Grateful Dead: Wake Of The Flood (1973)
In contrast to the psychedelia of the band's early work, or the rustic Americana of Workingman/Beauty, Wake of the Flood saw the band making a dramatic stylistic break, with a jazzier, more operatic sweep to the music. And it's a showcase for a phenomenal collection of Garcia-Hunter originals. "Eyes Of The World," besides being a live highlight in its elongated, jam-friendly form, is a delight in its studio version, mellow yet infectious, capturing Garcia's guitar stylings better than much of their recorded work, backed by a funky, loping rhythm and unusually sweet harmonies. "Here Comes Sunshine" is lovely and sophisticated; "Stella Blue" and "Row Jimmy" are engrossing ballads. "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" is a bit of a throwback to the colorful Americana of Europe '72 breakouts like "Tennessee Jed" or "Brown Eyed Women," with a rousing chorus, playful fiddles, and a simply gorgeous coda.
I'm generally less partial to Weir's contributions, but his closing "Weather Report Suite" is one of his finest songs, prog-like in its sweep; the opening segments are quite lovely, while the more rocking "Let It Grow" section sees the album closing out with a bit more energy, with a nice brass jam, though it kinda turns on how much one digs Bobby as a vocalist. One can quibble with "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away," the only Dead song fronted by keyboardist Keith Godchaux; it's more of a Band song than a Dead song, with some grating sax; still, it's brief, and even if it's a far cry from the Garcia/Weir numbers, it's an interesting if slight aside.
Here's a relatively concise live "Eyes of the World" from '74: