Along with Workingman's Dead, American Beauty represented a peak for the post-lysergic Dead. Abandoning the sonic experiments that marked their previous albums, the Dead simplified the music, while concentrating on expanded vocal harmonizing. Their most successful album (at least until their mid 80's In The Dark mega-stardom); American Beauty was a synthesis of folk, country, bluegrass and rock. Classic tracks such as "Truckin" and "Sugar Magnolia" are still rock radio staples. The (mostly) Robert Hunter penned lyrics focus on death (There is a terrific dvd available called Anthem To Beauty , which digs deep into the making of the album.
I am posting up a different take on American Beauty. I compiled live versions of the songs (ranging from the acoustic tour of 1970 through the mid 80's) from the album, in the same order as the lp. Quality on the cuts varies from audience to soundboard, but it gives a pretty good overview of the album, and how it evolved over the years.
I hope you enjoy it.