The Grateful Dead, a band that has inspired high school students to quote “what a long, strange trip it’s been” in their senior yearbooks for 40-years now (you know which students), is having quite the year in 2015. Not only is the band closing out its five-decade existence (three of them as an active band, it is also the 20th year since founding member Jerry Garcia passed away) with a huge three-day blowout farewell show in July in Chicago, the Dead will also release a physical entity of the perfect analogy of its existence — an exhaustive, overlong 80-disc box set of live music.
The set, “30 Trips Around The Sun,” will feature one entire concert from each year the band was active (1965-1995). That clocks in at about 73-hours of music (die-hards will probably make a very long weekend out of it). The set itself will be a limited edition (only 6,500 will be made) at a price tag of $699.98, but the set will be available digitally as well (as a whole and as individual sets as well, though there will be no individual CD sets of the shows). There will also be a sampler CD set (if you can call a four-disc set a sampler) available that takes one track from each concert in the set.
The Grateful Dead is one of the more unique bands that came out of the 1960s, whether you enjoy the music or not. The band popularized long-form experimental jam music that has, over the years, become popular with many other bands. Including bands I have seen in my younger years. It is one of those bands that people rarely find a middle ground in enjoying. You pretty much like the Dead or you don’t.
But Deadheads are pretty fanatical with releases like this. Say what you will about the band, it has a fanbase that is shockingly loyal and often has an eerie encyclopedic memory of their live sets through the years and what collections you can find them on. From my 10-years of working in record stores, only two bands have such a rabid core of fans: The Grateful Dead and The Insane Clown Posse. Which gives you a hint as to how messed up this world can be at times.
The collection will be released Sept. 18.