October 1973: Grateful Dead Go Indie with "Wake of the Flood"

Grateful Dead, Wake of the Flood
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(Courtesy of Grateful Dead Records)

Grateful Dead were in a transitional period leading up to the October 15, 1973 release of Wake of the Flood. It would mark a series of debuts for the group, none more profound than it being their first since the passing of founding member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.


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With drummer Mickey Hart MIA, The band’s initial studio effort in almost three years was also the start of four full-length efforts to be released on the freshly minted Grateful Dead record label. With the Dead incorporating even deeper musical textures and influences into their vast repertoire, from jazz to jug-band aesthetics. Wake of the Flood would crack the Top 20 of the US album charts, peaking at No. 18.


"They're a little more sophisticated in terms of structure than our other ones, the new tunes," Jerry Garcia told Cameron Crowe during a 1973 Circus magazine interview. "But they're Grateful Dead all the way. I mean they sound like The Grateful Dead. I can't really look at them objectively, but I feel that they're better. It's hard to tell what direction they're moving in. They're really sort of dispersed in that they are widely-patterned. All the tunes are very different from each other and the ones that preceded them as well."

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