Grateful Dead: 30 Trips Around The Sun: The Definitive Live Story

The long, strange trip, shortened.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

For the well-heeled hippie in your life, an 80-disc, 30-concert box set awaits. This four-disc summary picks one song from each of those gigs, themselves representing each of the Dead’s years until Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995.

The fiercely direct psychedelic blues of 1966’s Cream Puff War, where the Dead clearly sound like Jefferson Airplane’s Haight-Ashbury brethren, isn’t heard much in what follows. The trademark long jams have a signature sound thanks to Garcia’s bubbling ripples of guitar and Phil Lesh’s imaginative bass anchor, but the improvisation often doesn’t arrive anywhere remarkable.

Bob Weir shifts the mood with Estimated Prophet’s paranoid reggae, but it’s when Garcia steps to the front in the mid-80s, his voice and health already starting to be ravaged and frail, that the music is at its most intimate and exposed. Comes A Time (’86) is racked country soul, with Garcia insisting ‘only love can heal’ as feedback rises around him.

Morning Dew (’87), finds him fragile yet majestic, pushing what’s left of his voice to appreciative roars, inspiring his stinging lead guitar and the whole band towards a ragged, epic climax. It’s the highlight of a fair introduction to rock’s most prodigious live project.

Classic Rock 215: Reissues

_ _

_ _

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).