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87 of 88 found the following review helpful:
For those with unlimited devotion to one of rock's greatest Feb 04, 2002
This is a perfect box set, doing what all good box sets should. It is comprehensive (Over 100 pages worth of essay and liner notes. It has excellent sound (recieving the digital remastering treatment). And it has plenty of unreleased material. (Over 7 hours, stretching each disc to 80 minutes in length) You can't go wrong with a 12 cd box set covering the golden era in Dead history.
Birth of the Dead: The Studio Sides- A disc of the Dead's earliest sessions in their entirety. This captures the Dead as a very loose garage band. Shows much influence from the music of early electric Bob Dylan and other folk rock acts of the day. 5 Stars
Birth of the Dead: The Live Sides- Some early material. Relatively typical of an early Dead concert as they explore folk, blues, and rock and spice it up with their own charisma. Though not as engaging as more legendary Dead performances still good. 4 stars.
The Grateful Dead- The first official album. Could have been good, but the Dead seemed to be rushing it and unlike Birth of the Dead couldn't loosen up to the studio. Does contain classic versions of Cream Puff War, Sitting on Top of the World, Morning Dew, and Viola Lee Blues. On live performances the Dead let loose, and are raw and rocking. Album: 4 stars Bonus Tracks: 5 stars
Anthem of the Sun- The second album, containing studio and live tracks merged together to make for a very experimental and interesting album. The Dead are looser and more psychadelic, most notably on their always essential That's It For the Other One jam and the bluesy Caution. Excellent live medley of alligator and caution in the bonus set. Some of the Dead's most psychadelically experimental rock. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
Aoxomoxoa- Step backward. Less experimental and a more pop sound. Does contain classic cuts St. stephen and China Cat Sunflower. Another excelent live jam set in the bonis tracks. Not as exciting as Anthem but still a good listen. Album 4 stars Bonus 5 stars
Live/Dead- The Dead's first full length live album is certainly one of the best psychadelic albums ever. Grabs you and doesn't let you go. All time classic jams such as Dark Star and The Eleven make this an all time Dead essential. 5 stars
Workingman's Dead- The first great studio album. After their first two studio albums (Anthem doesn't count) the Dead to come back to simple Americana music. Workingman's dead is mostly lighthearted folk and country, containing such classics as Uncle John's Band, Cumberland Blues, and Casey Jones. While most rock fans will want to ignore, fans of roots music will certainly enjoy it, and it is without a doubt the Dead's best studio album Bonus tracks are not as engaging. Album; 5 stars Bonus: 4 stars.
American Beauty- Much of the same. Catchy, lighthearted, and shows the Dead's maturity as musicians in full bloom. Mellow classics such as Sugar Magnolia, Box of Rain, Ripple, and Truckin' make this one of the Dead's greatest. While not as good as Workingman's Dead it is definetely great relaxation music. Bonus set is average and rather boring. Album: 5 stars Bonus 3 1/2 stars
Grateful Dead- The one originally to be Skull F***. With this live effort the Dead proved they could still be an awesome psychadelic rock band, pumping out a riveting The Other One and the all time greatest Dead song Playing with the Band, not to mention the classic ballad Wharf Rat and the classic medley Not Fade Away/Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. Impressive live outing. Fine bonus set. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 4 stars
Europe '72: The all time greatest Dead album. Two live discs of essential Dead, churning, folk and country rock favorites along with one of their greatest live jams (Truckin', Epilogue, Prelude, Morning Dew). '72 captures them performing at their loosest and most charismatic on stage. Not just for all Deadheads, but for everyone who loves good music as well. Excellent bonus set along the same guidelines. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
History of the Grateful Dead (Bear's Choice): An album used to end contract with Warner Bros. Fine album that captures the Dead unplugged and playing the blues very impressively. Many impressive moments from Pigpen, who died before this album was released. A fine live album with a fine bonus set. Album: 5 stars Bonus: 5 stars
So if you have some cash to spend then might I consider the most comprehensive Grateful Dead set in the world. Even if you already have these albums you shall not regret it, I guarantee!
55 of 56 found the following review helpful:
It worked for me ... May 30, 2002
This was a big investment for me. One of those things I buy without telling my wife because I feel slightly guilty (I should have spent the money fixing the water pump ...). That's the first thing you'll consider before buying this, of course, the price tag. In the end I took the plunge. I have all the Dead stuff on vinyl, but hadn't listened to them in a long while. I never considered myself a Deadhead. I'm suspicious of all the Deadhead marketing push, the merchandising, and I didn't revere Jerry Garcia. His decline left me cold. Something about accepting responsibility for your own choices. But anyway. This box.
First off, the packaging is just gorgeous. And that matters. Nothing skimpy here, no compromises. A heavyweight foil-stamped box with a lithographed metal panel. Beautiful. Individual albums in stiff card digipacks with proper booklets. A substantial book packed with great pictures and written without the eulogising that earmarks the dyed-in-the-hemp Deadhead. Nice dry humor. There's even ribbons glued into the box to help you lift out the heavy stacks of CDs. All this stuff matters. If you buy a box set, you're paying for the packaging - the CDs themselves cost about as much as postage stamps to produce.
Then there's the music. Yahey. What a surprise I got. The sound is stunning. To think all this sonic information was always there, but hidden by the medium. All the criticism of the Dead as being [poor] in the studio is revealed as a myth. Not only could these guys play, they could write too. The singing ... I was always the first to admit they're not a vocal band. Their lack of a great vocalist was extraordinary. Maybe they thought it was too showbizzy or something to draft in somebody who could carry a tune. Bob Weir's blue-eyed soul grunts. Jerry's wheezy and cracked straining for the note. This is something that a lot of people who would otherwise enjoy the band are simply never going to get over. And that, as they say, is their loss. I can't say I'd ever listen to a Dead album for the vocals, but they don't bother me. They're part of the texture. And the music is stunning, in its variety (jugband blues to acid rock, lovely country tunes to barrelhouse rock and roll to spaced-out jazz-inflected jams), in its virtuosity (they played off each other like no band before or since), and now, at last, in its sound.
Revelations: plenty. What a fantastic and under-rated album Aoxomoxoa is. The depth of sound on American Beauty. The treasure trove of bonus tracks (not a bummer amongst them).
This box reawaked my appreciation of a great band. It does them justice. It's cheap at the price, and I don't care that the water pump still leaks.
It's that good.
28 of 29 found the following review helpful:
Best box set I've seen Jul 25, 2002
By Aaron P. Beck
Okay, if you are into the Dead, you know that the music on these CDs is up to par. Well, it's better than you thought. You will most likely hear things on the remastered studio tracks that you never heard off of CD or vinyl before. The bonus material is of equal quality with the previously released studio/live music. And it is both massive and broad. If you are not into the Dead, but you have even a slight interest, this is the thing to get.
The presentation is where this box set excels. Each digipak has the original front and back album artwork (varying between 100% to 85% size so that it fits nicely). Eveything down to the Mouse Studios logo on American Beauty and Workingman's Dead is included. The liner notes are extensive and sometimes enlightening. But overall the set just has a nice, classy, almost literary look and feel to it.
As far as value, this is the nicest box set I have seen. A heavy dose of original art (including many concert poster images) and writing along with twelve 70+ minute, superbly remastered CDs priced at less than [$$$] each makes this a rare value in today's music merchandising. If you are a Deadhead this set is a must-have--even if you already own most of these albums. If you are thinking about buying a pre-1974 Grateful Dead CD, save some more money and get this instead. Its value stretches far beyond the price.
33 of 36 found the following review helpful:
Can it get any better? Yes Indeed!!! Oct 25, 2001
Being keeper of "The Vaults" must be one of the greatest and yet one of the most difficult jobs I can imagine. After the wealth of releases under "Dick's Picks" (#23 has just been released) you can't imagine that there could be anything good left. Surprise! Not only do the Warner Brothers albums sound incredible, but the additonal unreleased tracks that fill each disk are simply amazing.
For example, listen to the clarity of That's It For The Other One on Anthem of the Sun. The LP sounded rather garbled and mushy, on this you can hear 12-string guitar that I had never heard before. The clap track on New Speedway Boogie. The crystalline harmonies on American Beauty and Workingman's Dead. Listen to the previosly unreleased two minutes added on to the beginning of Dark Star on Live/Dead. Beautiful interplay between Jerry, Bob and Phil.
Listening to all of the WB disks is like rediscovering the music all over again. Listen with headphones.
There are two disks of unreleased material (one live and one studio) of the Warlocks days. The studio material is interesting, but the live material is at times breathtaking, considering it was recorded in 1966.
Each gatefold CD has an essay by former associates of the Dead and by various journalists. A lot of insight into the recording process Bear and a detailed track listing with info. on dates, etc.
All in all this is an excellent package. One that I will treasure and pass down to my kids.
16 of 16 found the following review helpful:
Top-notch packaging and unbelievable sound quality. Can I give it more than 5 stars? Aug 28, 2005
By Just Bill
I am new to the Grateful Dead. Prior to this year, I only heard "Truckin'" and a few songs like that on the radio and I thought, "Ugh. Spacey music for Sixties drop-outs and wannabes."
But the more I got into "jam bands" like Phish, Umphrey's McGee, Particle, moe., and others, the more the roads led back to the Grateful Dead.
So two months ago I bought The Golden Road and started to listen with an open mind. I wanted to know what I'd been missing, if anything.
Holy crap! I missed a lot!
I was immediately hooked by The Golden Road -- especially by the live CDs in this set. Like all jam bands, the Grateful Dead excelled on stage. The studio albums are okay, but bands like the Grateful Dead were able to demonstrate their chops on stage.
Rhino did a fantastic job with these CDs! I heard one of the original CDs and compared it to a remastered version and was floored by the difference. Rhino's remastering is exquisite. Phil's bass lines are now right there where they belong. And the vocals are crisp and clean.
It's obvious Rhino approached this material with reverence, for the sound is just one of the outstanding elements of this package. Everything here is first rate. The box is first rate. The big ol' booklet that comes with The Golden Road is first rate, loaded with pictures and information. (I poured over it for hours and hours, enjoying every word and photo.) Even the price for allof this was reasonable.
My favorite CDs in this set are Live/Dead (one of the greatest live recordings of all time!), American Beauty, Anthem of the Sun and Workingman's Dead.
I know seasoned Dead-heads will see my review as being shallow, lacking in critical thinking or knowledge of the finer points of this or that performance. But all I can say is that I approached this box set as a music lover first and foremost. I approached it with an open mind. And now my mind is made up: the Grateful Dead were an extraordinary band that (I think) too often suffered under its own fame. They became caricatures of themselves. And that's why people like me misunderstood who and what the band really was. I didn't take them seriously.
The Golden Road strips away the larger-than-life persona they assumed and allows those of us who are late to the game hear what they had to offer the world.
I wholeheartedly recommend The Golden Road to anyone who loves good music. Forget what you think you know about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead and just sit back to listen to these CDs. They'll tell you everything you need to know.
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