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Built To Last

Grateful Dead

Initial release : October 31, 1989

Arista ARCD-8575 (LP AL-8575, cassette AC-8575)

The 21st Dead album, their last to be recorded in the studio.


  • Foolish Heart (Garcia/Hunter)
  • Just A Little Light (Mydland/Barlow)
  • Victim Or The Crime (Weir/Graham)
  • Standing On The Moon (Garcia/Hunter)
  • Blow Away (Mydland/Barlow)
  • Picasso Moon (Weir/Barlow/Bralove)
  • Built To Last (Garcia/Hunter)
  • I Will Take You Home (Mydland/Barlow)

  • We Can Run (Mydland/Barlow) (Included only on CD and cassette releases)
Bonus tracks on CD version released in the Beyond Description box set in 2004 and as a separate CD in 2006;
  • Foolish Heart (Garcia / Hunter) - Live, 7/19/89
  • Blow Away (Mydland / Barlow) - Live, 7/7/89
  • California Earthquake (Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On) (Crowell) - Live, 10/20/89

  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Mickey Hart - drums
  • Bill Kreutzmann - drums
  • Phil Lesh - bass
  • Brent Mydland - keyboards, vocals
  • Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

  • Producer - Jerry Garcia, John Cutler
  • Associate Producer/Programmer - Bob Bralove
  • Engineers - John Cutler, Tom Flye, Jeff Sterling, David Roberts, Peter Miller, Justin Kreutzmann, Chris Wiskes
  • Digital mastering - Joe Gastwirt

  • Album co-ordination/Tour management - Jon McIntire, Cameron Sears
  • Grateful Dead crew - Ram Rod, Bill Candelario, Steve Parish, Harry Popick, Robbie Taylor, Billy Grillo
  • Concert sound - Dan Healy
  • Lighting designer - Candace Brightman
  • Grateful Dead Office - Eileen Law, Janet Knudsen, Sue Stephens, Mary Jo Meinolf, Maruska Nelson, Annette Flowers, Basia Raizene, Diane Geoppo, Nancy Mallonee, Cassidy Law, Danny Rifkin
  • Legal counsel - Hal Kant
  • Catering - Dick Latvala
  • Sage - Bill Legate
  • Publicity - Dennis McNally
  • Cover art and direction - Alton Kelly
  • Photography - Ken Friedman
  • House of cards - Anabelle Garcia, Ari Hollander, Aaron Muszalski

  • Recorded at Club Front, San Rafael (2/1/89 - 2/22/89); Skywalker Ranch, San Rafael (2/89 - 6/89); Studio X, Petaluma (2/89 - 6/89)
  • Mixed at Club Front
  • Special thanks to - John Scher, LeMobile - Guy Charbonneau, LucasFilm - George Lucas, Sprocket Systems - Tom Kobayashi and Tom Scott, John Kahn, Ultra Sound, Power Station, Eric Colby, Jeff Briss, Fred Layn, Jeffrey Norman, Howard Danchik, Clive Davis, Roy Lott, Bill Berger, Milton Sincoff, Sean Coakley, Rick Bisceglia, Ken Levy

The Dead originally wanted to record this album using the method that they had used successfully for their previous album, In The Dark, by laying down the basic tracks in a pseudo-live situation at the Marin County Veterans Auditorium. But this approach didn't work the second time around.

They ended up using a much different method. A basic rhythm and song structure was decided for each piece then each band member worked individually on their own part. The complete songs were not heard until the parts were mixed by Garcia and Cutler.

Garcia commented on the album, and compared it to their previous album In The Dark, in an interview;

.... [it's] a lot more considerate of the material, and it's much more of a record in that each song has it's own personality in a more controlled kind of way. The fundamental sound of the thing is better, and also, the space in which they occur is better. It has better vocals and better songs, too.
It was during the recording of Built to last that Garcia spoke about the Dead in the recording studio;
Mostly, recording, for us, is like pulling teeth. We've never been able to find a way to make it fun. For me the hard part is being a producer and a performer; finding that objective ear used to drive me crazy, especially the way the Grateful Dead works.
Built To Last was the first Dead album to benefit from the Dead's increase in the use of MIDI technology.

The house of cards used on the cover was built by Garcia's daughter Anabelle and friends. Garcia spoke about the cover in an interview;

. . . I thought it up, it's the first time I've ever had any record cover thoughts . . . I thought it was more of a joke really. It's the idea of 'built to last' - kind of pretentious. I wanted to kind of let some of the air out of that idea. . . I think looking at it now I would have done it slightly differently but next time I'll know better. I really wanted the house to loom a little larger and the band to be a little smaller . . . I didn't want a portrait of the band. I wanted the band to be insubstantial, shadowy figures in the background, and I wanted the house of cards to be the star of the picture.
Related releases

One single was released in conjunction with this album;

Limited edition (Arista ARCD-8575-DL) release with title Dead In A Deck, in packaging that resembles a pack of playing cards. Includes a pack of cards and group photographs.

A remastered, expanded version of Built To Last was included in the box set;

This remastered, expanded version was released as a single CD in 2006.

All tracks from Built To Last were included on the digital release;

Foolish Heart, Built To Last, Just A Little Light, Picasso Moon and Standing On The Moon were included on; Two outtakes from the Built To Last studio sessions, Believe It Or Not and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines, are included on; A remastered, vinyl edition of Built To Last was released in 2024.

album cover

Expanded version
album cover

album cover

Japanese card sleeve
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