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So Many Roads (1965-1995)
     

So Many Roads (1965-1995)

5.0 1
by Grateful Dead
 
A career retrospective from a band that arguably didn't make a decent studio record during the last 25 years of its four-decade existence might seem dubious. But by focusing on live stuff, rarities, and great demos, this five-disc set is the ideal long, strange trip -- a journey through Deadsville that could turn an alt-rock snob into a sandaled, psychedelic sailor.

Overview

A career retrospective from a band that arguably didn't make a decent studio record during the last 25 years of its four-decade existence might seem dubious. But by focusing on live stuff, rarities, and great demos, this five-disc set is the ideal long, strange trip -- a journey through Deadsville that could turn an alt-rock snob into a sandaled, psychedelic sailor. Beginning with some hot mid-'60s garage blues from the band's early days ("Cream Puff War"), moving through its countrified period (a wonderful 1970 take on "Mason's Children"), and riding through the massive hippie-renaissance festival that became the rest of its career, SO MANY ROADS defies the Dead's reputation as a rambling, indulgent ur-jam band to present an ethereal, sometimes hard-driving unit that could take its Garcia-derived country and Pigpen-inspired R&B to remarkable places. Covers of tunes by the Meters and Merle Haggard show their versatility, while the soundscapes generated during an eloquent 1979 live version of "Estimated Prophet" reach an abstract plane that even the coolest electronicat could enjoy, and the improv stretches on standards like "Playing in the Band" and "Dark Star" are among the Dead's most liquid and beautiful. Equally interesting are the album's imperfections. While the harmonies on "Mason's Children" are surprisingly strong, there are flat notes and missed cues, too. So, what emerges is a portrait of a band transcending its weaknesses as it dares to make great music. Check how Garcia's solos are almost always the product of invention, not virtuosity -- he vamps, he zones, plays triplets ad infinitum, but he rarely wanks. Ultimately, there's a cuteness to the botched singing on, say, "Shakedown Street," and when the band does lock in and the synergy spins skyward, the transportive power is undeniable. This is a must for completists and a boon to curious music fans who don't want to wade through lackluster studio albums.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
By the late '90s, box sets increasingly addressed the desires of ardent fans; since the uninitiated were satisfied with smaller compilations, a box set consisting mostly or entirely of unissued material often seemed more appropriate. Even within this paradigm, however, the Grateful Dead are an anomaly -- most of their studio recordings are disdained by fans devoted to privately distributed tapes of their live performances. How, then, to approach a Dead box set? The compilers have scoured the group's extensive vault for a five-CD set which includes only a few tracks that have ever been released in any medium. Adopting a roughly chronological sequencing, they sought out rare songs and, especially, performance highlights spanning the Dead's 30-year career. The compilers are second-generation Deadheads, fans who came to the band in the '70s and '80s, responding to the marathon-length live instrumental improvisations. Time and again, the songs here begin in normal fashion and then take off into uncharted territory; as long as the soloing is interesting, it doesn't matter if lyrics are blown or the singing is off-key. In many cases, the compilers are so enamored of the group's interplay that they include excerpts without the songs that begin or conclude them. The rare songs include selections from the Dead's unreleased 1965 sessions for Autumn Records, outtakes from Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, and rehearsals and live performances of songs intended for a Dead album that was never formally recorded. In short, So Many Roads (1965-1995) was obviously made by Deadheads for Deadheads. The Dead have succeeded over the years by addressing the interests of a cult that welcomes neophytes but also revels in its exclusivity; it's no surprise that their version of a box-set retrospective holds true to that course.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/09/1999
Label:
Arista
UPC:
0078221406628
catalogNumber:
14066

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Grateful Dead   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Mickey Hart   Composer
Jerry Garcia   Composer
Grateful Dead   Arranger,Composer
Bob Weir   Composer
Robert Hunter   Composer
David Gans   Producer,Liner Notes
Bill Kreutzmann   Composer
Phil Lesh   Composer
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan   Composer
Gary Lambert   Liner Notes
Geoff Gans   Artwork,Art Direction
Steve Silberman   Producer,Liner Notes
Richard Gehr   Liner Notes
Blair Jackson   Producer,Liner Notes
Eric Pooley   Liner Notes
Mikal Gilmore   Liner Notes

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So Many Roads (1965-1995) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
just listen !!!!!!