History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear's Choice) [Bonus Tracks]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
This 1973 release was the very last collection that the Grateful Dead authorized during their tenure with Warner Bros. in the late '60s and early '70s. However, this live disc was a sort of melancholy affair, as it centered on material featuring Ron "Pigpen" McKernan guitar/vocals/mouth harp, who had left the band due to illness in June of the previous year. History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 Bear's Choice is somewhat misleading, as a follow-up never came to pass. Band historians, however, claim that this release was optimistically titled because the label had hoped to issue a series of live recordings à la Dick's Picks containing highlights from a variety of vintage ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
This 1973 release was the very last collection that the Grateful Dead authorized during their tenure with Warner Bros. in the late '60s and early '70s. However, this live disc was a sort of melancholy affair, as it centered on material featuring Ron "Pigpen" McKernan guitar/vocals/mouth harp, who had left the band due to illness in June of the previous year. History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 Bear's Choice is somewhat misleading, as a follow-up never came to pass. Band historians, however, claim that this release was optimistically titled because the label had hoped to issue a series of live recordings à la Dick's Picks containing highlights from a variety of vintage Dead performances. Alas, with the formation of the group's own label, it was not to be. The single disc includes performances from a highly touted series of shows held over two nights February 13-14, 1970 at the Fillmore East in New York City. While most assuredly not the finest example of the Dead's formidable acoustic sets, the platter opens with a quartet of cover tunes -- many of which had been entries in Jerry Garcia guitar/vocals and McKernan's folky jug band repertoire prior to ultimately forming the electric, psychedelic Grateful Dead. McKernan's playful cover of Lightnin' Hopkins' "Katie Mae" is a somewhat lightweight affair. He counterbalances ad-libbed lyrics with his own very sparse solo guitar picking, which is in perfect keeping with the lonesome nature of this blues. Garcia and Bob Weir guitar/vocals join in on the remaining "unplugged" tracks. Both the affective and noir "Dark Hollow" and "I've Been All Around This World" reveal the command of this highly underutilized subdivision of the Dead. Clocking in at seven-plus minutes, the album's sole original composition, "Black Peter," is masterfully executed. It ultimately bests the original Workingman's Dead 1969 version in sheer emotive realization. The two electric offerings -- a cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" and Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" -- are full-blown rave-ups allowing the entire band to weave its collective R&B-influenced psychedelia, unedited and in real time. Both tracks had become assertive vehicles for McKernan's no-nonsense R&B sensibilities. In 2001, History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 Bear's Choice was included in the 12-disc Golden Road 1965-1973 box set, and in 2003 was also made available by Rhino and Warner Strategic Marketing as a stand-alone purchase. This remastered edition comes replete with a newly inked 16-page liner notes insert containing an essay from "the Bear" aka Owsley Stanley himself. The expanded track list yields four additional performances from the same cache of shows: the McKernan-led "Good Lovin'," "Big Boss Man," a second and equally scintillating version of "Smokestack Lightning," and an uptempo "Sitting on Top of the World," the latter of which keeps the frenetic spirit of the reading from the Dead's self-titled debut firmly intact.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/25/2003
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227440022
  • Catalog Number: 74400
  • Sales rank: 23,326

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Grateful Dead Primary Artist
Mickey Hart Drums
Jerry Garcia Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
Bob Weir Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals
Bill Graham Spoken Word
Bill Kreutzmann Drums
Phil Lesh Bass
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Organ, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
Technical Credits
Grandpa Jones Composer
Mickey Hart Composer
Jerry Garcia Composer
Otis Redding Composer
Bob Weir Composer
Robert Hunter Composer
Al Smith Composer
Walter Vinson Composer
James Austin Reissue Producer
Felice Bryant Composer
Boudleaux Bryant Composer
Howlin' Wolf Composer
Lonnie Chatmon Composer
Joe Gastwirt Mastering
Bill Graham Introduction
Lightnin' Hopkins Composer
Bill Kreutzmann Composer
Phil Lesh Composer
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Composer
Owsley Stanley Producer, Audio Production
Gary Peterson Discographical Annotation
Luther Dixon Composer
Rudy Clark Composer
David Singer Artwork
Bill Browning Composer
Shawn Amos Liner Note Coordination
Daniel Goldmark Editorial Research
Traditional Composer
Alvertis Isbell Composer
David Lemieux Reissue Producer
Arthur Resnick Composer
Bear Liner Notes
Chester Burnett Composer
Allen Jones Composer
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