The Best of The Grateful Dead
It’s Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Season if you didn’t already know. It’s also 20 years since Jerry Garcia, spiritual centre of the band, left this world to spiral on elsewhere, down some other tie-dyed highway. The band has played its last ever shows under that name (again) and are heading out on the road under a different name – and with John Mayer playing guitar.
All of this means it’s time to sell some merch too – so here’s a double-disc best-of; one of far too many Grateful Dead compilations. I’ve never thought this band anthologised all that well, certainly the key to the Dead is in the live shows, and in the small handful of terrific, early albums. Bootlegs are often fan-favourites and they never – really – had a hit single.
But, let’s just look at this for what it is – a fine enough selection of highlights for fairweather fans, and a decent day-trip, as it were, through a vast and messy catalogue.
The second disc has the twiddly-dee pop of Touch of Grey, which sounds better here than it ever did. And other late-career things like Hell In A Bucket, Blow Away and Foolish Heart are all pleasant. But the real magic is in the epic Terrapin Station, the quirky Feel Like A Stranger and in all of that early cosmic glory: China Cat Sunflower, St. Stephen, Uncle John’s Band, Truckin, Box of Rain, Friend of The Devil, Ripple and Eyes of the World.
Wow, you reel those names out now and have to marvel at the fact they never really had a hit. Those area all hits for me.
Wonderful band to my ears. A load of lazy hippie-twaddle .to others. Not sure how they could only hear that when they were all at once one of the finest – and first – “Americana” bands, and when they stretched out, those guitar solos fluid, tumbling, those wonderful jazz-like rhythm parts beneath, well it made you forget about anything. And everything. As only the best music can.
So you don’t need this at all. Or you need to reconnect – or to start the trip.