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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incomplete masterpiece
The book provides some very useful and insightful information. As a veteran of some 50+ shows I learned more than I thought I would I read the book. However, it is almost like it was written in a hurry. The author should have had more friends and heads contribute to the book.
For instance, how could the writer completely overlook some of those great 1988 shows...
Published on July 24, 2001 by K. Schultheis

versus
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are You Dead To The Core ?
The title actually allready answeres the question if this book should be bought. It is a good read and it is fun to search thru the book (you can always find something interesting), it is full of more or less valid information , the only thing i have to say against this book is that it is questionable how many people are interested in the kind of information that...
Published on August 4, 2000 by Jurij Crepinko


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incomplete masterpiece, July 24, 2001
By 
K. Schultheis "kb" (baltimore, md United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
The book provides some very useful and insightful information. As a veteran of some 50+ shows I learned more than I thought I would I read the book. However, it is almost like it was written in a hurry. The author should have had more friends and heads contribute to the book.
For instance, how could the writer completely overlook some of those great 1988 shows (e.g., when the Boys broke Ripple at the Cap Centre). Also, he rambled on and on about how great he thought the Maine shows were that summer. Obviously, he was there and had a great time, but those shows were just plain average at best. There was just too much subjective content and not enough input from other heads.
I also disagree with the fact that he skipped over whole periods of Dead evolution. To skip over the years 1982-84 is ludicrous. Remember this is when we heard St. Stephen again and Brent came into his own.
Also, he should have had more fact checkers. He referred to a Cap Center show in 1991 as a great one in which the Boys broke out a Stir it Up Jam for the first time, but he overlooked the Stir it Up Jam in Hampton in 1988. (Again, his review of this show baffles, because he does not even mention the Ruben & Cherise show from two nights before, which was the highlight of the four-night run at the Cap Centre that year. Obviously, he went to the show he reviewed and not the Ruben & Cherise show).
That said, if you want to read one head's subjective ramblings of his own experience mixed with some very insightful information, this is a good book. Plus, if you are building a collection, he gives some excellent suggestions for additions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so many roads, December 15, 2004
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
This book sneaks up on you. Is it definitive? No. Is it all-encompassing? No. Is it authoritative. No.

It is, however, a unique love letter to a unique organization. I fell in love with this book little by little, often while having a beer or ten. A feeling of old friends reminiscing about shows gone by creeps over me until I can stand no more, put the book down, and head for the tapes.

And ultimately that is the reason I recommend this book so highly. It'll make you want to taste the dead again for the first time. Or something like that...

Cheers
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in depth exploration of the Dead and Head psyche, June 16, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
One of the best GD books I have had the opportunity to read. Eric Wybenga is deadhead 1st and foremost, then a writer. Writes from a familiar perspective and delves beneath the surface of Dead original and cover tunes. He successfully captures the true exhilaration and excitement experienced by "heads" about the meaning/magic that comes accross through the music and atmosphere of a Dead Show. Not merely history, Eric's work inspires the reader to rediscover some great music and memories hidden in his/her personal "vault". A very unique and well executed deviation from the "norm" established by most other books about the Dead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Newbies Too!!, July 19, 2008
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
In 1997 I became a Deadhead. Somehow I had never got around to listening to them. At that time I was bored with much of the current music scene and tired of all the other music in the world. I was completely jaded. The Grateful Dead were a conspicuous "missing" in my musical education, so I decided I'd find out what all the hoopla was about. (Note that Garcia had been dead for 2 years at that point. I never saw him play live.)

An acquaintance recommended a couple of CDs to check out... I did and I was totally hooked! I then went out looking for a book about the band. I needed to know more about the history of this music that was unlike anything I had heard before and still so familiar. The first book I picked up was Dead To The Core. It was a total crash course in the history and lore of the Dead all told in the vernacular of the Deadheads. I dug it tremendously!

I've since read just about every other book ever published about the Grateful Dead (and listened to every album and hundreds of show tapes) and I still think of this as an excellent introductory book. Wybenga doesn't hold your hand. He pushes you into the deep end. It's sink or swim! But these days you are easily buoyed by the availability of resources like archive.com to provide access to key reference material.

Whether you're new to the Dead or if you've been on the bus for years, check out this book. You'll enjoy it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute must for Dead tapers!!!, August 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
This book is an essential for both new and long-time dead tape collectors. On the newbie side, it is the best reference I have seen to this point discussing must have shows and best song versions to collect. On the long-time side, it opens up subjective discussions as to what exactly is the best show of a particular year or version of a song. At times you can't agree more with Mr. Wybenga and at others you think, how can he say that? In fact I'm about to purchase another because the first one is falling apart because I have opened it one too many times.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are You Dead To The Core ?, August 4, 2000
By 
Jurij Crepinko (Maribor, Slovenia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
The title actually allready answeres the question if this book should be bought. It is a good read and it is fun to search thru the book (you can always find something interesting), it is full of more or less valid information , the only thing i have to say against this book is that it is questionable how many people are interested in the kind of information that this book provides (taping, quallity of cassetes, etc.)and that it is only apropriate for people who have been deadheads for a long time. So if you are an old deadhad and have miles on the road with the Dead behind, go on and buy the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading and lots of good lists, August 11, 2007
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
It's Eric's personal opinions of dead shows, now somewhat dated. But it's fun reading if you're a deadhead. There's some "must have" shows he describes, lots of anecdotes and "oh by the ways" . He's got a lot of enthusiasm and it's clear he has the true religion.

It's a good book to pick up if you find it remaindered, or used.

I bought it new and it's dog eared, highlighted, and back broken. Obviously I liked it and kept it around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL READING FOR DEAD HEADS, October 4, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
Of all the authorized and unauthorized Dead tomes, this one is the absolute best I've come across. Concert sets, trivia, history and so much more. A LOT MORE! This is an absolute must for those who weren't around to witness the classic shows or for those of us whose memories that aren't what they used to be...
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you want a book about the Grateful Dead's MUSIC and shows, this is one of the very best, August 1, 2014
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This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
This is one of the most entertaining and useful books about the Grateful Dead that there is. It EASILY makes my Top 5.

I have an awful lot of books about the Dead. Most of them I have read once and don't ever pick back up. Dead to the Core isn't just fun to read, it is actually one hell of a good resource.

This book works extremely well as a companion to the Taper's Compendium Books (which I also consider to be top notch as far as being something both entertaining and useful for Deadheads).

What makes Dead to the Core particularly notable is that it really focuses on the music and not the ancillary BS. Not only that, but Eric Wybenga really knows the Dead's music. This book has very good general information, background, and descriptions about the various years it covers (e.g., it calls the period that Tom Constanten was with the band, primarily 1969, the Baroque period and describes it well). It has more detailed descriptions about some of the particularly good or notable shows from the periods it describes (a big chunk), as well as just all sorts of useful lists. Some of the lists include particularly good or notable shows from the period being discussed, lists of particularly good versions of songs, lists of particularly good jams, etc.

It is the shows that the author has picked to write about and to include on his lists that reveal both a depth of knowledge that very, very, very few Deadheads can match and, IMHO, pretty discerning taste. For example, I am a big China Cat --> Rider fan. I have actively sought out the best versions I could find. There are a number of excellent versions on the official releases (e.g., Dick's Picks 12 & 19, Dave's Picks 5). My three favorite versions of China--> Rider, however, were not on any of the official releases. Anyway, the author enthusiastically described one version from a show that I hadn't heard before. I knew the show; I have had a copy of part of it for 20 years. The part I did have, however, didn't have the China Cat --> Rider in it. So, I grabbed the full show to listen to the China Cat --> Rider. Anyway, the author nailed it. That version of China Cat --> Rider jumped to the very top of my list, past my prior 3 favorites that hadn't been officially released, past Dick's Picks 12 (6/26/74), etc.

I don't necessarily agree with all aspects of the author's taste or assessment of the Dead's music. For example, he is way, way more enthusiastic about Brent than I ever have been: He appears to regard Brent joining the band as a big plus. I don't. As far as the Dead's keyboard players go, I liked TC best: He knew how to play where he was adding nice stuff without obscuring what Jerry, Bob, and Phil had going on. Keith had his moments in his early years too where he contributed nice stuff without being an obstruction problem.

To my ear, Brent had absolutely no finesse or sense of what worked and what didn't. I think a significant part of that was Brent just being mixed too loud. Way, way too loud most of the time. But still, Brent didn't have lick of sense about when he should be playing and when he shouldn't be playing or playing very, very softly so that he wasn't obscuring the exchanges going on between Bob, Jerry, and Phil.

But, despite having a fundamentally different opinion about the merits of Brent as the Dead's keyboard player, I still have a healthy respect for the author's assessment of when the Dead played well during the Brent years. I enjoy a lot of the music from the Brent years: Some of it is very good. I just find myself thinking how much better it could have been if Brent hadn't been the problem he was. There are some things that Eric points out from the Brent years that I would concur with as being excellent calls. But, frankly, I don't know that period as well as I do their earlier music. So, my only criticism at this point (i.e., until I get a chance to listen the later year stuff that the author points out as being good, but which I have not heard yet), is that he seems a whole lot more enthusiastic about Brent than I am. And that isn't really a criticism: It is a minor difference in taste about part of their whole body of work.

I now regard Dead to the Core as an indispensable resource. It not only has a great deal of information about the music, the choices reveal a very thorough listening foundation and discerning taste for their earlier material, which is what I am most familiar with. Dead to the Core has joined Taper's Compendium Vols. 1 and 2, and Deadbase as the reference resources I use when I am evaluating which shows to try to add to my collection (I don't try to get everything: I try get the best stuff).

What is particularly impressive is that Dead to the Core was written in 1997. The author had managed to acquire and listen to one heck of a lot music for back then (presumably tapes, at least for the most part back then). I collected tapes myself for about 20 years before computers and digital stuff suddenly made widely available a whole lot more stuff and usually a whole lot better quality stuff (at least in terms of having a copy that was closer to the original source rather than multiple tape dub generations back). It was much more of a pain back then, but the author obviously managed to acquire a remarkable amount of material to listen to.

I actually wish the author would do a second edition to Dead to the Core, or another similar work that includes discussion of the shows that have become available since 1997. There is a substantial amount of material out there now that was not available in 1997, or had very, very limited availability. I have no doubt that if the author did an update, second edition or whatever, it would be high quality and very useful.

Dead to the Core is a great resource book about the Grateful Dead's music as well as a very fun read. I highly recommend it.

(For good books that are not quite as much reference-type material, Phil Lesh's "Searching for the Sound" is superb: It is not only a great read, it offers insight at a level that nothing else can. Blair Jackson's "The Music Never Stopped" and "Garcia" are also excellent books of a more general nature.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reference, August 24, 2014
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This review is from: Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead (Paperback)
This book was a surprise treat. Wybenga is a real writer and he shares many insights into this endlessly-analyzed band. If you think you know it all about the Dead, read this and discover some hidden gems you may have passed over before. All eras of the band are treated relatively equally, with a few personal biases here and there. I dog-eared a bunch of pages for further study on the Live Music Archive.
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Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead
Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead by Eric F. Wybenga (Paperback - July 7, 1997)
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