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For those with unlimited devotion to one of rock's greatest
on February 4, 2002
This is a perfect box set, doing what all good box sets should. It is comprehensive (Over 100 pages worth of essay and liner notes. It has excellent sound (recieving the digital remastering treatment). And it has plenty of unreleased material. (Over 7 hours, stretching each disc to 80 minutes in length) You can't go wrong with a 12 cd box set covering the golden era in Dead history.
Birth of the Dead: The Studio Sides- A disc of the Dead's earliest sessions in their entirety. This captures the Dead as a very loose garage band. Shows much influence from the music of early electric Bob Dylan and other folk rock acts of the day. 5 Stars
Birth of the Dead: The Live Sides- Some early material. Relatively typical of an early Dead concert as they explore folk, blues, and rock and spice it up with their own charisma. Though not as engaging as more legendary Dead performances still good. 4 stars.
The Grateful Dead- The first official album. Could have been good, but the Dead seemed to be rushing it and unlike Birth of the Dead couldn't loosen up to the studio. Does contain classic versions of Cream Puff War, Sitting on Top of the World, Morning Dew, and Viola Lee Blues. On live performances the Dead let loose, and are raw and rocking. Album: 4 stars Bonus Tracks: 5 stars
Anthem of the Sun- The second album, containing studio and live tracks merged together to make for a very experimental and interesting album. The Dead are looser and more psychadelic, most notably on their always essential That's It For the Other One jam and the bluesy Caution. Excellent live medley of alligator and caution in the bonus set. Some of the Dead's most psychadelically experimental rock. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
Aoxomoxoa- Step backward. Less experimental and a more pop sound. Does contain classic cuts St. stephen and China Cat Sunflower. Another excelent live jam set in the bonis tracks. Not as exciting as Anthem but still a good listen. Album 4 stars Bonus 5 stars
Live/Dead- The Dead's first full length live album is certainly one of the best psychadelic albums ever. Grabs you and doesn't let you go. All time classic jams such as Dark Star and The Eleven make this an all time Dead essential. 5 stars
Workingman's Dead- The first great studio album. After their first two studio albums (Anthem doesn't count) the Dead to come back to simple Americana music. Workingman's dead is mostly lighthearted folk and country, containing such classics as Uncle John's Band, Cumberland Blues, and Casey Jones. While most rock fans will want to ignore, fans of roots music will certainly enjoy it, and it is without a doubt the Dead's best studio album Bonus tracks are not as engaging. Album; 5 stars Bonus: 4 stars.
American Beauty- Much of the same. Catchy, lighthearted, and shows the Dead's maturity as musicians in full bloom. Mellow classics such as Sugar Magnolia, Box of Rain, Ripple, and Truckin' make this one of the Dead's greatest. While not as good as Workingman's Dead it is definetely great relaxation music. Bonus set is average and rather boring. Album: 5 stars Bonus 3 1/2 stars
Grateful Dead- The one originally to be Skull F***. With this live effort the Dead proved they could still be an awesome psychadelic rock band, pumping out a riveting The Other One and the all time greatest Dead song Playing with the Band, not to mention the classic ballad Wharf Rat and the classic medley Not Fade Away/Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. Impressive live outing. Fine bonus set. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 4 stars
Europe '72: The all time greatest Dead album. Two live discs of essential Dead, churning, folk and country rock favorites along with one of their greatest live jams (Truckin', Epilogue, Prelude, Morning Dew). '72 captures them performing at their loosest and most charismatic on stage. Not just for all Deadheads, but for everyone who loves good music as well. Excellent bonus set along the same guidelines. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
History of the Grateful Dead (Bear's Choice): An album used to end contract with Warner Bros. Fine album that captures the Dead unplugged and playing the blues very impressively. Many impressive moments from Pigpen, who died before this album was released. A fine live album with a fine bonus set. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
So if you have some cash to spend then might I consider the most comprehensive Grateful Dead set in the world. Even if you already have these albums you shall not regret it, I guarantee!