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Box Set Keeps the Dead Alive

“For a major-label product, this is an incredibly subversive
collection of very outside-looking music,” says Steve Silberman of
the upcoming five-CD Grateful Dead box set, So Many Roads
(1965-1995)
.| Silberman, author of Skeleton Key: A
Dictionary for Deadheads
, co-produced the set along with
fellow San Francisco Bay Area Deadheads Blair Jackson, author of
the new Jerry Garcia biography Garcia: An American Life,
and David Gans, host of the nationally syndicated radio show
The Grateful Dead Hour.

With all but two of the tracks previously unreleased, the box set
collects rarities and live recordings and contains a sixty-page
booklet with dozens of unpublished photographs. Among the rarities
are demos the band recorded in 1965 under the name “Emergency
Crew,” back when they were playing Bay Area clubs as the Warlocks.
“The earliest stuff sounds really hip right now,” Silberman says.
“It’s the real stripped-down garage-y vibe. It’s almost
proto-punky: surf guitar and a B3 organ, kind of like ? and the
Mysterians on acid.”

As for the live stuff, well, not surprisingly, there’s hours of it.
“Doing a thirty-year retrospective of a band that played somewhere
between two thousand and three thousand shows — and each show was
kind of a unique performance of each song — is a hopeless task,”
says Silberman, a veteran of some 350 shows himself. “So, we tried
to choose representative peaks where the communication between the
band members was especially high.”

Such peaks include the legendary spontaneous jam known as the
“Watkins Glen Soundcheck” and a version of “So Many Roads” taken
from the band’s final show, at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1995.

“You really see the architecture of the whole career, which is
something that’s not possible on single-show releases,” Silberman
says.

Silberman hopes that the box set will capture new fans as well as
serve the faithful. “The conventional wisdom is ‘The studio albums
are not that good, but, man, you should have heard them live!'” he
says. “Well, this isn’t hearing them live, because it’s not the
huge sound system and the five thousand people tripping around you,
but it is an effort to put across some of the most outstanding
live, intense, collaborative, out-there performances.”

T-shirts and Cosmic brownies separately…

The track listing for So Many Roads (1965-1995):

Disc One: “Can’t Come Down,” “Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks),”
“You Don’t Have To Ask,” “On the Road Again,” “Cream Puff War,” “I
Know You Rider,” “The Same Thing,” “Dark Star/China Cat
Sunflower/The Eleven,” “Clementine,” “Mason’s Children,” “To Lay Me
Down”

Disc Two: “That’s It for the Other One,” “Beautiful Jam,”
“Chinatown Shuffle,” “Sing Me Back Home,” “Watkins Glen Soundcheck
Jam,” “Dark Star Jam/Spanish Jam/U.S. Blues”

Disc Three: “Eyes of the World,” “The Wheel,” “Stella Blue,”
“Estimated Prophet,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Shakedown
Street”

Disc Four: “Cassidy,” “Hey Pocky Way,” “Believe It or Not,”
“Playing in the Band,” “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” “Death
Don’t Have No Mercy,” “Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain,”
“Bird Song,” “Jam Out of Terrapin”

Disc Five: “Terrapin Station,” “Jam Out of Foolish Heart,” “Way to
Go Home,” “Liberty,” “Lazy River Road,” “Eternity,” “Jam into Days
Between,” “Days Between,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” “So Many
Roads.”

In This Article: The Grateful Dead

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