Bob Weir – Heaven Help The Fool (1978)

FrontCover1Heaven Help The Fool was the second solo album by Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, released in 1978. It was recorded during time off from touring, in the summer of 1977, while Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart recovered from injuries sustained in a vehicular accident. Weir returned to the studio with Keith Olsen, having recorded Terrapin Station with the producer earlier in the year. Several well-known studio musicians were hired for the project, including widely used session player Waddy Wachtel and Toto members David Paich and Mike Porcaro.

Unlike Weir’s previous solo album (Ace), none of the songs entered Grateful Dead set lists – except the title track, which was briefly played as an instrumental version in the Fall of 1980. Those performances were at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco (nine performances in September and October), twice at the Saenger Performing Arts Center in New Orleans, and six times at Radio City Music Hall in New York City (all in October).

Additionally, “Salt Lake City” was played at one Grateful Dead concert, in Salt Lake City, at the Delta Center, February 21, 1995. (by wikipedia)


Issued half a decade after his first solo LP, Ace (1972), Heaven Help the Fool is the antithesis of Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir’s debut effort. Although initially dismissed by critics and Deadheads alike as a slick, soulless, L.A.-sounding disc, the passage of time has somewhat mitigated that assessment — but not by very much. One of the primary factors in the decidedly over-produced and at times uncomfortable-sounding approach can be directly attributed to the absence of his Grateful Dead bandmates. This is in direct contrast to Ace — which was, in reality, a full-blown Dead album in disguise. Another common thread is producer Keith Olsen. As he had done with the Dead’s Terrapin Station (1977) long-player the previous year, Olsen obscures some uniformly interesting melodies with disco-laden arrangements, the most blatant offenders being “Wrong Way Feelin'” and a reworking of Marvin Gaye’s “I’ll Be Doggone.” They’re abused with synthesizer-drenched rhythms and disposable, generic backing vocals.


Even the array of studio talent — which includes Waddy Wachtel (guitar), David Foster (keyboards), fellow Bay Area Sons of Champlin-founder Bill Champlin (keyboards), Mike Porcaro (bass), Tom Scott (woodwinds), and former Elton John bandmembers Nigel Olsson (drums) and Dee Murray (bass) — is unable to salvage a majority of the material on Heaven Help the Fool. However, it is Weir’s uniformly strong original compositions — penned with longtime lyrical collaborator John Barlow — and well-conceived choice of cover tunes which suffer the most. Those wishing to hear infinitely more tolerable interpretations of tracks such as “Bombs Away,” “This Time Forever,” “Shade of Grey,” and Lowell George’s “Easy to Slip” should seek out Weir/Wasserman Live (1998). Likewise, the more industrious enthusiast might even wish to locate the Grateful Dead’s very occasional live versions of “Heaven Help the Fool” and “Salt Lake City.” (by Lindsay Planer)


Mike Baird (drums)
David Foster (keyboards)
David Paich (keyboards)
Mike Porcaro (bass)
+Bob Weir (guitar, vocals)
Bill Champlin (keyboards on 02., 03., 07. + 08, background vocals)
Dee Murray (bass on 02.)
Nigel Olsson (drums on  02. + 07.)
Peggy Sandvig (keyboards on 04.)
Tom Scott (saxophone on 01., 03. + 05.)
Waddy Wachtel (lead guitar on 02., 03. + 07.)
background vocals:
Carmen Twilley – Tom Kelly – Lynette Gloud


01. Bombs Away (Barlow/Weir) 5.05
02. Easy To Slip (George/Kibbee) 3.03
03. Salt Lake City (Barlow/Weir) 4.00
04. Shade Of Grey (Barlow/Weir) 4.23
05. Heaven Help The Fool (Barlow/Weir) 5.28
06. This Time Forever (Barlow/Weir) 4.06
07. I’ll Be Doggone (Moore/Robinson/Tarplin) 3.05
08. Wrong Way Feelin’ (Barlow/Weir) 5.07