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Reflections—7

 

Released: 1976

1) Might As Well  2) Mission in the Rain  3) They Love Each Other  4) I’ll Take A Melody  5) It Must Have Been the Roses  6) Tore Up Over You  7) Catfish John  8) Comes A Time

 

Jerry’s third solo release, and the last album to be credited to Garcia alone, was written during the sessions that produced the Grateful Dead’s “Blues For Allah.”  This album however, is more similar in feel to “Wake of the Flood.”  Amazingly though, “Reflections” manages to be even more sleepy.  Actually, this is the sleepiest record ever made.  EVER.  Even the faster numbers are lazy and slow.  Is it good?  Well, practically every song here is absolutely beautiful and cordial.  But the album as a whole is just too monotonous, too slow, and too reflective to be considered anywhere near as good as Garcia’s first solo album.

 

Might As Well” is a nice hoedown ditty, with the Dead sounding really tight.  Yep, I know this is a Jerry solo album, but the entire Grateful Dead appear on this song and on three others.  In fact, there are at least four members of the Dead on every song, but “Mission in the Rain” and “Tore Up Over You.”  Not really much of a solo effort.  Also when you consider that four of the songs were already part of the Dead’s live repertoire, this shouldn’t really count as a solo album at all.  Mission in the Rain,” featuring Nicky Hopkins on piano, starts off moody as hell, but it never really picks up any life.  Still, it has its moments and is kind of pleasant.  They Love Each Other” is much better elsewhere, when it’s faster and more aggressive, but it’s still an enjoyable enough sounding tune here.  I’ll Take a Melody” is nearly TEN minutes long and is boring, upbeat, dull, pleasant, gospel, pointless, and charming all at once.  I don’t know.  Yeah it’s nice, but I doubt you’ll really be too upset when it ends.  It Must Have Been The Roses” is a rare Robert Hunter tune in which Jerry actually plays the music Hunter wrote as well as his words, but it travels at a sloth’s pace and if you aren’t asleep at this point in the album you were the kind of student who liked having a lecture-crazed monotone professor at 8:00 in the morning. 

 

Tore Up Over You” rocks harder than anything here and Hopkins demonstrates why he has appeared on at least one album by every band ever (love his piano!).  Catfish John” follows and is swampy, with some great Donna Godchaux and Bob Weir backing vocals.  Its reggae feel and cool tone manage to make it a pretty neat, long, boring tune.  Comes A Time” closes out the album and is a true gem, despite being yet another slow, wandering, lonely Garcia/Hunter story song in the “Wharf Rat” mode.  This has a pretty strange sounding Jerry solo and has Hunter’s best lyrics in a while.  It is a shame The Dead didn’t play this song very often in concert.

 

Overall, this album is nearly impossible to rate.  Every song is good to great.  Seriously.  But as an album, “Reflections” is so unvaryingly SLOW that you cannot possibly sit through it in one sitting.  The best way to know if you should purchase this is if you like “Wake of the Flood.”  If yes, then this album is another charming, alluring, and beautiful record to relax with.  If no, then this is just another tedious, dreary, and drowsy album to fall asleep to.  Since I like “Wake of the Flood,” this gets a 7.  But if you think that you are going to put “Reflections” in, listen to it once or twice, and agree with me, you’re crazy.  This album will take months before it reveals its charms.   

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