I was turned on to the music and positive chemistry of the Grateful Dead by an article I read in Circus Magazine in 1968. The author made a profound impact upon my consciousness by describing his concert experience in the California desert at a Grateful Dead concert. He articulated well what the concert felt like for him, how karmic the Dead were live. I went to the record store the very next day and bought Grateful Dead, Anthem of the Sun on vinyl for $2.79. It proved to be one of the best music values I would buy in the initial phase of my record collection.
I played that record on my hi-fi system in my bedroom. I would leave the selector arm over to the left-hand side so that the needle would pick up at the end and replay from the beginning again.
I must admit my first few plays of Anthem of the Sun did not exactly click with my mind. I found the tracks densely layered and I couldn’t concentrate on what they were trying to communicate to me. But by the fourth full listen I had a couple of breakthroughs and I was forever hooked on the acid sound of improvisational psychedelic jamming.
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 contribute piano and prepared piano (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 clear 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. (Courtesy wikipedia)
My favorite track on Anthem of the Sun is “That’s It for the Other One”. I liked its four-part interwoven thematic interpretation.
"That's It for the Other One" – 7:40 I. "Cryptical Envelopment" (Garcia) II. "Quadlibet for Tenderfeet" (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir) III. "The Faster We Go, The Rounder We Get" (Kreutzmann, Weir) IV. "We Leave the Castle" (Constanten)