August 9, 2010 is the fifteenth anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia. My favorite biography of the Grateful Dead is Sweet Chaos: The Grateful Dead’s American Adventure by Carol Brightman. There’s also the Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. There’s also Rolling Stone magazine’s Garcia book, and Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia which seems to have just been republished by something called Plexus Press. For those of you who would rather mark the occasion with listening than with reading, I heartily recommend any (read=all) of the following:
Don’t Let Go – a great double live comp from ’76; highlights include “I’ll Take a Melody,” “Sitting in Limbo,” and the gospel triple-shot that rounds out the second disc: “My Sisters and Brothers,” “Lonesome and a Long Way from Home,” “Mighty High”.
The Grateful Dead – Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 3 (May 1970) – I wrote about my love for this most recent GD Productions release here last month.
Jerry Garcia and John Kahn live at Marin Veterans Auditorium 2/28/86 – What can I say? Single disc acoustic gem.
Workingman’s Dead, which btw turns 40 this year
Garcia Plays Dylan – a wonderful two-disc study of JG’s incomparable Dylan covers. “Visions of Johanna” alone is worth the price of admission, but don’t miss “Tough Mama” and, you know, all the rest of it.
And hey, as long as we’re getting into this–people who have read my short story “The New Life” might remember that at one point Brad buys his friend Kenny a Grateful Dead live release for his birthday. The release is 2/11/69 live at the Fillmore East, and I am happy to report that you can download the two-disc set directly from the Dead website for a measly $12.99 (or more depending on your chosen quality/format).
Title like that and ya’ll probably think this is going to be a joke-post, but people who know me know that I am an extreme Grateful Dead-partisan, so dispense with the notion that I am writing in anything but earnest, and turn your attention now to a website you probably haven’t visited lately, Dead.net, where the once-venerable and now Rhino Records-controlled GDP (that’s Grateful Dead Productions) is offering their latest in (what we can only hope is) an endless supply of live-releases from the legendary VAULT.
To give credit where it’s due, most of the vault releases over the past couple years have been fantastic. A lot of people despaired of the fate of vault-stewardship after the death of Dick Latvala (the band’s tape archivist whose eponymous Dick’s Picks series eventually ran 35 multi-disc volumes), but the Road Trips series has won over more than a few skeptics (yours truly included) who at first balked at the decision to move from Dick’s focus on individual shows to a model that sought to provide, over two or three discs, the “highlights” of a run or an entire tour. But nothing really comes close, imho, to the three big–as in nine discs apiece–box sets: Fillmore West 1969, Winterland 1973 and Winterland 1977. So why are the notoriously genial Deadheads so pissed off about Philly ’89?