Half-Speed Mastered from the Original Master Tapes: Invite the Dead Into Your Living Room—You Won’t Believe How Good This Pressing Sounds
If you want to experience why on any given night the Grateful Dead was the best live band going in 1969, you need to hear Live/Dead. If you want to understand how personal chemistry, symbiotic interplay, and otherworldly energy can lead to a near-extinct onstage combination of soulfulness, surprise, and suspense, you need to hear Live/Dead. Ranked by Rolling Stone on the magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Records of All Time. Universally acclaimed by both Deadheads and non-devotees alike. The perfect synthesis of the legendary group’s first-era vital characteristics and cosmic faculties. A gorgeously recorded sonic artifact and more, Live/Dead is outright essential.
Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes with the utmost care, and part of Mobile Fidelity’s unprecedented Grateful Dead reissue series, this numbered edition 180g 2LP version of Live/Dead raises the iconic album’s lofty prestige even higher. Recorded at three San Francisco concerts in early 1969 with a mobile 16-track studio, the 7-song set has always possessed excellent fidelity in large part because of a mic splitter—specially created for the project—that fed both into the PA system and record inputs, allowing the engineers to capture the shows without any loss in quality.
Seldom have venue dimensions, acoustic properties, spatial characteristics, low-frequency resonances, amplifier tonalities, soundstage balances, and vocal timbres been so faithfully reproduced—or enhanced. Mobile Fidelity’s version elevates Live/Dead into the revered pantheon of the most respected reference audiophile LPs. Close your eyes and you’re dead center, ten rows back in two of the Bay Area’s most beloved halls: Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom. The degrees of realism are utterly staggering; no, you don’t need any, ahem, chemical assistance to facilitate the transcendent experience.
Renowned for contagious communication between its members, the Dead operates on a interstellar plane throughout Live/Dead. Witnessing the ebb-and-flow manners in which guitarist Jerry Garcia, bassist Phil Lesh, and drummer Billy Kreutzmann respond to one another’s passages and blur the lines between jazz, psychedelia, and rock disciplines. Meandering jamming this is not. Solos burn, rhythms thunder, bass lines roll, melodies twist. “Dark Star” remains the touchstone for what’s possible in epic frameworks, with notes climbing, darting, and skittering amidst a dark canvas seared with mystic vibes and punctuated with blossoming instrumentals. Along with the inseparable pairing of “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven—a sequence that highlights the raw gospel beauty of Garcia, Lesh, and Bob Weir’s harmonies as well as breathtaking tightrope segues—the explorative excursion epitomizes the Dead’s progressive inclination, cohesion, and ability.
Live/Dead isn’t all about the art of the improvisation. R&B-driven electric blues comes courtesy of organist/vocalist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, still in excellent health, and pianist Tom Constanten, who departed the band shortly after these shows occurred. The latter’s counterpoint playing and spiritual accents shadow the shivering ballad “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” and underscore a rousing, percussive-laden marathon take of “Turn on Your Love Light.” Call-and-response segments, spontaneous exchanges, and joyous merry-making doesn’t come any better. Live/Dead is a landmark in every sense; it remains the first 16-track album released. Its impact is still felt today.
Grateful Dead Live/Dead Track Listing:
1. "Dark Star" (Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir, Hunter) – 23:18
1. "St. Stephen" (Garcia, Lesh, Hunter) – 6:31
2. "The Eleven" (Lesh, Hunter) – 9:18
1. "Turn On Your Love Light" (Joseph Scott, Deadric Malone) – 15:05
1. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" (Reverend Gary Davis) – 10:28
2. "Feedback" (Constanten, Garcia, Hart, Kreutzman, Lesh, McKernan, Weir) – 7:49
3. "And We Bid You Goodnight" (Traditional, arr. by Grateful Dead) – 0:35