Robert Hunter

Tales of the Great Rum Runners

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On his debut album, supported by several members of the Grateful Dead and other Bay Area musicians, Robert Hunter demonstrated the musical and lyrical approach that had made his co-compositions with Jerry Garcia the best of the Dead's original material. Hunter's poetic language was redolent with a rustic Americana of roads, rivers, roses, and rain, and if his melodies lacked Garcia's grace and the backup lacked the Dead's cohesion, nevertheless this was identifiably music in the Dead vein. Hunter was an uncertain singer, alternately straining for a higher register reminiscent of Garcia and half-talking in a deeper voice that seemed more natural and advantageous to his lyrics. The album was overly ambitious musically, ranging from folk ballads to rockers and horn-filled raveups, along with barroom choruses and Scottish airs. But Hunter demonstrated he was more than just a lyricist. (Originally released on the Dead's Round Records label in 1974; reissued by Rykodisc on March 30, 1990, with some of the tracks re-edited.)

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