So if you know anything about The Grateful Dead, you know that this is their 50th anniversary. Their final shows will take place in Santa Clara, CA (2 shows) and in Chicago at Soldier's Field (3 shows). (A live webcast of all five concerts will be available for $79.95 at Dead.net.) To celebrate this historic milestone, Dead.net has just started taking advance orders on their new 80-disc box set -- Thirty Trips Around The Sun -- featuring 30 unreleased shows; one show from every year of touring! (It's planned for a September 18th release date.) You may not have enough time to listen to all 80 discs, but if you're a Deadhead, how can you say no? There will also be a 4-CD sampler set -- Thirty Trips 1965-1995 -- that serves as an introductory sampler to the Dead’s live canon, including 30 unreleased performances — one from each concert in the boxed set – along with the 1965 recording of “Caution.” Also featured is an essay by Dead aficionado Jesse Jarnow dissecting every track in the collection.
The linear narrative of the 80-disc boxed set is individually numbered and limited to 6,500 copies, a nod to the band’s formation in 1965. Along with the CDs, it also includes a gold-colored 7-inch vinyl single which bookends the band’s career. The A-side is “Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)” from the band’s earliest recording session in 1965 with the B-side of the last song the band ever performed together live, “Box Of Rain” recorded during their final encore at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995. The box also has a 288-page book that features an extensive, career-spanning essay written by Nick Meriwether, who oversees the Dead archives at the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with special remembrances of the band submitted by fans. Also included is a scroll that offers a visual representation of how the band’s live repertoire has evolved through the years. The USB drive version will be shaped like a gold lightning bolt with the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary logo engraved on the side. The drive includes all of the music from the collection in both FLAC (96/24) and MP3 formats and is an individually numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies.
The group's archivist David Lemieux waxed poetic to Rolling Stone magazine about a show at the Cape Cod Coliseum in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts on October 27th, 1979: "There was always something about the Dead in New England -- they were pretty darn spectacular. But some of the jams in this one are incredible."
Sadly their legendary show -- 5/8/77 Barton Hall, Ithaca NY -- will not be part of this historic box set, included instead will be their 4/25/77, Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ gig. Regardless, you should listen to Barton Hall today. Many folks claim this to be the musical zenith of Jerry and his Merry Pranskters. I prefer the Pigpen era of the Europe '72 tour, but this is a rather remarkable set of live music, not perfect, but then no live show is ever perfect.
What a long strange trip, indeed.