Very Best of Grateful Dead

The Very Best of Grateful Dead

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by Grateful Dead
     
 

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Winnowing down three decades' worth of material from this pioneering rock juggernaut into a single-disc retrospective would seem to be a daunting task -- particularly given the Dead's notorious propensity for jamming and stretching out. This challenge is answered by the decision to focus on studio material -- only a '72 version of "One More Saturday Night" nods to the

Overview

Winnowing down three decades' worth of material from this pioneering rock juggernaut into a single-disc retrospective would seem to be a daunting task -- particularly given the Dead's notorious propensity for jamming and stretching out. This challenge is answered by the decision to focus on studio material -- only a '72 version of "One More Saturday Night" nods to the Dead's live prowess. This wide-ranging disc does a fine job of capturing the band's often-overlooked ability to spin a musical yarn concisely without losing the magical "x-factor." While not organized chronologically, The Very Best reaches clear back to the Dead's first Warner Bros. single, "The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion," and makes pit stops at every tune that would be recognizable even to non-Deadheads. That means "Truckin' " shows up, as does "Casey Jones" and the band's sole hit single, "Touch of Grey" -- making it an essential, portable encapsulation of a vastly influential band. Initial pressings of the disc include a replica pass from the band's final tour in 1995.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It only seems like there has been an endless stream of Grateful Dead compilations. In reality, there has only been a handful, and the most notable of those were released while the band was still an active recording and touring unit in the '70s -- and before they had belated chart success in the late '80s, 20 years after their debut album. So, Warner/Rhino's 2003 collection The Very Best of Grateful Dead marks the first attempt to do a thorough single-disc overview of the group's career, encompassing not just their classic Warner albums but also the records they cut for their own Grateful Dead/UA and Arista. As always with the Dead, it's hard to condense the band's free-ranging, freewheeling output onto one disc, and there are some big songs and concert staples missing here, including the perennial "Dark Star," "Jack Straw," "Black Peter," "Stella Blue," "Brokedown Palace," "Playing in the Band," "Wharf Rat," and "Terrapin Station." They are missed, some more than others, but the 17 tracks here do present nearly all sides of the Dead while hitting their biggest songs: "Truckin'," "Touch of Grey," "Sugar Magnolia," "Casey Jones," "Friend of the Devil," "Uncle John's Band," "Box of Rain," and "Ripple." As that list proves, this is a set that leans heavily on the twin peaks of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, but there's a reason why those two are beloved of Deadheads and casual fans alike: the classic songs are there. Also present here are staples like "The Golden Road," "One More Saturday Night," "Estimated Prophet," "Eyes of the World," and "U.S. Blues," which may not be as well-known to the general populace but help fill in the picture and provide a good portrait of the band. The collection would have been better if sequenced a little more chronologically, but nevertheless it provides a first-class introduction to a band whose catalog can often seem a little unwieldy.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/16/2003
Label:
Rhino
UPC:
0081227389925
catalogNumber:
73899
Rank:
12340

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Grateful Dead   Primary Artist
Mickey Hart   Percussion,Drums
Jerry Garcia   Guitar,Piano,Pedal Steel Guitar,Vocals
Bob Weir   Guitar,Vocals
Tom Scott   Saxophone,Lyricon
Tom Constanten   Piano,Keyboards
Merl Saunders   Organ
Howard Wales   Organ
Jordan Amarantha   Percussion
English Chorale   Vocals
Martyn Ford   Conductor
Donna Jean Godchaux   Vocals
David Grisman   Mandolin
Matthew Kelly   Harp
Bill Kreutzmann   Percussion,Drums
Phil Lesh   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan   Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Conga,Keyboards,Vocals
Brent Mydland   Keyboards,Vocals
David Nelson   Electric Guitar
Steven Schuster   Saxophone
Dave Torbert   Bass
Robert Howes   Conductor

Technical Credits

Mickey Hart   Composer
Jerry Garcia   Composer,Producer
Grateful Dead   Producer
Bob Weir   Composer
Robert Hunter   Composer
Lowell George   Producer
James Austin   Producer,Liner Notes
John Perry Barlow   Composer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Paul Buckmaster   Orchestral Arrangements
John Cutler   Producer
John Dawson   Composer
David Hassinger   Producer
John Kahn   Horn Arrangements
Bill Kreutzmann   Composer
Phil Lesh   Composer
Bob Matthews   Producer
Keith Olsen   Producer
Gary Peterson   Discographical Annotation
Betty Cantor   Producer
Stanley Mouse   Cover Art
David Lemieux   Producer

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The Very Best of Grateful Dead 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently purchased this as a "beginner's disc" for my 18 year old nephew. Like a lot of people, I have a sizable collection of live shows, but don't think that a concert is usually the best place to start for somebody who has never listened to the dead. This compilation is a great place to start for a neophite, and was fun for me to listen to also. A nice collection of songs, and heard together, reminds me that the dead weren't always flat in the studio, as a lot of people believe. After getting used to the sound, either find a friend with live shows to burn for you, use bit-torrent to download on-line, or purchase one of the outstanding Dick's Picks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago