• Grateful Dead

    Built to Last

    October 31, 1989

    Arista
The 21st Dead album, their last to be recorded in the studio.


  • Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals)
  • Mickey Hart (drums)
  • Bill Kreutzmann (drums)
  • Phil Lesh (bass)
  • Brent Mydland (keyboards, vocals)
  • Bob Weir (guitar, vocals)

(0) Additional Personnel


Album Notes

The Grateful Dead originally wanted to record this album using the method that had proven successful for their previous album, In The Dark, by laying down the basic tracks in a pseudo-live situation at the Marin County Veterans Auditorium. But this approach didn’t work the second time around.

They ended up using a much different method. A basic rhythm and song structure was decided for each piece then each band member worked individually on their own parts. The complete songs were not heard until each part was mixed by Garcia and Cutler.

Garcia commented on the album, and compared it to their previous album, In The Dark, in an interview: “…[it’s] a lot more considerate of the material, and it’s much more of a record in that each song has it’s own personality in a more controlled kind of way. The fundamental sound of the thing is better, and also, the space in which they occur is better. It has better vocals and better songs, too.”

It was during the recording of Built to last that Garcia spoke about the Dead in the recording studio: “Mostly, recording, for us, is like pulling teeth. We’ve never been able to find a way to make it fun. For me the hard part is being a producer and a performer; finding that objective ear used to drive me crazy, especially the way the Grateful Dead works.”

Built To Last was the first Dead album to benefit from the Dead’s increased use of MIDI technology.

The house of cards used on the cover was built by Garcia’s daughter, Anabelle, and her friends. Garcia spoke about the cover in an interview: “…I thought it up, it’s the first time I’ve ever had any record cover thoughts…I thought it was more of a joke really. It’s the idea of ‘built to last’ – kind of pretentious. I wanted to kind of let some of the air out of that idea…I think looking at it now I would have done it slightly differently but next time I’ll know better. I really wanted the house to loom a little larger and the band to be a little smaller…I didn’t want a portrait of the band. I wanted the band to be insubstantial, shadowy figures in the background, and I wanted the house of cards to be the star of the picture.”


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