The band was a hundred kay in the hole after the ambitious Aoxomoxoa and, figuring better Dead than in the red, stayed out of the studio for their next release, Live/Dead. One of the first (if not the first) 16-track live recordings, Live/Dead captured what was best about the band: the magic interplay that happened on stage as the band navigated strange, familiar avenues. Seamlessly stitched together from several recent shows, the set begins with what is likely the most beloved version of the quintessential Dead song, “Dark Star,” played here at an uncannily unhurried pace. “Dark Star” consumes all of side one, and belongs with the best sonic spelunkering of its day (Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream), yet manages to be a much warmer interstellar journey than “A Saucerful of Secrets” or “Zeit.” Side two features a fine retelling of “Saint Stephen” and the first recorded appearance of “The Eleven,” which was a song of sorts (an instrumental with bits of song encased in it, really) that provides the perfect bridge between “Saint Stephen” and the Pigpen workout, “Turn On Your Lovelight.” Live/Dead closes with the powerful “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” the trippy “Feedback” and the after-dinner mint at the end of the great feast, “And We Bid You Goodnight.” Live/Dead succeeds at delivering the Dead’s live show to your doorstep in the order they intended it. If Aoxomoxoa proved a poor investment in studio resources (and I would think the album has since recouped its costs), Live/Dead was an inspired stroke of genius, leveraging the enormous investment that the Dead had already made in their live shows and wisely capturing all of the nuances in sixteen tracks of color. Together with their next two records, this is the peak of the legend of the Dead.
Original 2LP Version
A1. Dark Star (23:15)
B1. Saint Stephen (6:45)
B2. The Eleven (9:39)
C3. Turn On Your Love Light (Joseph Scott/Deadric Malone) (15:30)
D1. Death Don’t Have No Mercy (Rev. Gary Davis) (10:30)
D2. Feedback (Mcgannahan Skjellyfetti) (8:52)
D3. And We Bid You Goodnight (Traditional) (0:36)
Lyrics by Robert Hunter, tunes by Jerry Garcia/Phil Lesh unless noted.
Tom Constanten (T.C.) (keyboards), Jerry Garcia (guitar & vocals), Mickey Hart (percussion), Bill Kreutzmann (percussion), Phil Lesh (bass guitar & vocals), Pipgen (vocals, congas, organ on D1), Bob Weir (guitar & vocals). Produced by The Grateful Dead and Bob & Betty executive engineer: Bob Matthews, engineered by Betty Cantor, consulting engineers: Owsley, Ron Wickersham.
Cover art by R.D. Thomas. Liner photos by Herb Greene, Jim Marshall, Florence Nathan. Art direction by Ed Thrasher.
Released on 2LP and reel-to-reel tape on November 10, 1969 in the US (Warner Bros./Seven Arts, 2WS 1830/WST 1830F DP, on green W7 label) with gatefold cover; reached #64 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold album).
- Re-issued on 2LP in 1970 in the US (Warner Bros., 2WS 1830, on green WB label) with gatefold cover and insert.
- Re-issued on 2LP in the UK (Warner Bros., K 66002) with gatefold cover.
- Re-issued on 2LP in Japan (Warner Bros. P-5014/5W) with gatefold cover.
- Re-issued on 2LP in 1973 in the US (Warner Bros., 2WS 1830, on Burbank label) with gatefold cover. Note: I’ve seen label variations with and without the WB Burbank address along the bottom.
- Re-issued on 2LP in France (Warner Bros., No 66 002, on Burbank label) with gatefold cover.
- Re-issued on 2LP in 1978 in the US (Warner Bros. 2WS 1830, on Burbank label with 1978 publishing date) and Greece (Warner Bros., 66002) with gatefold cover.
- Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Warner Bros., 27181-2) and Germany (Warner Bros., 927 181-2).
- Re-issued on cassette in the US (Warner Bros., J5 1830).
- Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Warner Bros., 1830-2).
- Re-issued on remastered 2LP and compact disc in 2003 in the US (Rhino, 74395-1/2) and on March 26, 2003 in Japan (Warner/Rhino, WPCR-11494) with gatefold cover.
- Repackaged with Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty on 3CD boxed set in 2005 in Australia (Warner, 73252).
- Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl 2LP in 2011 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL-2-365) with gatefold cover.
- Re-released on super high material compact disc on September 18, 2013 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-15139).