Anthem of the Sun

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Anthem of the Sun
A multi-colored image of fractals on a blue background
Studio album by Grateful Dead
Released July 18, 1968 (1968-07-18)
Recorded September 1967 – March 31, 1968 (see Locations for more on these dates)
Studio Various
Length 38:57
Label Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Grateful Dead chronology
The Grateful Dead
Anthem of the Sun
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone positive [2]

Anthem of the Sun is the second Grateful Dead studio album, released in 1968. It is the first album to feature second drummer Mickey Hart, who joined the band in September 1967. In 2003, the album was ranked number 287 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[3]

Drummer Bill Kreutzmann's description of the production process succinctly describes the listening experience of the unique album as well: "...Jerry [Garcia] and Phil [Lesh] went into the studio with [Dan] Healy and, like mad scientists, they started splicing all the versions together, creating hybrids that contained the studio tracks and various live parts, stitched together from different shows, all in the same song - one rendition would dissolve into another and sometimes they were even stacked on top of each other...It was easily our most experimental record, it was groundbreaking in its time, and it remains a psychedelic listening experience to this day."[4]

Development and recording[edit]

The band had entered the American Studios in North Hollywood with the same producer, David Hassinger, as their eponymous debut album, in November 1967.[5] However, the Dead were determined to make a more complicated recorded work than their debut release, as well as attempt to translate their live sound into the studio.

The band and Hassinger then changed locations to New York City in December of that year, where they found themselves going through two other studios, Century Sound and Olmstead Studios (both "highly regarded eight-track studios").[5] Eventually, Hassinger grew frustrated with the group's slow recording pace and quit the project entirely while the band was at Century Sound, with only a third of the album completed. It has been reported that he left after guitarist Bob Weir requested creating the illusion of "thick air" in the studio by mixing recordings of silence taken in the desert and the city.[6][7] Hassinger commented that "Nobody could sing [the new tracks recorded in NYC], and at that point they were experimenting too much in my opinion. They didn't know what the hell they were looking for." Garcia noted that "we want[ed] to learn how the studio work[ed]. We [didn't] want somebody else doing it. It's our music, we want[ed] to do it."[5]

The band then recruited their soundman, Dan Healy, to assist them in the studio for the rest of the album and they headed back to San Francisco's Coast Recorders studio. In between the Los Angeles and New York sessions, the band began playing live dates. Lesh commented that this was in part because the songs were not "road tested."[7] Healy, Garcia, and Lesh then took these concert tapes (encompassing two Los Angeles shows from November 1967, a tour of the Pacific Northwest in January/early-February 1968, and a California tour from mid-February to mid-March 1968) and began interlacing them with existing studio tracks.[5] Garcia called this "mix[ing] it for the hallucinations."[7]. Kreutzmann explained, "Phil and Jerry were the ones who figured out that we could exploit studio technology to demonstrate how these songs were mirrors of infinity, even when they adhered to their established arrangements. It’s the old paradox of “improvisational compositions.” Jazz artists knew all about the balance between freedom and structure, but a few rock bands were now catching on. Most rock bands, however, tended to head in an opposite direction, afraid of the uncertainty of improvisation. We decided that Anthem of the Sun was going to be our statement on the matter".[4]

Adding to the psychedelic madness on the album was Tom Constanten, a friend of bassist Phil Lesh who joined the band in the studio to provide piano and prepared piano and "electronic tape" effects (influenced by John Cage) tracks; Constanten would formally join the band in November 1968. His contributions to the band's sound were always much more evident in the studio than in their live shows, and Anthem of the Sun was no exception. Constanten made it so that the piano pieces seemed like three gamelan orchestras were playing all at once. He even went so far as to use a gyroscope set spinning on the piano soundboard.[7] All in all, the album turned out as psychedelic as intended. The band used a large assortment of instruments in the studio to augment the live tracks that were the base of each song, including kazoos, crotales, a harpsichord, timpani, guiro, and a trumpet. Garcia commented that parts of the album were "far out, even too far out ... We weren't making a record in the normal sense; we were making a collage."[6] Warner Bros. executive was noted as calling Anthem of the Sun as "the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves."[6]

On the original pressing, all of the songs were credited to the band as a whole. Individual writing credits were subsequently published. In order to get more publishing royalty points on the album, the band divided opening track "That's it for the Other One" into four, somewhat arbitrary movements. The opening section, the Garcia-sung "Cryptical Envelopment", was dropped from live performances of the suite after 1971 (though reappearing a few times in 1985). The second section, ostensibly a quodlibet (misspelled as "quadlibet"), is a short jam connecting to the main section, sung by Weir ("Spanish lady comes to me, she lays on me this rose"), and a short reprise of "Cryptical Envelopment". Though labeled as "The Faster We Go, the Rounder We Get", played live, Weir's section became known simply as "The Other One". The final section is a Constanten piece featuring the aforementioned prepared piano and sound effects (this section is missing from the album cover on original pressings). Robert Hunter, a longtime friend and then-future songwriting collaborator of Jerry Garcia, made his first lyrical contributions to the band, providing Lesh and Pigpen with the words to "Alligator".

Early pressings of the album include the phrase "The faster we go, the rounder we get" inscribed on the vinyl in the run-out matrix around the label area. This was the inspiration for Rounder Records' name.

A remixed version of Anthem of the Sun was issued in 1972 (with the same product number, WS-1749), and can be identified by the letters RE after the master numbers.

Although the chaos of the final product makes it difficult to tell where many of the live excerpts used in the creation of Anthem Of The Sun actually ended up, significant fragments of "Alligator" (e.g. the post-vocals "jam section") are known to come from a show at San Francisco's Carousel Ballroom on 14 February 1968. Also the "Alligator" vocal reprise is taken from November 10, 1967, at the Shrine Exposition Center. Similarly, the skeletal framework of "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)" dates from the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium show on November 10, 1967, and at the Carousel Ballroom on March 31, 1968. Extended excerpts from two shows at Kings Beach Bowl in Lake Tahoe, California, on February 23–24, 1968, that provided music for the album (most notably the car horn heard at the end of "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)") were later released on the live archival recording Dick's Picks Volume 22. A further show from this period further reveals portions used for the album such as the verse(s) section of "The Other One" portion of "That's It For The Other One" as well as the first half of the "New Potato Caboose" jam (after the vocals) were used on Anthem Of The Sun, hailing from March 17, 1968, was released as the Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 6.

The making of Anthem of the Sun, Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead, and American Beauty are described by former members and associates of the Grateful Dead in the 1997 Classic Albums documentary Anthem to Beauty.

"Alligator" was Robert Hunter's first songwriting credit on a Grateful Dead album.


While no certain date for the beginning of recording is known, it is unlikely that any material recorded before September 19, 1967, was used in the final release. This is the date when Mickey Hart first played with the band.

Studios used:

Live tracks recorded at:

The February 14, 1968 recording at Carousel Ballroom has been used to create sound patches for Moog Music's award-winning Animoog app.[8]

Bonus tracks on the 2003 reissue recorded at:

The live bonus tracks (6-8 on the reissue) also constitute the bonus disc of the 2007 reissue of Two from the Vault

Remix and alternate cover[edit]

A remixed version of Anthem of the Sun, supervised by Phil Lesh, was issued in 1972 (with the same product number, WS-1749), and can be identified by the letters RE after the master numbers. The remix particularly differs from the original in terms of segues, use of live recordings, and stereo imaging. For example, the original mix starts with vocals and organ panned wide, while the remix has them centered; Bob Weir's studio vocal on the first track is doubled with a live recording on the original mix and solo on the remix. "Born Cross-Eyed" ends with a power chord in the key of E on the remix, whereas the original mix has an earlier fade-out.

Around the same time Jerry Garcia supervised a remix of the Grateful Dead's following album Aoxomoxoa. While the Aoxomoxoa remix was used for original Warner Bros and subsequent Rhino CD issues, the original mix of Anthem of the Sun was chosen for CD reissues.

Alternate cover of Anthem of the Sun

In 2013 the Grateful Dead studio albums were remastered again for listening in digital high resolution. The 2013 download is the first digital issue of the Anthem of the Sun early 70s remix. Confusingly, the promotion for this reissue emphasized the use of original mixes (particularly those of the Workingman's Dead and American Beauty albums which had been remixed for previous high resolution digital releases).[9][10] However, Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa appear in the 2013 HD release not in their original mixes, but in remixed form, as released in 1972.

As remix masters were not sent to the UK, vinyl pressings of the album in this region (and probably other foreign markets) continued to use the original mix after 1972.[11]

When the album was reissued in 1975, Warner Brothers changed the background color on the front cover from Midnight Blue to White and the stylized title was changed to a standard font. As the band had not approved the change, the following pressings reverted to blue.[12]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "That's It for the Other One" (Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron McKernan, Bob Weir, Tom Constanten) 7:40
2. "New Potato Caboose" (Lesh, Robert Petersen) 8:26
3. "Born Cross-Eyed" (Weir) 2:04
Side two
No. Title Length
4. "Alligator" (Lesh, McKernan, Robert Hunter) 11:20
5. "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir) 9:37
2003 reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
6. "Alligator (live)"   18:43[a]
7. "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) (live)"   11:38<[a]
8. "Feedback (live)"   6:58[a]
9. "Born Cross-Eyed (single version)"   2:55


  1. ^ a b c Recorded August 23, 1968. Also released on the bonus disc of Two from the Vault


Grateful Dead


  • Grateful Dead - producers, arrangers
  • David Hassinger - producer
  • Dan Healy - executive engineer
  • Bob Matthews - assistant engineer

Reissue technical 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

Chart positions[edit]

Chart Peak Position
Billboard Pop Albums 87[13]

See also[edit]

San Francisco Sound


  1. ^ Planer, Lindsay. Anthem of the Sun at AllMusic. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  2. ^ Miller, Jim (28 September 1968). "Anthem of the Sun". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Albums: Anthem of the Sun" at
  4. ^ a b Kreutzmann, Bill (2015). Deal. St. Martin's Press, New York. Chapter 5. ISBN 978-1-250-03380-2. 
  5. ^ a b c d Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, pg. 144.
  6. ^ a b c Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip . Jake Woodward, et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2003, pg. 83.
  7. ^ a b c d Phil Lesh: Searching for the Sound by Phil Lesh, Little, Brown and Company, 2005, pg. 125.
  8. ^ "Moog Music Resynthesizes 44-Year-Old Live Recording of the Grateful Dead Into New Tools for Artists". December 26, 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Grateful Dead: Complete Studio Albums Collection Remastered in HD". 7 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "How Airshow Remastered the Grateful Dead Studio Albums - Airshow Mastering". 
  11. ^ " reissue notes" at Retrieved Jan. 2016
  12. ^ "Note #3" at Lama Workshop. Retrieved Jan. 2016
  13. ^ "Top 200 Albums". Billboard. "Anthem of the Sun" is 187. Hover over it and it gives the peak.