Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Other One - documentary

I was never a real Grateful Dead fan - I supposed I have had an album or two now and again though I could only name a few songs of theirs - "Truckin'", of course, my fave "Box of Rain" and I had some live record with a cool version of Muddy Waters' "Same Thing". But, they were certainly a big part of the 60's counter-culture and were a phenomenon.

Bob Weir joined like-minded Jerry Garcia in the Warlocks when he was just a baby-faced 16 year old and their chemistry clicked and they formed a life-long bond. This documentary has some excellent footage of their early days and of San Francisco in the 60's. The band went to the first Acid Tests - Weir says he took acid at least every week in 1965 - and decided that the Tests needed music and provided that, becoming forever intertwined with LSD. Footage of the Acid Tests, Ken Kesey's Pranksters, Neil Cassidy (who lived with the Dead for a while) and much more are some of the highlights of the film.

There are no regrets here - Bob says the Acid Tests were "impossibly fun" and that they "didn't have to fulfill expectations about music" which gave them an immense amount of freedom, of course. They moved on and played all around San Francisco - on the Haight itself, in Golden Gate Park, etc. and expanded their sounds whenever they could. Weir became enthralled with jazz musicians and did his best to interpret their comping behind Garcia's leads.

Of course, once they recorded their popularity soared with underground hits such as "Truckin'" and they toured constantly, gaining their touring fans, the Deadheads and their notorious parking lot parties. Time goes on and they even got a hit single in the 80's but then Garcia also started using heroin, which led to his death in 1995. The rest of the guys continued on in various forms and Weir still performs and records and seems to have a happy home life after a long life of a pretty boy in a popular rock'n'roll band.

I do wish that there had been a bit more about the band as a whole - I would have liked to have known more about Pig Pen, for instance - but, I suppose this doc is specifically about Weir and would have been much longer if they went off on the tangents. Still, a cool insight to a wild and wonderful time in rock'n'roll. I'd recommend it even if you're not a fan of the band.