open to interpretation, which only adds to the track's appeal. The recording again demonstrates Lesh's determination to re-create and slightly update the Dead's sound in his own band, a determination successfully executed here.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann