Although touted as the audio companion to the significantly expanded Grateful Dead Movie 2004 DVD, this package ably stands on its own as one of the best anthologies of the era. The band is captured just prior to its short-lived touring sabbatical from October 1974 through April 1976. In fact, the five shows at Winterland Arena on The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack
(2004) -- not to mention the film itself -- are drawn from the final run of gigs prior to that hiatus. Scholarly Deadheads may recall the thoroughly dismissible Steal Your Face
(1976) had likewise been compiled from the same concerts, with the rambunctious reading of "Casey Jones" being featured on both. Even given the extended CD format, nary a moment is wasted. Every live performance included in the movie is presented unedited as is the 90-plus minutes of bonus footage incorporated into the DVD. Among the pinnacles from 10/19 are the jazzy "Eyes of the World," which is linked to an emotive "China Doll." There is also the stretched-out and spacy "Playing in the Band" from 10/16. Plus, there is tons of music that still
wouldn't fit on the DVDs. In particular, the reunion with Mickey Hart (drums) on 10/20 as he returned to the fold after an absence of three years and eight months. Zeniths from that set comprise the last CD with another phenomenal "Playing in the Band" bookending athletic renditions of "Not Fade Away," "The Other One," "Wharf Rat," and two respective percussion interludes from Hart and Bill Kreutzmann
. Until all five nights are released in their entirety, The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack
will suffice nicely as a reminder that there will never be anything quite like a Grateful Dead
concert circa 1974.