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 Grateful Dead Binge-A-Thon

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What a long, strange trip it's been. As the legendary journeymen celebrate 50Grateful Dead bears
years with a string of summer shows, a look back at their towering legacy.

By Eric Renner Brown in Entertainment Weekly

The Grateful Deadhey're the greatest jam band in history (sorry, Phish!) and one of the most enduring rock acts of all time -- yet they've never won a Grammy (the group did receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2007) and had only one Top 10 hit during their original 30-year run. Now, two decades after Jerry Garcia's death, the band is saying goodbye to the Grateful Dead with five beyond-sold-out shows. Yet their cross-generational appeal has never been stronger. Here, we celebrate half a century of incredible music. Grab a pint of Cherry Garcia and your preferred herbal refreshment and dive in.

GRATEFUL DEAD BY THE NUMBERS

Garcia's Handprint1.5 - Number of middle fingers Garcia had.

2,318 - Number of shows performed.

Number of acid tabs consumed at Dead shows.

13 - Number of official studio releases.

140 - Number of official live releases.

$2 - Average price of a parking lot burrito at a Dead show circa 1970.

$5,715 - Price of the most expensive premium package for the final Chicago shows (includes a 3-night hotel stay).


5 CELEBRITY DEADHEADS REVEALED

ANDY COHEN
The TV host copped to gobbling 'shrooms at a Red Rocks show back in the day.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN
The Game of Thrones author named Westeros' weirwood trees after guitarist Bob Weir.

WHOOPIE GOLDBERG
"I love me some Dead," she revealed on The View in 2009.

NANCY PELOSI
The ex-Speaker of the House reportedly danced to "Iko Iko" at a fund-raiser.

ANN COULTER
The right-wing pundit has said she owns an "excellent" set of live bootlegs.


THE 8 ESSENTIAL ALBUMS
The band has more than 150 releases. These are the ones you need to own.

Live/Dead (1969) This record, with a far-out "Dark Star," set the bar for live improvisation in rock & roll.

Dick's Picks Vol. 8 (1970) The crown jewel of their 36-volume series has frenetic jams and a gorgeous acoustic set.

Workingman's Dead (1970) Proof they're more than a jam band: This album features the counter-culture anthem "Casey Jones."

American Beauty (1970) Their best studio LP is pure AM gold, with country-tinged tunes even non-Deadheads can love.

Sunshine Daydream (1972) Spark a doobie and cue up "Bird Song" in this recently issued show, long loved by bootleggers.

Live at Barton Hall (1977) There's a reason this is in the Library of Congress: It's simply their greatest concert ever.

Reckoning (1980) This mellow set compiles cuts from a 1980 tour, where the band returned to their acoustic roots.

Wake Up to Find Out (1990) The Grateful Dead are on fire at this spacey, late-career gig with jazz icon Branford Marsalis.





 'World' Music

Blacklight Bar

With 'Before This World', James Taylor looks back at his life on a warm, direct folk album.

by David Browne in Rolling Stone

James Taylor
Before This World
ROCK (Concord)

'Before This World' - James TaylorJames Taylorn his first album of new songs in 13 years -- a long wait even by his meticulous standards -- James Taylor's past is never far in the rearview mirror. "Somehow I haven't died," he observes in "Today Today Today," the album's back-porch-ready single. "Angels of Fenway" is a poignant reflection on his late grandmother and her devotion to the Red Sox; as he sings, 1965, the year Taylor became a Sox fan, "doesn't seem like a long time ago."

The simplicity of the music matches Taylor's nostalgic mood. With its renewed focus on his voice and guitar -- both miraculously unscarred by time and excess -- Before This World is the most direct studio record he has made in many years. Told from an American soldier's conflicted point of view, "Far Afghanistan" has the subtle intensity of Celtic song roots of Taylor's early work. The pairing of the meditative title track with the spring-in-its-step of "Jolly Springtime" feels like an older, wiser version of his multipart classic "Suite for 20G," from 1970. Even with a few slightly cornball moments (the world-music salute "SnowTime") and occasional overreliance on gauzy harmonies that threaten to depersonalize the songs, Before This World is sweet grown-up James. * * * 1/2  

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