It's far from hip to admit digging the Dead in many circles, but when it comes to music, bein' hip just ain't where it's at for me. While I make no claims of loving everything they did, there's a huge chunk of their work recorded up to around 1974 that I love dearly.
If you're a naysayer and have read so far, GREAT! You just may dig these early sides from the group.
First up we have a fantastic collaboration between the Dead and jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks (of vocal group Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross). On paper it shouldn't work, but this two sided slab of social commentary is truly one of the great lost singles of the '60's. These sides were recorded shortly before the Dead's 1967 debut LP, and finds the group at its bluesy, garagey best, capped off with a very soulful vocal from Mr. Hendricks.
Taken from The Dead's eponymous debut (1967), 'Cream Puff War' is a garage punker every bit as intense as Love's '7 & 7 Is', with a manic energy that was no doubt intensified by the groups (admitted) use of amphetamines during the sessions. Wish they would have explored this territory a bit more, but I'm thankful nonetheless that this one example was cut to wax.
As an added bonus, here's a tribute to the Dead from a fully psychedelicized Eric Burdon which was only released as a single in the UK in '67.