“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Juliet said to her Romeo. Although there may be sweeter slices of psychedelic pop than Aoxomoxoa out there, none of them are by the Grateful Dead. And that’s what makes this record special—it captures the sound of a young band coming into their own as songwriters while furthering their freak agenda. In this episode, Casey, Eduardo, and Kevin delve into the Dead’s final album of the original acid era. Aoxomoxoa captures the band at a creative crossroads: up to this point, they traded in mind-melting instrumental freakouts, malformed blues, and the occasional baroque hallucination. Now, with Robert Hunter as their in-house lyricist and a newfound compositional confidence, the Dead were positioned to blow even more of Warner Brothers’ money on a triptastic album that contains several Dead warhorses. The band is nearly ready to burst out of lysergic chrysalis as a kind of cowboy Mothra. But until they do, let’s admire the unusual but captivating cocoon known as Aoxomoxoa.
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