Set for release on November 22nd is the new Grateful Dead album, titled, Ready Or Not. The collection, compiled by the band’s archivist David Lemieux, features nine unreleased live versions of late-period Grateful Dead songs that debuted in 1992 and 1993. The collection’s tracklist reflects what might have been the band’s next official studio album following 1989's Built to Last. The Ready Or Not songs were recorded between 1992 and 1995, featuring the band's final lineup, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and then-new keyboardist Vince Welnick.
Lemieux explained, “Ready Or Not has been a long time coming. It’s an album we've been working on for many years. This batch of ‘new’ Grateful Dead songs has never been compiled in one place and given its proper due as a huge part of the Dead's late-era legacy. Many of these songs can easily stand alongside some of the Dead's oldest, most-loved songs as bona fide classics despite their short tenure in the repertoire. We've dug deep into the archive and listened to countless live versions of these songs to find the best, most definitive live performances. When the Grateful Dead were ‘on’ in their later years, their live concerts were as good as any era in their history. The nine songs on Ready Or Not exemplify how good the Dead could be in their later years of touring.”
According to the press release: “Four of the album’s nine tracks originally debuted during a two-day period in February 1993, including 'Lazy River Road,' 'Liberty,' and 'Eternity,' a song that (Bob) Weir wrote with Rob Wasserman and blues legend Willie Dixon. Another was 'Days Between.' This grand and achingly nostalgic Robert Hunter and (Jerry) Garcia composition closes the album with a version that was recorded in December 1994 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.”
Bob Weir has dove into some of the Dead's live tapes in order to brush up on some of the band's more obscure arrangements. He admitted to us that it's hardly his favorite thing to do: “Every now and again I'll be listening to a tape of us from way back when. Y'know, particularly if I'm trying to teach somebody how a song is supposed to go. And, y'know, sometimes I find it kinda remarkable: 'We had a lot of spunk back then,' or whatever, or 'It sounds pretty trashy to me.' We went through eras. It's kinda fun every now and again to listen to yourself from 30 years ago; but I can't do it that much.”
Drummer Mickey Hart admits that with so many Dead shows under his belt, some legendary gigs seem blurrier than others: “It pretty well falls into, y'know, history. I mean, we've done so many concerts that sometimes, we can remember the concerts, but what we played (chuckles) — I don't think so. That's left up to the archivists, the historians, and for the people now to savor it. We sort of cut it loose. You have to do that in music, 'cause if you live in the past and you have too much memory of that, there's no room for the present and the future. We just kept moving, moving, moving, and playing, playing, playing, and it was just fortunate enough that we have recorded most of the legacy.”
The tracklisting to The Grateful Dead's Ready Or Not:
“Liberty” – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY (10/14/94) “Eternity” – The Pyramid, Memphis, TN (4/2/95) “Lazy River Road” – Dean Smith Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC (3/25/93) “Samba In The Rain” – The Omni, Atlanta, GA (3/30/95) “So Many Roads” – Star Lake Amphitheatre, Burgettstown, PA (6/23/92) “Way To Go Home” – Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, IN (6/28/92) “Corrina” – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY (10/14/94) “Easy Answers” – Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA (9/13/93) “Days Between” – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA (12/11/94)