The Grateful Dead
Grateful DeadInitial release : March 1967
Warner Bros. WS-1689
The first Grateful Dead album. LP originally released in 1967. An expanded CD version of the album was released in 2003. A limited edition vinyl version was released for Record Store Day in 2011. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the album a picture disc LP and a double CD deluxe edition of the album were released in 2017.
San Francisco's Grateful Dead:Credits
Recorded in roughly three days in January 1967 in Los Angeles. The Dead supposedly selected Dave Hassinger, a Warner Brothers staff producer, because he had worked as engineer on two Rolling Stones records that they liked.
Golden Road was recorded separately at Coast Recorders in San Francisco.
In an early interview Garcia described the album;
I think our album is honest. It sounds just like us. It even has mistakes on it. But it also has a certain amount of excitement on it. It sounds like we felt good when we were making it. We made it in a short period, four days, and it's the material we've been doing onstage for quite a long time. It sounds like one of our good sets.In an interview for Rolling Stone Garcia provided one explanation for the fast tempos of the songs on the album;
... So we went down there and what was it we had, Dexamyl? Some sort of dietwatcher's speed, and pot and stuff like that. So in three nights we played some hyperactive music.The album was not a commercial success and failed to get into the Billboard top 100 album chart.
Cryptic or ambiguous lettering has been a feature of a number of Grateful Dead LP sleeves. The lettering at the top of this cover reads;
In the land of the dark the ship of the sun is driven by thewhich is followed by the easily readable;
Grateful DeadThe original design included lettering that was more easily readable but the band asked for it to be changed. Garcia explained their reasoning in an interview with Ralph Gleason in 1969;
We didn't like it because we thought it was a tad pretentious. So we talked to Stanley [Mouse] and said could you do something that almost says something but doesn't quite. The result of that has been that all the places we've been where people have had the album, we've been able to hear their translations.McGannahan Skjellyfetti was a pseudonym used by the Dead for the three group compositions on the album. The name derives originally from a character in Kenneth Patchen's "Memoirs Of A Shy Pornographer", although the name was possibly used by the Dead because one of the band members had a cat of that name.
Note that Cold Rain and Snow and New, New Minglewood Blues though credited as band compositions are adaptations of existing songs.
Initially released with a gold Warner Brothers label and then reissued in 1968 by Warner Brothers (as WS 1689) with a green label.
One single was released in conjunction with this LP:
The album was included with bonus tracks in the box set:
A limited edition vinyl was released for record store day in April 2011.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Grateful Dead album a double CD deluxe edition of the album was released in 2017:
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2017 picture LP
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Record store day vinyl