In October 1974-at the pinnacle of their global fame-the Grateful Dead played five consecutive shows at San Francisco's legendary Winterland venue that were recorded and filmed for the 1977 motion picture release The Grateful Dead Movie. This incredible 5-CD soundtrack presents all the music from the movie plus 32 bonus tracks, including 20 songs exclusive to this set. Rhino. 2005.
More than just a significantly expanded soundtrack to the new DVD edition of the band's 1974 documentary
, the five discs here (taken from a five-night stand at San Francisco's fabled Winterland in October) also document the end of an early Dead era, capturing extensive highlights from the band's final gigs before beginning a performance hiatus that would last until 1976. Typically expansive in scope, yet tightly focused in the interplay of its performances, the anthology kicks off with a brisk slate of upbeat early favorites and then settles back as the band wends its way through spacious, jazzy jams ("Eyes of the World," "Playing in the Band," "Weather Report Suite"), roots-conscious workouts, and the fervent mysticism of Deadhead touchstones like "Dark Star." The recordings also capture the return to action of drummer Mickey Hart after a three-plus-year layoff, and showcase separate percussion solo interludes from both Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Containing a considerable number of rich live takes that failed to make the DVD set's bonus outtake disc, this is a an expansive, riveting evocation of the band's early '70s prime--a must for any dedicated Deadhead. --Jerry McCulley