The Grateful Dead: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
The Grateful Dead’s eponymous debut, released half a century ago, was a good first effort from a band that was little known outside its hometown. But that hometown, San Francisco, was fast becoming a center in the pop culture universe. The 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition includes that LP plus a second disc—previously unreleased 1966 live recordings from Vancouver. Two tracks, “Cardboard Cowboy” and “Standing on the Corner,” disappeared from the Dead’s repertoire before they recorded their first album and suggest the sinister psychedelic garage rock of the ’60s compilation album Nuggets more than anything for which they became known.
The remaining tracks on disc two show that the Dead’s sound was almost in place. The hint of country-rock guitar twang, Appalachian harmonies and gently rollicking pace all suggest the shape of things to come. One thing: There are a few jams but for the most part, the Dead kept the length of their songs in check at this early show.