Eagle Rock Entertainment's "Classic Albums" series hits its stride with "Anthem to Beauty," an exploration of how the Grateful Dead evolved between its 1968 experimental set, "Anthem of the Sun," and

Eagle Rock Entertainment's "Classic Albums" series hits its stride with "Anthem to Beauty," an exploration of how the Grateful Dead evolved between its 1968 experimental set, "Anthem of the Sun," and its 1970 classic, "American Beauty." The analysis of the Dead's accidentally innovative nature (using live and studio tracks on an album, then unheard-of, for example) is informative, but the hoot is the rare footage (Jerry Garcia sans beard) and comical stories that band members and associates recall. (The drug usage supplies the most hysterical tales.) Warner Bros. exec Joe Smith admits the label was afraid of the band and he himself thought Mickey Hart was certifiably nuts; even funnier is his remembering how Phil Lesh wanted to record Los Angeles smog and clean desert air to be mixed into a rhythm track. "Anthem" captures a golden time in the act's career, along with the philosophies of an era that, for all its excess, still retained a certain innocence.—CLT