The mid-1970s represented a particularly busy studio period for the Grateful Dead, and on March 7, Rhino will continue its Dead reissue program with the release of five studio titles from this period, each remastered and expanded with outtakes and/or concert recordings.
The trip down memory lane begins with 1973’s “Wake of the Flood,” the first album released on the band’s then newly established Grateful Dead Records label. It was also the first album to feature Keith Godchaux on keyboards. Making the new version a little more special is a previously unreleased live take of the album’s “Eyes of the World,” an acoustic demo of “Weather Report Suite” and studio outtakes of “Prelude/Part I/Part II” and “China Doll,” a song that would appear on the band’s next release.
The next year’s “From the Mars Hotel” is considered one of the better Dead studio sets. Its notable tracks include “China Doll,” as well as “U.S. Blues” and “Scarlet Begonias.” A live version of the latter is added to the reissue, along with concert takes of “Money Money,” “Wave That Flag” and “Let It Rock.” A studio outtake of “Loose Lucy” and acoustic demos of “Pride of Cucamonga” and “Unbroken Chain” also appear.
The 1975 album “Blues for Allah” appeared amidst long break from the road, and the dividends were evident in the recordings. Joining such favorites as “Franklin’s Tower” and “Crazy Fingers” are a half-dozen instrumentals captured during the studio sessions.
A return to touring left little time for the studio, so it wasn’t until 1977 that “Terrapin Station,” the Dead’s first album for Arista, appeared. It was the first album since 1968’s “Anthem of the Sun” to find the band working with an outside producer, in this case Keith Olsen, who had worked with the Byrds and Fleetwood Mac.
The album included Bob Weir’s venerable “Estimated Prophet” and a version of the Motown staple “Dancin’ in the Streets.” In its reissued form, “Terrapin” pairs instrumental outtakes of “Peggy-O” and “The Ascent” with studio outtakes of “Catfish John,” “Equinox” and “Fire on the Mountain,” as well as a live recording of “Dancin’ in the Streets.”
Completing this volley is 1978’s “Shakedown Street,” which was produced by Little Feat’s Lowell George at the Dead’s own studio, located in San Rafael, Calif. Rarities added to the original lineup include an outtake cover of the Olympics’ “Good Lovin’,” a staple of the Dead’s live set through the years. Also added are live versions of “Ollin Arageed,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “Stagger Lee” and “All New Minglewood Blues.”
There’s been no word if the surviving members of the Dead will mount any sort of tour in 2006. At deadline, the only thing on the books is a run of Phil Lesh & Friends shows that the Dead bassist will stage in New York (Feb. 10-12, 14-15, 17-19), Providence, R.I. (Feb. 21-22) and Philadelphia (Feb. 24-26).
Weir’s Ratdog is expected to tour in the spring, and it’s possible more will be heard from SerialPod, the group drummer Bill Kreutzmann formed with former Phish members Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon. The trio played a few late 2005 shows and Kreutzmann’s Web site says only to stay tuned for more info.