Like many taking the on-ramp to the Dead, I remember the day I casually picked up the "American Beauty/Workingman's Dead" 2-in-1 tape in the bargain bin at Best Buy.
That cassette got a lot of play in the summer of '95 cruising around in the old Ford Taurus. However, it didn't take long for me to discover Dick's Picks (archival high-quality live shows released with the Dead's blessing), and after that moment I rarely went back to studio Dead.
Maybe you've gone down the same road.
I've had LP copies of every significant Grateful Dead album in my collection for as long as I can remember but I've never enjoyed them as much as I have this past summer while reading Buzz Poole's "Workingman's Dead" companion published in the 33 1/3 Series. (edition #112)
In 1970 the band was riding the wave of two successful initial releases, but the changing scene around Haight St. (San Fransisco) coupled with a series of professional and personal setbacks grounds the band in a deeper Americana groove. Oh yeah, and they're broke.
Through the Robert Hunter's winding blues, early Americana tales, and the reoccurring theme of "damned if I do, damned if I don't"- there's a whole lot of barbeque pit boss in this album.
Light the coals, throw on a slab, grab a bottle of red-whiskey and see if you can find it for yourself.