So Many Roads
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So Many Roads So_Many_Roads_Grateful_Dead

1965 - 1995

A Five Disc Compilation 

 

 
 
 
Order: Amazon  

So Many Roads review

The Grateful Dead’s career spans 30 years and they have a plethora of both studio and live releases in their musical vault. Further, throughout their career, their sound took on many different faces as the musicians and material changed. With the release of So Many Roads there is finally a package that spans their career.  

The songs for So Many Roads were compiled by: David Gans, Blair Jackson, and Steve Silverman. All three are published authors of Grateful Dead books. In addition, David Gans hosts the ongoing Grateful Dead Hour and Blair Jackson was the editor of the former magazine dedicated to the Grateful Dead, The Golden Road. With only five discs to work with this CD could not be expected to cover much ground other than give a tiny sampling of the numerous Grateful Dead eras. 

Most musical artists that put out box sets generally fill them with the artist’s best songs, of which you probably already have many of them. If you’re lucky they’ll include some unreleased items that frequently are average at best. Conversely, the songs chosen for So Many Roads for the most part are heard here first. One exception is “Bird Song,” that was released on a local San Francisco radio stations various artists release. This is easily among the best material on the release.

So Many Roads is mostly live recordings, but it has demos, sound checks, and related rare music. In addition, it is the first release of several Warlocks songs, their early days, and several of their later songs written after Bruce Hornsby left the band. The packaging should also be complemented. Each CD comes with linear notes written by Blair Jackson. In addition, there is a book that includes several well-written articles and numerous photos that date back to the Warlocks days. 

Some of the music was included because it is rare, particularly many songs on the first and fifth discs, but most was included because it represented a superb version of the respective songs.  With so much to choose from within ’73 and ’74 their decision to include the “Watkins Glen Sound Check” and the June 24, 1974, “Dark Star” > “Spanish Jam” >  “U.S. Blues” was brilliant.  A remarkable later era selection is the 17 + minute “Shakedown Street” from December 31, 1984. If early Dead is your cup of tea you’ll treasure the first live release of “Dark Star” > “China Cat Sunflower” > “The Eleven” performed March 16, 1968. Again, all five CD’s includes superb renditions of the Grateful Dead’s music. 

No question So Many Roads was put together masterfully. With a limit of only five discs it is impossible to please everyone and it is easy to complain about what was left off.  My criticism is that Bruce Hornsby is only featured on one song. I think he deserves a song or two more real estate on this box set. Further, the song selections spend too much emphasis on material that was not released, which is not the best Grateful Dead; both with the first half of disc one and a large portion of disc five.

If you are not familiar with the Grateful Dead, So Many Roads is a superb orientation. If you are a hard-core fan there are plenty of splendid rarities. by Barry Small © 
Grade 
B + 

additional So Many Roads reviews

Track List

 Top of Page

Disc 1

 

 1. Can't Come Down (Grateful Dead) - 2:57

11/3/65

Warlocks Demo
 2. Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) (Grateful Dead) - 3:12

11/3/65

Warlocks Demo
 3. You Don't Have to Ask (Grateful Dead) - 3:55

7/16/66

Fillmore, SF
 4. On the Road Again (Traditional) - 2:42

1966

Unlabeled reel
 5. Cream Puff War (Garcia) - 5:37

7/16/66

Fillmore, SF
 6. I Know You Rider (Traditional) - 4:20

1966

San Francisco
 7. The Same Thing (Dixon) - 11:38

3/18/67

San Francisco
 8. Dark Star >  China Cat Sunflower > The Eleven   
     (Garcia / Hunter / Lesh / McKernan / Weir)
- 25:25 

3/16/68

Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco
 9. Clementine (Hunter / Lesh) - 7:49

2/2/68

Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
10. Mason's Children (Garcia / Hunter / Lesh / Weir) - 3:34

1970

Workingman's Dead outtake
11. To Lay Me Down (Garcia / Hunter) - 5:39

1970

American Beauty outtake
Disc 2

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 1. That's It for the Other One (Garcia / Kreutzmann / Weir) - 20:53 

2/27/29

Fillmore West, San Francisco
 2. Beautiful Jam (Grateful Dead) - 4:41 

2/18/71

Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY
 3. Chinatown Shuffle (McKernan) - 2:54 

5/11/72

Rotterdam, The Netherlands
 4. Sing Me Back Home (Haggard) - 10:26 

8/27/72

Veneta, OR
 5. Watkins Glen Soundtrack Jam (Grateful Dead) - 18:31 

7/27/73

Watkins Glen, NY
 6. Dark Star Jam > Spanish Jam > U.S. Blues
     (Garcia / Grateful Dead / Hunter) - 18:59

6/23/74

Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL
Disc 3

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 1. Eyes of the World (Garcia / Hunter) - 18:30

10/19/74

Winterland, San Francisco
 2. The Wheel (Garcia / Hunter) - 11:14

6/29/76

Auditorium Theater, Chicago, IL
 3. Stella Blue (Garcia / Hunter / Hunter) - 11:37 

4/21/78

Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
 4. Estimated Prophet (Barlow / Weir) - 10:52

8/12/79

Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
 5. The Music Never Stopped (Barlow / Weir) - 7:24

10/14/80

Warfield Theater, San Francisco
 6. Shakedown Street (Garcia / Hunter / Hunter) - 17:25 

12/31/84

San Francisco Civic Auditorium
Disc 4

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 1. Cassidy (Barlow/Weir) - 5:47 

11/10/85

Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford
 2. Hey Pocky Way (Modeliste / Neville / Nocentelli / Porter) - 6:02

3/31/89

Greensboro Coliseum, Greesboro
 3. Believe It or Not (Garcia / Hunter) - 5:04

1988

Built To Last outtake
 4. Playing in the Band (Hart / Hunter / Weir) - 12:24

7/29/88

Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA
 5. Gentlemen, Start Your Engines (Barlow / Mydland) - 4:09

1988

Built To Last outtake
 6. Death Don't Have No Mercy (Davis) - 6:41

9/29/89

Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
 7. Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain 
      (Garcia / Hart / Hunter) - 19:34

3/22/90

Copps Coliseum, Ontario, Canada
 8. Bird Song (Garcia/Hunter) - 13:09 *

3/29/90

Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
 9. Jam Out of Terrapin (Grateful Dead) - 5:08

9/8/90

Richfield, OH
Disc 5

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 1. Terrapin Station (Garcia/Hunter/Hunter) - 12:34

9/12/91

Madison Square Garden, NY
 2. Jam Out of Foolish Heart (Grateful Dead) - 5:24

9/18/90

Madison Square Garden, NY
 3. Way to Go Home (Bralove / Hunter / Welnick) - 6:27

7/13/94

The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI
 4. Liberty (Garcia / Hunter / Hunter) - 5:59

3/30/94

The Omni, Atlanta, GA
 5. Lazy River Road (Garcia / Hunter) - 6:57

2/18/93

Rehearsal
 6. Eternity (Dixon / Wasserman / Weir) - 7:35

2/18/93

Rehearsal
 7. Jam into Days Between (Grateful Dead) - 7:04

2/9/93

Rehearsal
 8. Days Between (Garcia / Hunter) - 10:59

2/16/93

Rehearsal
 9. Whiskey in the Jar (Traditional) - 5:14

2/16/93

Rehearsal
10. So Many Roads (Garcia / Hunter / Hunter) - 9:57

7/9/95

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Musicians:       

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Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals
Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan
Tom Constanten, keyboards
Keith Godchaux - keyboards
Bruce Hornsby - keyboards, vocals
Vince Welnick - keyboards, vocals
Bill Kreutzmann - drums
Mickey Hart - drums
Donna Godchaux - vocals

* Guest - Branford Marsalis on Bird Song

Notes:

Top of Page

Released - November 1999
Tape Archivists - Dick Latvala, David Lemieux
Label - Artista
Compiled by - David Gans, Blair Jackson and Steve Silberman
CD track notes - Blair Jackson
A book is included with photos and essays

 
Additional So Many Roads reviews 

Although this compilation of material doesn't cover all of the faces of the Grateful Dead, it sure tries hard to. The early sessions are pretty much useless, though, they were the first commercial releases of these songs. Since then the best of the material is available on their double disc The Birth of the Dead The "Dark Star" here is short, and has only a few minutes of jamming, but it is nice to hear it in it's birth. The "China Cat" afterwards has awful harmonies, but is thankfully short and proceeds into "The Eleven." This is one of the longer versions of it, and it's incredible, with Phil's bass leading the way. The "Clementine" included here is weak as well. (It's much better as a jam on a bonus track of Aoxomoxoa). Ending disc one is a pair of studio outtakes: "Mason's Children" and "To Lay Me Down." Both are nice, but both sound incomplete. 

The second disc of So Many Roads is my favorite disc of the set. The complete "Cryptical-Other One-Cryptical" is out of this world, and I would say it's the finest performance of it I have or will ever hear. The "Beautiful Jam" lives up to it's name, but it would have been better if included in it's full state ("Dark Star" >  "Wharf Rat" > "Dark Star" > "Me and My Uncle") The "Chinatown Shuffle" isn't that great, it was just included on here because it hadn't been released yet. The "Sing Me Back Home" from Veneta is very strong; even the off key Donna can't ruin this beauty. The last two songs on the album, A sound check jam from Watkins Glen and a "Dark Star Jam" > "Spanish Jam" >  "U.S. Blues" shows what the band was all about. The Team of Silberman, Jackson, Gans, showed good judgment by putting these on the album. 

Disc Three drags a little, with "Stella Blue," "The Wheel," and "Estimated Prophet" being nothing special, but the retirement shows "Eyes of the World," a spacey " The Music Never Stopped," and a fun sing along "Shakedown Street" redeem this disc of the box set.  Disc 4 of this set is the weakest, but still has some great songs. The "Cassidy" is among the best I've heard, but I have to say I hate the "Playing in the Band" here. It is the weakest version I have ever heard, and it's a wonder they put it on here. The "Scarlet" >  "Fire," and "Bird Song" are both incredible, with a strong midi performance in the former, and a great Sax part by Branford Marsalis in the latter. 

Disc 5 is what dead fans should be the most excited about -- the lost album. I can say, however, that only about half of these tracks are any good. "Way to Go Home," "Eternity," and "Days Between" are all bores. The rest, however, are perfect. "Liberty," "Lazy River Road," and "So Many Roads," have to be in the top 15 of Garcia-Hunter tunes, even though I wish the SMR wasn't edited. Overall, this box set has a lot of weaknesses, but plenty of strong songs to make up for it.
Disc One B-
Disc Two A+
Disc Three A
Disc Four C+
Disc Five B +
Overall B+  by Zach Smith