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Built To Last—4  

   

Release Date—1989

1) Foolish Heart 2) Just A Little Light 3) Built To Last 4) Blow Away 5) Victim Or The Crime 6) We Can Run 7) Standing On The Moon 8) Picasso Moon 9) I Will Take You Home

 

A huge disappointment, or maybe just a step back into reality, this is the Dead’s last studio release and is by far their worst overall album.  It’s dated, poor, and really a showcase for keyboardist Brent Mydland who takes composing credit on 4 of the 9 tracks.  (Incidentally, Mydland died of a drug overdose one year after the release of this album—The curse of the Dead’s keyboard players lives on—or lived on, whatever).  

 

Foolish Heart” starts the record and is probably the best overall song here, but the Dead ruin it with their arrangements.  I’m sure it sounded cool in concert, but the swirling keyboards and strange Latin beat force this tune into the realm of cheesy 80s adult contemporary music.  Just A Little Light” adds to the cheese factor.  Mydland sings it really well, but the song is dull and formulaic.  The title track provides some of the old, overlong Garcia/Hunter folky-style.  Not bad, but not great either.  Blow Away” is Mydland again, and again isn’t anything too memorable save for the ending jam, which is fairly entertaining.  Weir gets into the act with “Victim Of The Crime” and it actually is the album highlight with its creepy backbeat.  This song is 8 minutes long, but its moody and one of Weir’s best. 

 

The Dead don’t follow Weir’s lead though, as Mydland’s “We Can Run” is next.  It sucks.  What more do you want me to say?  Nice Jerry solo.  There.  Standing On The Moon” is another Garcia/Hunter roundabout.  Sluggishly slow, but if you like your wandering Jerry tunes you’ll like it just fine.  Too dull, too long…blah.  Weir’s “Picasso Moon” gets the album moving a little with some faster paced music, but I’m not sure if the song is any good at all.  In the context, it sounds GREAT, but listen to it by itself and you realize it is just a normal, ordinary Weir tune.  Mydland ends the album with “I Will Take You Home” that starts with a windup music box.  Uh…Yuck!  I guess its heartfelt and really a touching way to end your recording career, but it is just a standard piano ballad.                                      

 

As stated above, this is The Dead’s worst studio album.  It isn’t worth owning and wasn’t worth making.  Download “Victim Or The Crime” and maybe the three Jerry tunes and count yourself lucky to have avoided this album.

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