Grateful Dead fans with cash to burn will be stoked on the news that they can now purchase an 80-disc box set of the band’s work for $699.98. The box set includes live recordings from 30 of the band’s shows, hence the title Grateful Dead: 30 Trips Around The Sun, and it will be released in conjunction with the band’s 50th anniversary in September. The product has been a long time in the making, and Dead archivist David Lemieux’s statement about why he chose to honor the anniversary in this particular way can be found on the band’s official website:
When we began discussing audio projects to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead back in 2012, we knew we wanted to do something completely unprecedented. We could think of nothing more exciting or ambitious than a career-spanning overview of the band’s live legacy focused on what best tells the story: complete concerts. Our first criterion was the very best live music to represent any given year in the band’s history. We wanted to make sure that there were not only the tent-pole shows that fans have been demanding for decades but also ones that are slightly more under the radar, but equally excellent. For those who listen to the entire box straight through, chronologically, the narrative of the Grateful Dead’s live legacy will be seen as second to none in the pantheon of music history.
The compilation is available as both an 80-disc set and a custom-made lighting-bolt USB drive. Both hold more than 73 hours of music. According to the site, the following will be included with both formats:
The 80-disc boxed set is individually numbered and limited to 6,500 copies, a nod to the band’s formation in 1965. Along with the CDs, it also includes a gold-colored 7-inch vinyl single which bookends the band’s career. The A-side is “Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)” from the band’s earliest recording session in 1965 with the B-side of the last song the band ever performed together live, “Box Of Rain” recorded during their final encore at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995.
The box also comes with a 288-page book that features an extensive, career-spanning essay written by Nick Meriwether, who oversees the Dead archives at the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with special remembrances of the band submitted by fans. Also included is a scroll that offers a visual representation of how the band’s live repertoire has evolved through the years.
The USB drive version will be shaped like a gold lightning bolt with the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary logo engraved on the side. The drive includes all of the music from the collection in both FLAC (96/24) and MP3 formats and is an individually numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies.
The compilation will not be available in-stores and must be ordered through the band’s official website. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke just published an extensive interview with David Lemieux about the box set. You can read that here, and check out a live version of “Morning Dew” from a 1987 Madison Square Garden show below.
Grateful Dead: 30 Trips Around The Sun is out 9/18 via Dead.net.