Twelve discs with original artwork, each with ample bonus tracks, constitute Rhino's second massive Grateful Dead box, covering 1973-1989: a prolific but typically inconsistent era for the group.

Twelve discs with original artwork, each with ample bonus tracks, constitute Rhino's second massive Grateful Dead box, covering 1973-1989: a prolific but typically inconsistent era for the group. Included are the fascinating, folksy, rare and often terrific albums from the band's own Grateful Dead label (including the forever inscrutable "Blues for Allah'') and the self-consciously radio-aimed Arista albums ("In the Dark," among others). But individual records don't matter much—they're just chapters in this novelistic narrative. Still a bummer: Songs featuring late keyboardist/ singer Brent Mydland are even more misplaced than they were then. But the Jerry Garcia metaphysical guitar grooves and telepathic ensemble playing, and a gargantuan yet often scholarly song collection, elevates the dross. Since the Dead rarely played a song the same way twice, the bonus material adds a fresh dimension. You can hunt and peck for months, which makes this a good value, especially at a $149.98 list.—WR

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