Grateful Dead’s 1971 Live ‘Skull & Roses’ LP Gets Expanded

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The Grateful Dead’s self-titled 1971 live album, known to fans as “Skull & Roses” (and originally to be called Skullfuck, until Warner Bros. Records nixed that idea), has received an expanded for its 50th anniversary. The new edition arrived on June 25, 2021.

Grateful Dead earned the band its first-ever gold record. “Skull & Roses” (a reference to the cover art by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse) included songs recorded in March and April 1971 in New York and the band’s hometown, San Francisco.

Related: Read our Album Rewind of the expanded American Beauty

Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses): Expanded Edition includes the album’s original’s 11 tracks, which have been remastered from the stereo analog master tapes by Grammy Award-winning engineer David Glasser. The set also includes a bonus disc with 10 previously unreleased live tracks that were recorded on July 2, 1971, at Fillmore West, the band’s final performance at the historic San Francisco venue.

Between the original album and the added Fillmore set, Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses) is heavy with cover versions, including two Merle Haggard-written tunes (“Sing Me Back Home” and “Mama Tried”), the Rascals/Olympics rocker “Good Lovin'” (with a lead vocal by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan), Jimmy Reed’s blues “Big Boss Man” (also sung by Pigpen), Noah Lewis’ “Big Railroad Blues,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Listen to “Me and Bobby McGee” from the April 27, 1971, Fillmore concert

There are a couple of jams that never left the Dead’s repertoire: John Phillips’ “Me and My Uncle” and the medley of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Woody Guthrie’s “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad.” In addition to “The Other One,” Dead originals “Bertha,” “Wharf Rat” and “Playing in the Band”–all new to their setlist–also make appearances.

Listen to a classic cover duo

Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses) has also been made available as a double-LP set that features the newly remastered version of the original album pressed on 180-gram vinyl.

Listen to the nearly 18-minute cover of “Good Lovin'”

CD Track Listing

Disc One: Original Album Remastered
1. “Bertha”
2. “Mama Tried”
3. “Big Railroad Blues”
4. “Playing In The Band”
5. “The Other One”
6. “Me & My Uncle”
7. “Big Boss Man”
8. “Me & Bobby McGee”
9. “Johnny B. Goode”
10. “Wharf Rat”
11. “Not Fade Away/Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad”

Disc Two: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA (7/2/71)
1. “Good Lovin’” *
2. “Sing Me Back Home” *
3. “Mama Tried” *
4. “Cryptical Envelopment”> *
5. Drums> *
6. “The Other One” *
7. “Big Boss Man” *
8. “Not Fade Away”> *
9. “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” *
10. “Not Fade Away” *

* previously unreleased

Listen to the previously unreleased “The Other One” from Fillmore West, July 2, 1971

In other Dead-related news, Jerry Garcia Music Arts and Malcolm Leo Productions are partnering to produce a new feature-length documentary with never-before-seen footage of the “private thoughts and reflections of the late Garcia.”

“Facets II,” a painting by Jerry Garcia

According to a press release, Jerry Garcia, Artist is an “immersive film experience that focuses on the creative spirit of Garcia.” The documentary is based on a 1987 interview directed by Leo and filmed at the band’s headquarters, Front Street Studio in San Rafael, Calif., by the Academy Award-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter. It features Garcia speaking about his music and art.

Garcia’s family is coproducing the documentary and has contributed visual art and music to the project. The documentary includes a charitable component that will benefit the Jerry Garcia Foundation as well as a charity of the co-producer’s choice.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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