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on 28 March 2002
As the saying goes, you're either on the bus or off the bus, and this collection by its sheer size and cost is not going to be for the casual listener. A pity,that,because it contains some gorgeous, intriguing music.
The Dead ploughed a unique furrow from psychedelia through to acoustic country/folk via many baroque twists and turns in the period this collection covers - 1966 through to 1972. On the way they picked up the makings of a fanatical following, and even enjoyed mainstream success and gold records. But they had yet to become the iconic "last of the hippie" band of their latter era.
What's new here is mostly from the earliest phase of the dead - 1966-1969, and dissappointingly the key album of them all, Live Dead merely adds a minute or so intro to their most astonishing and enduring work, "Dark Star".
But check out the bonus tracks on the Anthem disc- ferocious jams and relentless noise- to get a fair idea of how menacing the dead could sound at their psychedelic best.
One revelation is how good "Europe 72" sounds after all these years.
Packaging is excellent- a lavish booklet and each disc in its own gatefold sleeve.
Is it worth the money? Ifyou're seriously wanting to get into the dead's music, then go for some of the wonderful Dick's Picks series to hear them at their peak.
Ones which are indespensable: Dicks Picks 3, 4, 10, 11, 12 and 18.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2003
Worth every penny. Rhino are releasing the CDs individually now but it's great to have such a beautifully packaged box set.
All remastered in fabulous HDCD with well chosen bonus tracks, each of the CDs will now be the definitive version. The first double CD, The Birth of the Dead is of amazing audio quality given that these early recordings were made in 1965-1967 before they were signed up by Warner Bros. My only problem is setting aside enough time to listen to them all!
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on 29 November 2001
12 CD's copying existing material for the price may seem excessive but this is a beautifuuly produced package with miniature original sleeves and new notes. Deadhead completists will centre on 2 aspects, new mix and new tracks. The mix takes some getting used to. For instance, the legendary 'Eleven' segue from 'Live Dead' seems to enhance the organ to the detriment of the lead guitar of Garcia. However that has the benefit of feeling like a whole new version so no complaints there.The previously unreleased material shows some real finds, demonstrating that the group could really cook in the studio as well as live. Much new material focuses on Pigpen, and that is to be welcomed as his blues feel gave a fine balance to the strange concoction of country and psychedelic that was the Dead in their pomp.
Overall, a fine acheivement. Dead fans should not hesitate- take out a second mortgage if necessary but get this set you must.
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on 15 October 2011
I've bought all this of stuff on vinyl. I've bought it again on CD [ and let's face it, we were forced to]; and to have to buy it again some years later because of bonus material [and original artwork/ liner notes], it kinda sticks in the craw. That being said, these are some of your all-time favourte albums...well, you know what I mean???
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 May 2008
When it comes to lavish reissues, few companies can equal Rhino. I've owned this set for several years now (that's how long it takes to absorb the immense amount of material contained in this smart box) and although I've seen fine successors in the shape of the Jerry Garcia set, All Good Things, and the follow-up Dead set, Beyond Description, (both also by Rhino) it's this one that provides the most compelling argument for making the Dead a part of your life. In fact, it might almost be worth forcing oneself to like the Dead just so you can enjoy this set!

In terms of compulsory listening, Live/Dead, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty are all albums that deserve any music enthusiast's time, whether they like the Dead or not. The psychedelic trilogy of The Grateful Dead (1967), Aoxomoxoa and Anthem To The Sun are also massively significant to anyone with even a casual interest in psychedelia, while the live albums Europe '72 and Skulls & Roses are both beloved by fans. That leaves only three discs (of 12) which would primarily be aimed at committed deadheads.

In terms of extras, this set is also essential. While not every additional version is welcome (a live performance of "Attics of my Life", for example, feels like filler) there are tracks here that will rightly tempt those who own some or all of the original CD releases: a 15-minute "Eleven Jam", a 23-minute "Viola Lee's Blues", an 18-minute "Alligator", half an hour of new music for Europe '72 and loads more, including many Easter eggs.

Due to the high number of high-quality boxed sets devoted to the Dead, the options are almost overwhelming, and if you're considering this to be your "single purchase" entry into the world of the Dead then I'd also recommend that you check out The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack. Factor in the highly informative booklet - and the sheer historical significance of much of this material - and this set should certainly be high on any music fan's wishlist.
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on 7 April 2011
Incredible box set with 12 cd's of one of the best american bands ever. Each cd has extra stuff and the box includes a wonderful mini-book with many pictures and documnetation from the band. Don't hesitate on buying this magical material. It is worth the price.
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on 22 November 2015
I'm not a Dead fanatic. Much of their music I find acceptable, at best. My five star rating is for the packaging. This is second to none, and a real example to other artists and labels. These albums are housed in individual plastic trays, each with a gatefold cover. Colours are deep and rich, information clearly printed. Respectful and superlative. None of those simple cardboard sleeves that have a tendency to scratch the discs, such as the Dylan Complete Album box. I bought this box, was so impressed with the pacakaging, that I also bought the Beyond Description box, equally well packaged. So if you like the Dead, or are more than curious, you can't go wrong with this box.
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on 5 March 2015
Incredible music off the dead in their best years. Deserves 5 stars but let down a little by poor quality control on assembly off the covers and booklets
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on 2 May 2013
Grateful Dead are truly legends and one of the best ever!I've bought this box set before ten years for 700kn/135$.The box contains 11 cds with many unreleased materials on bonus tracks.Track list:Early recordings on double cd Birth of the Dead with various sessions,The Grateful Dead,first album,Anthem of the Sun,very strange mixture,beautiful Aoxomoxoa,powerful Live/Dead album,I can say today,my serious cornerstone Workingman's Dead,platinum American Beauty,Grateful Dead live from 71'(also known as Skull and Roses),double endless trip through live Europe 72(Ron was here three days 71') and awesome live document Bear's Choice vol 1. My best recommendations!Rest in peace Jerry and Ron!
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on 13 June 2016
One of the best ever
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