Wave That Flag: Grateful Dead's From the Mars Hotel Spotlights Elementary Strengths of Each Band Member, Features Longtime Concert Staples 'U.S. Blues,' 'Unbroken Chain,' 'China Doll,' and 'Ship of Fools'
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity's World-Renowned Mastering System and Strictly Limited to 4,000 Numbered Copies: 180g 45RPM Vinyl 2LP Set Boasts Dynamic, Smooth Sound Primarily Recorded Live, the 1974 Album Witnesses the Beloved Group Getting Loose While Mixing Soul, Funk, Psychedelia, Dance, and R&B Welcome, friend. You've just checked into the Mars Hotel. The Wall of Sound, the greatest PA system ever constructed, is freshly built and ready to go. Phil Lesh is busy experimenting with a low-frequency concept known as 'Earthquake Bass.' Jerry Garcia is smiling, fresh from blaring a tongue-in-cheek anthem titled 'U.S. Blues' that serves as both an irresistible rallying cry of pride and ironic commentary. And The Grateful Dead's interplay continues to wow, peaking on 'Unbroken Chain,' the most obvious example yet of the group's shared chemistry and individual talents. Yes, we're certain you'll enjoy your stay. In the lobby, you'll find decoratively funky 'Scarlet Begonias.' Do we need mention the music, performances, and sights sound and look better than ever? Mastered on Mobile Fidelity's world-renowned mastering system, pressed at RTI and strictly limited to 4,000 numbered copies, Mobile Fidelity's 180g 45RPM vinyl 2LP set of From the Mars Hotel comes on as both an audiophile delight and Deadhead's dream. Vastly improving upon the long-out-of-print 1984 MoFi version that currently commands upwards of hundreds of dollars on the aftermarket, the new version takes advantage of enhancements to the cutting system, pressing process, and mastering gear. MoFi's engineers have taken every precaution in honing the sound and feel of the Dead classic. And you cannot argue with the extra information within the wider 45RPM grooves. Originally made in a modern facility dubbed Studio A - a large cinderblock room that Columbia Records specially outfitted for Simon and Garfunkel, who, ironically, split up before they could use it - From the Mars Hotel was primarily recorded live to 16-track machines. After laying down the basic structures, a few overdubs got added, most notably in the form of John McFee's rustic pedal-steel guitar accents on one track and Ned Lagin's spacey synthesizer passages on another. Always prized for it's superb fidelity, the effort possesses an uncanny sense of airiness around the vocals, brilliant microdynamics, excellent transients, reference-caliber balance, accessible tonalities, and the distinctive aura of a real band playing in a defined space. With Keith Godchaux's spry quick-finger piano notes adding a barroom blues feeling and wife Donna Godchaux's soaring background vocals bringing up the rear, the Dead puts a vibrant spring into the step of contagious fare such as the rousing 'U.S. Blues,' down-and-dirty funky soul of 'Loose Lucy,' and slippery 'Money Money.' These songs stand as some of the loosest black-inspired music the Dead composed. And why not? True to the era's burgeoning mix of soul, R&B, psychedelic rock, and dance, the collective places it's own memorable stamp on the day's popular fusion.