Sunday, December 13, 2015

Keith & Donna - Keith & Donna (1975)

This is the first and only album by Keith & Donna Godchaux, the husband-and-wife duo that joined the Grateful Dead in the early 1970s. She sang; he played keyboards and also sang some. Most Deadheads are very familiar with them because the time period they were in the Dead is generally considered the band's best era.

That's the good part. The bad part is that in the world of the Grateful Dead, singer Donna Godchaux is generally not well liked, at least in the musical sense. The reason for this is that her on-stage vocals were often off-key, which marred a lot of tapes of their otherwise-blissful '70s stage shows.

But Godchaux's vocal issues came about because she was really a studio session singer who didn't quite adapt to live performances, especially since the Dead's '70s-era set-up didn't always allow her to hear herself properly. This album shows that given the right environment, she really could sing.

The only problem is the songs. You're not exactly getting Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter level compositions here. Very few of these original melodies will stick in your head. Still, it's nice to hear Donna and Keith (who died five years after this release) get into a groove on their own.

Plus, the sound here captures the feel of a long-lost era. This was recorded in the couple's living room, with longtime Dead recording engineer Bob Matthews setting up a makeshift recording studio and hauling in a gigantic Steinway piano for Keith. Also, Garcia sings and plays on the entire record, including the a cappella "Who Was John," where you can clearly hear his voice.

The album was originally released on the Dead's own Round Record label, which they set up to issue solo records by band members, even though that wasn't always the case. Round Records released a total of ten albums and the most popular of the lot have been issued on CD. This release is unlikely to ever go back in print, be it on CD, LP, or otherwise. This rip is from near-mint vinyl found at Joe's Record Paradise, now located in Silver Spring, MD.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Donna, Round Records, or about some of the Dead's more obscure releases, I'd recommend the book "Grateful Dead FAQ," which can be bought on sale at

Track list:
1. River Deep, Mountain High
2. Sweet Baby
3. Woman Makes You
4. When You Start To Move
5. Showboat
6. My Love For You
7. Farewell Jack
8. Who Was John
9. Every Song I Sing



  2. I thought all the Dead sang off key or were otherwise miserable in the vocals department

  3. ^not true regarding Jerry, one of the most soulful singers EVER