1977 Album In Review: Terrapin Station – Grateful Dead

Released July 27, 1977

Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead was far more than a departure from their original sound – it was a total recreation of the sound, atmosphere, and future for the Dead. I would argue that it is the pinnacle album of their career. The Dead have always been an amalgamation of many genres including folk, psychedelic rock, bluegrass and even jazz. This was all heightened and amplified in Terrapin Station as the band adopted a fuller, more refined sound. Devoted fans and followers, known as none other than “Deadheads” had mixed receptions about the album, while critics praised it as the dead’s first time experimenting with music in an innovative, interesting way.

Rolling Stone Magazine called 1977 “The Grateful Dead’s Greatest Year”, with their tour being “the tightest, most consistently satisfying shows of their career”. Terrapin Station – the most unexpected release of their career – reached #28 on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually attaining platinum status. It was validating recognition for the group, with much of the kudos falling on the shoulders of producer Keith Olson, with guitarist Mickey Hart crediting him for their more “polished” and “disciplined” venture.

Gone were the days of hippies hugging each other and enter the times of complicated, crafted music with attention to instrumentation and lyrical details. Terrapin Station welcomed a bigger, bolder sound – even including the thunderous sounds of a full orchestra – truly marking a new checkpoint in the Dead’s career. Consequently, the Dead became emblematic of culture in the seventies, representing those who “make love not war”, as well as those who just want to appreciate some good music. It’s undeniable that 1977 was a year of growth, experimentation, and success for the Dead.

When you listen to this album, you’ll feel nostalgia for a time that you (probably) don’t know. It’s evocative of the hippie culture, the progressive political movements of the ‘70’s, and a solid effort towards creating unique music. The Grateful Dead are iconic, to this day, and Terrapin Station is a pivotal part of that memory.

Listen to it here:

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