Next week the Grateful Dead will release a 50th anniversary deluxe reissue of their 1970 country-folk pivot Workingman’s Dead, one of the legendary studio albums from a band known mostly for its live show. That release comprises a new remaster of the original LP plus a full-length concert recorded on February 21, 1971 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. While Deadheads wait for that, they can rejoice at a very different kind of archival project out now.
Today, as a sort of prelude to next week’s reissue, the Dead have served up over two hours of previously unreleased studio outtakes from the Workingman’s Dead sessions, a digital-only release titled Workingman’s Dead: The Angel’s Share. Although peers like the Beatles and Bob Dylan have exhaustively released this kind of material, The Angel’s Share is the first release of its kind from the Dead, who have officially distributed many officially authorized live recordings over the years but never pulled back the curtain on their rehearsals and studio takes.
As a Rolling Stone feature on the project explains, the subtitle The Angel’s Share is whiskey terminology, a reference to the portion of the batch that evaporates out of the barrels during the distillation process. A statement from Rhino Records elaborates, “Much like the whiskey-distillation process, there were also ingredients that were vital to the creation of Workingman’s Dead that were lost and did not end up on the final album, the band’s own version of the ‘angel’s share.'”
Stream the full collection below.
Workingman’s Dead: The Angel’s Share is out now on Rhino. The Workingman’s Dead reissue is out 7/10, also on Rhino.