May 06


By Tyler Blue (Website | Twitter)

When the Grateful Dead used to announce a new live release, its impending arrival was met with voracious anticipation. Deadheads dropped everything and ran to the store on the first day it came out or else had it waiting in the mailbox. We all remember when “One from the Vault” hit the racks in April of 1991. It was like Christmas, Channukah and a birthday all rolled into one. Soon the Dick’s Picks series came around. The declaration of a new release was akin to Apple revealing upgrades for the latest iPhone. They only came once or twice a year so it was easy to keep up and buy them all. There were no CD burners yet so everyone had to buy their own copy. What a concept.

Maybe around the time Dick’s Picks crossed into double-digits, the reality set in that I was going to have to start to pick and choose. But it was so hard to resist the sudden and instant access to a perfect copy of a show which had only been heard on crackly cassettes or maybe not at all. For a band which, at the time, was facing the reality of the erosion of its talent, this was the ultimate way to revive the genius of their past heroics to be put on a pedestal in the present and future. The quality was so consistently stellar, with eyes closed, it really felt like you were there.

Several years ago, after Dick’s Picks had already run its course, the Dead introduced the Road Trips series which could be purchased in CD format or via digital download. The floodgates were officially open as these amazing shows were released at a rate so frequent, only the deepest pocketed audiophiles could keep up. Well, and the illegal downloaders too. No one seems to hesitate anymore in “stealing” these recordings as they tend to rationalize: “I’ve given more than enough money to the Dead organization over the years.” Actually, not such an unreasonable line of logic.

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