|Studio album by Grateful Dead|
|Released||June 20, 1969|
|Recorded||September 1968 – March 1969|
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, experimental rock|
38:0780:44 (2003 reissue)
|Label||Warner Bros.-Seven Arts|
|Grateful Dead chronology|
Aoxomoxoa is the third studio album by the Grateful Dead. It was originally titled Earthquake Country. Many Deadheads consider this era of the Dead to be the experimental apex of the band's history. It is also the first album with Tom Constanten as an official member of the band. Rolling Stone, upon reviewing the album, mentioned that "no other music sustains a lifestyle so delicate and loving and lifelike". The album was certified gold by the RIAA on May 13, 1997.
The title of the album is a palindrome created by cover artist Rick Griffin and lyricist Robert Hunter. According to the audio version of the Rock Scully memoir, Living with the Dead (read by the author and former Dead co-manager himself), the title is pronounced "ox-oh-mox-oh-ah". The words "Grateful Dead" on the front of the album, written in large, flowing capital letters, are an ambigram that can also be read "we ate the acid". The artwork around the bottom edge of the album cover depicts several phallic representations.
Making of the album
The group had already initiated recording sessions for the album when Ampex manufactured and released the first multitrack recording machine, offering 16 tracks of recording and playback (model number MM-1000). This doubled the number of tracks the band had available when they recorded Anthem of the Sun the previous year. As a direct consequence, the band spent eight months off-and-on in the studio not only recording the album but getting used to—and experimenting with—the new technology. Garcia commented that "it was our first adventure with sixteen-track and we tended to put too much on everything...A lot of the music was just lost in the mix, a lot of what was really there". As a result, Garcia and Lesh went back in the studio in 1971 to remix the album, removing whole sections of songs. The result, with the same catalog number, WS1790, but with much of the original's experimental character removed, can be identified by the legend on the back cover that reads, "Remixed September, 1971". The original mix was later planned for CD release, but the original master tapes could not be located. The master tapes were finally located for The Warner Bros. Studio Albums vinyl box set, marking the first time the 1969 mix has been available since the 1971 remix replaced it.
In Grateful Dead history, Aoxomoxoa had a number of firsts connected with it. It is the first album the band recorded in or near their hometown of San Francisco (at Pacific Recording Studio in nearby San Mateo, and at the similarly named Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco proper). It is the first studio release to include pianist Tom Constanten and percussionist/drummer Mickey Hart as permanent members. It was also the first to have lyricist Robert Hunter as a full-time contributor to the band, thus initiating the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter songwriting partnership that endured for the rest of the band's existence. It was also the first time the band would put emphasis on acoustic songs, such as "Mountains of the Moon" and "Dupree's Diamond Blues." Lesh played acoustic bass for the first time, commenting that "the fun part of that was trying to play in tune with no frets to guide my fingers, just like a violin."
The lengthy sessions for the album would put the band deeper into debt with Warner Bros. Records—specifically, a total cost of $180,000 for Aoxomoxoa; it was their most ambitious and costly venture to that date. It would be the last time the band would ever run up such high studio bills.
The 2003 reissue (also part of the Golden Road boxed set from 2001) includes three studio jams (including an early version of "The Eleven") from the original aborted eight-track sessions for the album, and a live version of "Cosmic Charlie" recorded early in 1969.
|1.||"St. Stephen" (Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Robert Hunter)||4:26|
|2.||"Dupree's Diamond Blues"||3:32|
|4.||"Doin' That Rag"||4:41|
|5.||"Mountains of the Moon"||4:02|
|6.||"China Cat Sunflower"||3:40|
|7.||"What's Become of the Baby"||8:12|
|2003 reissue bonus tracks|
|9.||"Clementine Jam" (Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)||10:46|
|10.||"Nobody's Spoonful Jam" (Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)||10:04|
|11.||"The Eleven Jam" (Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)||15:00|
|12.||"Cosmic Charlie" (Live)||6:47|
- Tracks 9–11 recorded live in the studio at Pacific Recording Studio, San Mateo, California, on August 13, 1968
- Track 12 recorded live at Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, California, on January 25, 1969
- Grateful Dead
- Tom Constanten – keyboards, production, arrangements
- Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
- Mickey Hart – drums, percussion
- Bill Kreutzmann – drums, percussion
- Phil Lesh – bass guitar, vocals
- Ron "Pigpen" McKernan – keyboards, percussion
- Bob Weir – guitar, vocals
- Additional musicians
- Technical personnel
- Betty Cantor – engineer
- Dan Healy – consulting engineer
- Bob Matthews – executive engineer
- Owsley Stanley – consulting engineer (credited as "Owsley")
- Ron Wickersham – consulting engineer
- Reissue personnel
- James Austin – production
- Joe Gastwirt – mastering, production consultation
- Michael Wesley Johnson – associate production, research coordination
- Cassidy Law – project coordination, Grateful Dead Archives
- Eileen Law – archival research, Grateful Dead Archives
- David Lemieux – production
- Peter McQuaid – executive production, Grateful Dead Productions
- Jeffrey Norman – additional mixing on bonus tracks
- Planer, Lindsay. Aoxomoxoa at AllMusic. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- Grateful Dead at RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- Scaruffi, Piero (1999). "Grateful Dead". pieroscaruffi.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Novelli, Adele (July 12, 1969). "Aoxomoxoa". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, pg. 162.
- Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip by Jake Woodward, et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2003, pg. 99.
- "RIAA Gold & Platinum database-Aoxomoxoa". Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- Peters, Stephen (1999). What a Long Strange Trip: The Stories Behind Every Grateful Dead Song, 1965 – 1995. Da Capo Press. p. 35. ISBN 1-56025-233-2. "A closer examination of the top half of the flamboyantly-lettered 'Grateful Dead' heading reveals a line that appears to read 'We ate the acid,' a statement which isn't too hard to believe after a cursory listen to the thickly filtered vocals of 'Rosemary' or the haunting vacuum of 'What's Become of the Baby'."
- Live-grateful-dead-music.com (scroll down to Aoxomoxoa)
- Rateyourmusic.com, list adapted from November 14, 1991 issue of Rolling Stone. Retrieved on July 29, 2006.
- Phil Lesh: Searching for the Sound by Phil Lesh, Little, Brown and Company, 2005, pg. 138.