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Until this reissue was available, the only CD I'd heard was a pale-sounding 1989 release. While adequate, it certainly wasn't up to modern standards, and was way overdue to be remastered.
The new disc sounds incredibly good, particularly when you remember how long it's been since these recordings were made. Not only do the original tracks sound fuller and richer, more alive, but there's some additional material that's actually worth the purchase price. A lot of CD reissues have extra tracks that are mere filler, but these newly issued songs sound good enough to have merited inclusion on the original record. I have some mixed feelings about the long live version of "Viola Lee Blues," which runs more than 22 minutes and is obviously an attempt to capture the famed Live Dead experience. To me, it sounds like you really had to be there. Either there are mistakes by the band, or it's poor editing, but it doesn't add up to a great jam. (Compare it to Fleetwood Mac's live renditions of "Rattlesnake Shake" on the Boston Live discs and you'll see what I mean by a great jam.)
Four of the tracks are extended; instead of fading out as in the original edits. After listening to this record for the past 36 years it's a bit jarring, but the extra minute on "Goodbye Little School Girl" is worth listening to, as is the pyrotechnic close to "Cream Puff War."
It's great to have one of my all-time favorite records brought up to date, sounding fresher and more powerful than ever. Too bad I never caught one of their shows...
By 1967 the Grateful Dead had emerged from the bluegrass scene around San Francisco in the early 1960s, and decided to go electric after hearing bands such as the Rolling Stones. They had been around for about two years and had been under previous names such as the Warlocks and the Emergency Crew. They were signed to Warner Brothers Records in 1966 after Joe Smith, Warner Bros. president, saw them in San Francisco. The band at this time consisted of Jerry Garcia (vocals/lead guitar), Bob Weir (vocals/rhythm guitar) Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (vocals/harp/organ) and Phil Lesh (vocals/bass). This album was released in March 1967, recorded in a marathon time of about 70 hours. The album was very rough and tumble, and only one song hinted torwards the epic jams in their live shows - Viola Lee Blues.
To sum it up, this album is a classic. Since it was relesed right before the Summer of Love, it has important historical value as well as what could be the definition of San Fran psych rock. It is the perfect listen for people studying on the San Fran - Haight Ashbury scene of the mid-late 60s. Some of the tracks are drawn from their old jug-band repertoire, and others are just blues covers. But they do a top job on each cover, and come up with some great early band originals. Pigpen, the infamous ruddy blues singer/harp player, knocks the track Good Morning Little School Girl out of the ballpark. Some of the more poppish tracks establish the Dead's reputation for subpar singing- they certainly weren't on the par with other well-known singers of the time. They also cover Morning Dew, a faster version that isn't as great as their later live versions when they slowed the tempo way down.Read more ›
The Dead were fine musicians, always respected and paid homage to their influences by developing a unique hybrid of traditional blues and country,folk,jug and rock and roll within in a jazz setting.
Creating a new form emulated by so many of their contemporaries within rock may not have been their intention, but that is a defining element of their historical importance.
The sense of immediacy and existential NOW is keenly felt here.
Even the few tracks clocked in at 5 minutes or higher have a primal energy to it and is danceable..The beauty of this album is that it totally debunks the notion that the Dead were a jam band only and were not capable of laying down great songs in time spans under 3 minutes.They knew how to have a good time..
This CD features so many in concert staples later stretched out into what became Dead Head music listening to it again with the extra tracks and hdcd is very refreshing.
The homage paid to their wide musical roots and upping it by creating dynamic interesting music interplaying in 1967 double guitars and later a dual drum attack into some unique synthesis
that is both old and new was and is a rare accomplishment.
This album contains some of the Dead's best songs of all time, like Cold Rain and Snow. It has the best version of Morning Dew of anyone (even Nazereth).
Rhino (which is now owned by Warner Brothers) has done an excellent job of remastering all of the Warner Brothers' Grateful Dead albums. The sound quality is excellent. On this album, they also used the "full lenghth version" of many of the songs. The tracks around 10 to 20 seconds longer than what was on the original LP.
The other thing Rhino did on these re-issues was to add bonus tracks, using up every second of the CD, so that they are all 79 minutes long. The nice thing about the bonus material, is that there is a long pause between the end of the original material and the start of the bonus material. This allows you to fully take in the original album before being disrupted by the bonus material, which usually doesn't fit in with the flow of the original music.
The bonus material is interesting. A few studio tracks and then a 23 minute live version of Viola Lee Blues. It is a very nice version of the song. The only problem is that they ran out of disc space, and it all doesn't fit, so there is an awkard fade in and fade out.
The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers must have met at one time and shared ideas. There are places here where Garcia sounds like Duane Allman, and there are places on Live at Ludlow's Garage where the Allman Brothers sound like Gerry Garcia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I first began exploring (and eventually reviewing) the albums of the Grateful Dead? Ended up starting with their 70's and 80's albums. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Andre S. Grindle
This is the album that introduced the Grateful Dead to the world. It still retains its original power, especially on songs like "Beat it on Down the Line," "Good... Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Kenney
Nothing to add. They are who they are and that's why I got this.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Well, after the 'final' shows that just happened last weekend, it is high time to go back to the beginning. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kerrick Felts
I finally replaced my old vinyl copy of this. This 50-yo music is not as dated as one might expect; something maybe to expect, being the Dead. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Warren Hallila