A broken angel sings, from a guitar, In the end there's just a song ... (still that song) Come's cryin' like the wind, Down every lonely street that's ever been...(Stella Blue). That song at the end is Weather Report Suite, but the journey through this wonderful album is like a dream in a way.
I have had Wake for almost 30 years, and it was always up there on my list of favorite DEAD albums. I personally was a bit more into Blues for Allah, American Beauty and Workingman's on the studio album front since they really absorbed me as a teen. After all these years, I truly have to say this is the equal (in my mind) to every "best" album of the DEAD you can think of, live or studio! I know many DEAD lovers will quibble, but this in some ways is their most perfect recording...so smooth and pleasant. Not quite the fire and spontaneity of Blues for Allah, but at least as much underlying beauty and musicianship. Not quite as catchy as American Beauty or Workingman's...but just as great songwriting and consistency. The quiet nature of some of the songs require careful and meditative attention to fully appreciate, but is it ever worth it. Stella Blue for instance, is sweet enough to reduce you to Jello. I personally love the Weir song Weather Report Suite - very intricate and well-crafted (the demo on the remaster is great too, bare bones beauty of guitar and vocal). Row Jimmy Row plucks the old soul fibers with it's catchy slow shuffle. This provided much material for concerts of the future.
Here Comes Sunshine MIGHT have made a better beginning and introduction to Wake; The signature chimey, joyful Garcia guitar intro, Lesh bouncing off the walls, takes your spirit immediately to Dead Heaven. That song sticks in your head like gum on hot pavement, has a great hook and the title itself sets up the anticipation and atmosphere (ears will quickly find congruity with the lyrics: "Wake of the flood, laughing water ... get out' the way"). With that change, Vassar Clements nice additions (fiddle) in Toodeloo would be less of an abrupt (intro, new sound) change - that song would nicely lead into Weather Report Suite it seems to me. You will be picking up the pieces of your emotional body double after Stella Blue ... Let Me Sing Your Blues Away would be welcome relief between it and Eyes Of The World (another charming song that wrings-out drops of your love for humanity, if you still have it in you).
I now have both of the unbelievably great box sets to replace the many records and cassettes (and a few older cd's), and the sound quality is something I clearly was missing! They have never sounded so good before! The addition of an earlier (and different) version of China Doll goes further to make this album perfect. There is also a 17 minute live Eyes of the World that kicks! Wake is absolutely one of the deepest DEAD records in my opinion and will certainly reward anyone who opens their ears and lets it soak into their souls. Really people, turn it up and ENJOY --- it doesn't get much better than this (the people who constantly try to tell everyone that only the live albums are worthy are trippin').
It all rolls into one, and nothin' comes for free, there's nothing you can hold for very long ... It seems like all this life was just a dream (Stella Blue again).