Ah, the Good ol' Grateful Dead. Love 'em or hate 'em, no one can deny that they were a true American institution and one of the most influential acts of their era. I could write at length about their significance to me, both growing up and today, but that's a topic for another article. For now, I'd like to stick to the concept I've been covering recently, which is box set retrospectives.
For a band of the Dead's magnitude, it's pretty hard to believe that something like this has never been made available commercially. The closest thing in their catalog is the 1999 So Many Roads set which, though good as it is, is comprised entirely of rare live material and studio outtakes. It's an important collection to own if you're already a fan, but one which generally overlooks the group's existent output, which means it's not a place to start if you're just getting into the band or if you want something a little more definitive.
As such, we've attempted to compile the first true career-spanning retrospective for the Grateful Dead-- one which reaches from their earliest days as the Warlocks through their 2003/04 post-Jerry reunion efforts when they were known as just the Dead. Through it all, attention was focused on presenting a multifaceted view of exactly what made the group so special. All the different styles and eras are well represented, with particular emphasis on the band's early-mid 70's heyday.
Since so much of the Grateful Dead story was told through their live shows, the plan was to weave both live and studio tracks into a seamlessly sequenced tour through their back catalog. Sets such as these can only really work if sequenced properly, and so every effort has been made to ensure that all transitions and/ or segues between tracks work flawlessly for the listener.
Against our standard operating procedure here, we've gone ahead and put together a full track listing .PDF so the more learned Deadheads amongst you can scope out recording dates for every track. All live sources are high quality complete soundboards, with studio tracks listed as such. We very much hope that this set will provide you with a clutch of go-to CDs for the car, or perhaps shine some new light on some old favorites by placing them in a new context.
As for those of you who aren't fully initiated yet, don't fear. If, like me, your initial point of entry into the Grateful Dead came via old warhorse compilations like Skeletons from the Closet, What a Long Strange Trip It's Been or The Arista Years, you'll hear all your old favorites here surrounded by plenty of other great stuff you may not be familiar with yet. Try it out one disc at a time and see if you don't become addicted.
Anyway, without any further ado, please enjoy and don't forget to be grateful!