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So Many Roads (1965-1995)

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Album Review

By the late '90s, box sets increasingly addressed the desires of ardent fans; since the uninitiated were satisfied with smaller compilations, a box set consisting mostly or entirely of unissued material often seemed more appropriate. Even within this paradigm, however, the Grateful Dead are an anomaly — most of their studio recordings are disdained by fans devoted to privately distributed tapes of their live performances. How, then, to approach a Dead box set? The compilers have scoured the group's extensive vault for a five-CD set which includes only a few tracks that have ever been released in any medium. Adopting a roughly chronological sequencing, they sought out rare songs and, especially, performance highlights spanning the Dead's 30-year career. The compilers are second-generation Deadheads, fans who came to the band in the '70s and '80s, responding to the marathon-length live instrumental improvisations. Time and again, the songs here begin in normal fashion and then take off into uncharted territory; as long as the soloing is interesting, it doesn't matter if lyrics are blown or the singing is off-key. In many cases, the compilers are so enamored of the group's interplay that they include excerpts without the songs that begin or conclude them. The rare songs include selections from the Dead's unreleased 1965 sessions for Autumn Records, outtakes from Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, and rehearsals and live performances of songs intended for a Dead album that was never formally recorded. In short, So Many Roads (1965-1995) was obviously made by Deadheads for Deadheads. The Dead have succeeded over the years by addressing the interests of a cult that welcomes neophytes but also revels in its exclusivity; it's no surprise that their version of a box-set retrospective holds true to that course.

Customer Reviews

For Deadheads, By Deadheads

so many roads is a compilation of recordings spanning the dead's entire career. unlike "box sets" for most bands, however, it focuses on live material, which really is what a dead boxed set SHOULD focus on. it was put together by deadhead archivists who dug up rare and unreleased performances. the live performances found here, for the most part, are absolutely phenomenal. it also contains many rare studio outtakes and rehearsals of songs that were intended, or would eventually end up on a dead album in one form or another. the only somewhat negative thing i could say about this compellation is that being a '60s and '70s head, i feel it focuses far too much on '80s and '90s material, an era i don't generally have a lot of praise for. still, this is an excellent release and is necessary for deadheads and even new listeners as an overview of the band's live work. i won't do a song by song breakdown, but the main highlights are: cream puff war, dark star/china cat sunflower/ the eleven, mason’s children, that’s it for the other one, beautiful jam, watkins glen sound check jam, eyes of the world, shakedown street, playing in the band, and lazy river road.

So Many Roads

Oh yeah.....sweet.....summer tuesday in new england....90 degrees...taking a wee pufnstuf and drift back... Back to Watkins Glen...was walking in the nite had stopped and I left my ride to continue...must have been when the jam from this album was taking place.... All summers...all kinds of great memories of the Dead...Roosevelt Stadium in about 1976/7? I screamed for The Other One and they obliged....yeah.....get this cd...let it play... -54 yrs young and it is still a long strange trip

Definitive Dead Collection

This career-spanning collection is a must have. All tracks evoke the spirit, sound and energy of the ultimate "jam" band and this chronography could easily represent your sole go to set. The Scarlet Begonia>Fire on The Mountain set is worth the price alone! My go to collection for summer-time road trips or any season for that matter!


Formed: 1965 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Rock's longest, strangest trip, the Grateful Dead were the psychedelic era's most beloved musical ambassadors as well as its most enduring survivors, spreading their message of peace, love, and mind expansion across the globe throughout the better part of three decades. The object of adoration for popular music's most fervent and celebrated fan following -- the Deadheads, their numbers and devotion legendary in their own right -- they were the ultimate cult band, creating a self-styled universe all...
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