The Dead’s 1970 LP is getting the deluxe treatment in honour of its 50th birthday. It includes a new vinyl pressing and a previously unreleased concert recording from 1971.
Newcomers to the Grateful Dead are often overwhelmed by the size of the band’s catalogue. But the legendary San Francisco band released two back-to-back records in 1970 that remain quintessential folk rock artefacts. The first was Workingman’s Dead, which is getting reissued this year in honour of its 50th anniversary.
The reissue is due out on July 10 and will include a previously unreleased recording of the band’s 1971 performance at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. There’s no shortage of Dead concert recordings in circulation, and they’re often held up as essential components of the band’s oeuvre.
For instance, many fans and commentators regard the Dead’s 1977 gig at Cornell University as the definitive Grateful Dead statement. Archivist David Lemieux produced the upcoming reissue and told Rolling Stone that the Capitol Theatre concert provides “a definitive overview of what the band were up to six months after the release of [Workingman’s Dead].”
“From Workingman’s Dead through Europe ’72, the Dead’s sound was Americana,” said Lemieux. “And the live show included here is a workingman’s band playing authentically honest music.” Lemieux hits on an important point here. For various reasons – chiefly their association with LSD, San Francisco hippie culture and cult-like fanbase – the Grateful Dead are one of rock’s most commonly misunderstood bands.
The songwriting on Workingman’s Dead and it’s follow-up, American Beauty, is rootsy, lyrical and tightly crafted. These releases sound more akin to The Band than psych-rock acts like 13th Floor Elevators and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd.
In April, Grateful Dead announced the weekly livestream concert series, Shakedown Stream. The next edition will feature guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Bob Weir talking to Lemieux and historian Gary Lambert. The trio will shoot the shit before a screening of the band’s July 2, 1989 show at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
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