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Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses)

4.7 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Grateful Dead [Skull & Roses] [Live]
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Audio CD, March 25, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Two ultra-rare bonus tracks: Oh, Boy! and I'm a Hog for You .

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Bertha
  2. Mama Tried
  3. Big Railroad Blues
  4. Playing In The Band
  5. The Other One
  6. Me & My Uncle
  7. Big Boss Man
  8. Me & Bobby McGee
  9. Johnny B. Goode
  10. Wharf Rat
  11. Not Fade Away/Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
  12. Oh, Boy!
  13. I'm A Hog For You
  14. Bonus Track 1


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 1971
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00007LTIM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,407 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Many years have come and gone, and many records have come along by the Dead, especially with the Dick's Picks series of "official bootlegs." Some of those are fantastic (see my reviews of DP22 from 1968, DP16 from 1969, DP4 & DP8 from 1970, DP23 from 1972, and DP10 from 1977). But SKULL & ROSES still stands among the absolute best of all Dead live recordings! Every time I play it I think to myself "why have I been listening to anything else?" It has lost nothing to time, not to my ears. There is a lot of "first set" material here, the sort of songs the band would basically warm up with before launching off into cosmic jams, but they're all of high quality. On the original vinyl it was easy to deal with -- Sides 1 and 3 were the "first set" songs, and Sides 2 ("The Other One") and 4 ("Wharf Rat" and "Not Fade Away/Goin' Down the Road") were the jams. I played Side 3 less often than the others, but listening now, it sounds great. This makes great driving music, and nowadays that's how I'm most likely to hear it.

The highlights are the amazing jams -- "The Other One," the end of "Wharf Rat," and "Not Fade Away/Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad," with one of those patented instrumental transitions from one to the other. Garcia's guitar throughout is just PERFECT, from his solos on "Bertha" right on through -- SKULL & ROSES definitely captures some of his best playing. The band sounds tight -- Mickey Hart had left, but Kreutzmann is right on it, you don't miss him at all.

There are purists who want only entire shows (which is what many of the Dick's Picks are), and this patches together shows from Winterland, the Fillmore East and the Manhattan Center (no dates provided, though I know the Fillmore material overlaps with LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...). The solution is -- don't be a purist if you don't want to miss out!
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Format: Audio CD
This is a live album with almost no annoying background noise from the audience. That alone would make it worth 5 stars. I don't know why there is a need to add in cheering on live albums. It doesn't have to be there. When a group is recorded live, there are specially arranged microphones to pick up the audience cheers. I don't need to hear an audience cheer to know what is good. It is like adding a laugh track to a TV show. I know what is funny.

Listening to this album, it is hard to believe it was recorded live, especially by the Grateful Dead. The sound quality is very good (but not perfect).

What is really amazing is the live performance of the Dead. It is crisp, tight and controlled. It is like they are playing in the studio, with retakes and overdubs. Even the 18 minute Other One sounds like it is under control. I love the long winded, rambling jams of the Dead, but this change of pace is also great.

The song selection and interpretation of the songs is great. There are a number of country songs from contemporary song writers of the time, like Merle Haggard. They are played in new and interesting ways (for that time). Then there are the longer songs, like Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away and the Other One. You can tell that the Other One was pulled out of a longer jam. It would be interesting to hear the entire piece.

Rhino records has done a wonderful job of remastering all of the original Warner Brothers Dead LP's. The original CD release was not bad, but here the sound is enchanced even more with HDCD. Each remastered CD contains extensive liner notes and bonus tracks, filling all 80 minutes of the CD length. Since the original album was 74 minutes long, there is not too much room for extras here.
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Format: Audio CD
This album is well reviewed by various listeners. I appreciate Alan Sandler's review pointing out Bob Weir's work on the bridge between Not Fade Away and Goin'Down the Road. Another excellent example of Bobby's ability to lead the transition between songs in medleys can be found in Europe 72's China Cat/I Know You Rider combo. In both of these recordings, Weir lays out the plot with Jerry providing punctuation, then when the mood is set, Garcia is able to elaborate on the story with soaring lines that truly define the Dead during this era. Listen closely to the stereo separation on these recordings and it becomes easier the distinguish these two very different guitar styles that blended so seamlessly together.
Another facet of the Skull and Roses recordings that is underappreciated in my mind is the drumming of Bill Kreutzman throughout this album. Kreutzman once said that drumming should feel like dancing, and if you want to hear a drummer dancing to the sound of a band in its prime, just listen to the drum tracks here. I love Mickey Hart and his contributions not only to the Dead, but to percussion in general, but to my ears,the single drum set on this recording lends a simplicity and purity that is seldom evident on Dead outings with the full double drum set-up.
One more item that stands out and separates this live recording from others that came before and after, was the engineering of the sound. The Dead were surrounded by technical people who loved the music and found a way to give it life on vinyl (and digital media). The sound here is remarkable, especially in light of the fact that the technological leaps that were just around the corner, were not at the disposal of the bands at that time.
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