Several years before his death in 1995, Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia frequently visited his old friend, mandolin player David Grisman. The two would retreat to Grisman's studio to play and record the kind of folk, bluegrass and old-time music they had begun their careers with in the early-1960s.
Two albums worth of material were released by the duo prior to Garcia's death, and three have been released since then.
Been All Around This World is the culmination of more than 40 Jerry Garcia and David Grisman recording sessions, and as that informal recording of the title track shows, this CD does a good job of capturing the duo's friendship. The 12 songs reflect the many musical styles the two loved: Folk, Celtic, pop, blues, and old-time country songs are all represented. There are also a few surprises, such as the cover of James Brown's I'll Go Crazy. Stripped of its soul roots, the song now has a bluesy bluegrass feel to it.
Less surprising, but equally enjoyable is the duo's take on country legend Jimmie Rodgers' Blue Yodel Number 9. The CD's liner notes don't show a date for this take, but we do know it was from Garcia's final recording session.
Jerry Garcia and David Grisman are joined by Sally Van Meter's dobro on Blue Yodel Number 9 off of the duo's new release, Been All Around This World. Both Grisman and Garcia led bands that spent much time on the road, so these recordings were made in the scant spare time the two had over a multi-year period. Whenever they did have free moments, the two old pals enjoyed getting together in Grisman's studio, just to fool around while the tape machine was recording. Thankfully, the mandolinist has chosen to share their best efforts with the public.
Given that Garcia has now been gone for almost 10 years, Been All Around This World may be final installment of acoustic recordings by the two old friends. Like the previous releases, this CD is not perfect, but is fun to listen to.
The set works remarkably well, considering that it is made up of not just leftovers that didn't fit onto the earlier Garcia-Grisman releases, but that it's made up tracks that were recorded just for fun, and were never intended for release. There is only one instrumental on Been All Around This World. It's a new version of the traditional song Handsome Cabin Boy, retitled the Handsome Cabin Boy Waltz.