GD: because they can

Infrared Roses (Grateful Dead Merchandising)
The Grateful Dead

By John Goodin

What other band of millionaires would spend their money on something so completely, so intentionally uncommercial? This is chaos theory in action. These are high-risk investors pursuing excellence and quality and purposefully ignoring the bottom line. This is the kind of investment that aids all musicians who put the music before the dollar.

The Grateful Dead's audience knows that every night the set list will be different and that the familiar songs will feature lots of improvised instrumental soloing. They don't expect to hear careful reconstructions of the band's recordings. They also know that every night in the second set the band will "enter a musical environment without walls or structure." Often called "Drums" and "Space," these improvisations are the sources for Infrared Roses.

Bob Bralove is one of the crafters of the Dead's sound on this outing. He has taken tapes from many shows and edited them into four suites of three sections each. There are no formal songs and no singing.

Despite this dauntingly unstructured format, this is not "difficult" music in the same way that free jazz or atonal classical music can be. The notes are mostly gentle notes, the weird sounds are mostly non-threatening and the drums are full of joy and passion. If you let your mind go, you may imagine this music being played by very friendly aliens.

Branford Marsalis guests on saxophones on "Apollo at the Ritz" and Bruce Hornsby is featured on "Silver Apples of the Moon." The titles, however, are simply organizational markers. The whole recording can easily be heard as one piece.

The Grateful Dead don't need the money you might spend here, but if you have a taste for modestly experimental music, you won't be disappointed with Infrared Roses.