What A Long Strange Trip It's Been - The Best Of The Grateful Dead ([email protected])
Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
Original Release Date: 1977
Number of Discs: 2
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
Includes: ID3 Tags & front.jpg
01. New, New Minglewood Blues
02. Cosmic Charlie
04. Black Peter
05. Born Crossed-Eyed
07. Doin' That Rag
08. Dark Star
09. High Time
10. New Speedway Boogie
01. St. Stephen
02. Jack Straw
03. Me & My Uncle
04. Tennessee Jed
05. Cumberland Blues
06. Playing In The Band
07. Brown-Eyed Woman
08. Ramble On Rose
[b]By Anthony G Pizza
The Grateful Dead have not been well served by label compilations.
Their windblown, exhilirating, rootless roots rock hardly contains itself on the band's relatively few studio releases,
let alone stands slicing into radio-friendly pieces.
This is why every Deadhead gathers his personal best-of from hundreds of worldwide concerts trapped on tapes.
Warner's 1977's "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been" covers the group's 1967-72 period as well as expected being neither
fish nor fowl. The 2 CD set (adding up to just over 86 minutes), compiled with the band and well-remastered by Joe Gastwirt,
balances the disparate studio/live faces of this legendary American phenomenon.
It misses several FM hits ("Skeletons From The Closet" is your first stop other than the original
LPs for "Sugar Magnolia," "Friend Of The Devil," etc., although "Truckin'" repeats here) but balances the Dead's
first five years' studio and live releases.
What "Strange Trip" does best is refocus attention on the band's first, most creative years: the band, still young;
the studio, still suitable laboratory; the following, still new and gaining for music as for the social experience;
the goal, to grow a body of original work rather than expand on familiar music and memories.
Indeed, only Elvis Presley among American rockers drew so easily from as many influences as the Dead did in the years
The consistently strong Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter compositions (among them the concert staples "Ripple," "Tennessee Jed,"
and a truncated "Dark Star") merge the dusty, dry strength of Jimmy Rodgers, (train imagery shows up throughout
the selections, even without "Casey Jones") Robert Johnson (listen again to the intro of "Cosmic Charlie"), Bill Monroe,
Buddy Holly and the South-Southwest's musical/lyrical imagery. Add Bob Weir's Bakersfield vocals on "Me and Me Uncle"
and "Playing In The Band," the late "Pigpen" McKernan's bluesy voice and keyboard on "Ramble On Rose"
and the early "New, New Minglewood Blues," and Phil Lesh's solid bass throughout (Gastwirt's remastering recasts him as
the star of "Truckin'").
You get a sound and style not so much created as organically harvested, then psychedelically frosted.
Whether this set serves as time capsule or accessible musical portal depends on where and how far new fans retrace
their long, strange trip.
The road is easiest back to 1970's beloved "American Beauty" and "Workingman's Dead" (four songs from that LP are
featured here) or on to 1973's elegant "Wake Of The Flood" or "Mars Hotel."
Either way, "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been" provides a meatier, incomplete but still recommended musical supplement
for casual or new fans.