The Golden Road (1965-1973)
Don Henley once saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, and those same upscale-auto consumers are surely the target market for this lavish set, which compiles every album the Dead recorded for Warner Bros., for a total of a dozen discs. Tempting Deadheads to repurchase CDs they already own is fundamentally obnoxious, but The Golden Road offers enough bonus goodies to compensate. Newly remixed in HDCD sound, the original LPs sparkle, and most are amended with extra material from the same period. While fans will find few unreleased songs (the loping ”Mason’s Children,” a Workingman’s Dead leftover included in a concert take, is an exception), tracks like a live, acoustic ”Dire Wolf” and spacey studio jams from the Aoxomoxoa sessions are fine supplements. (Ending the set at their creative peak also avoids the artistic-slump aspect of most boxes.) If that’s not temptation enough, a double CD of rare early recordings documents the time when the Dead were the loosest, weirdest garage band in the country. Hearing them grow from green blues-folkies to masters of warped Americana on American Beauty and Europe ’72 is a long, strange, and beautiful trip all its own.