Another week, another Grateful Dead box set. A mere seven days after serving up the incredible Angel’s Share, 152 minutes of outtakes from the Workingman’s Dead sessions, the psychedelic jam-masters deliver the 50th anniversary edition of the studio album itself. To call it equally incredible would be a stretch. Sure, the set contains a handful of bona fide Deadhead faves, including Uncle John’s Band, Dire Wolf, New Speedway Boogie, Cumberland Blues and the immortal Casey Jones. But given that it’s only been seven years since the country-flavoured 1970 classic was last remastered — and this version contains zero studio extras — the only real draw is the expertly restored, sharp-sounding live set from the subsequent tour. And it’s definitely a keeper, with a set list that blends the songs above with the usual peppering of great covers (Johnny B. Goode, I’m A King Bee, Me And Bobby McGee) and songs from their then-upcoming release American Beauty. Speaking of American Beauty: Presumably it’s next in line for the deluxe makeover treatment. That could (and should) be pretty incredible.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “The Workingman’s Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will be available as a three-CD set and digital equivalents featuring the original album with newly remastered sound, plus an unreleased complete concert recorded on Feb. 21, 1971 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The show was mixed from the 16-track analog master tapes by Jeffrey Norman at Bob Weir’s Marin County TRI Studios and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer, David Glasser, along with restoration and speed correction by Plangent Processes. 2/21/71 delivers a plethora of songs from both Workingman’s Dead and the band’s follow-up album, American Beauty. Some highlights include Weir’s moving vocal take on Me and Bobby McGee, Pigpen’s whiskey-seasoned growl on Easy Wind and a stellar run through Uncle John’s Band to close out the show.”