Numbered, Limited Edition! Half-Speed Mastered from the Original Tapes: Ultra-Quiet Pressing Features Spacious, Transparent, Illuminating, and
Rolling Stone 2015 Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Jam Bands: The Grateful Dead Rated 1st!
1971 Double Live Album Presents Legendary Band’s Expansion Into Country Rock,
Traditional Rock and Roll, and Roots Folk
Prototype Document of the Dead’s Second-Era Sound and Lineup: More Accessible,
Concise, and Stripped-Down Performances
Includes Many Longtime Staples of the Band’s Live Repertoire: “Playing in the
Band,” “The Other One,” “Me and My Uncle,” “Bertha,” “Wharf Rat,” and More!
Part of Mobile Fidelity’s Amazing Grateful Dead Reissue Series:
Live/Dead (MFSL 2-365),
Wake Of the Flood (MFSL 1-366), and
In the Dark (MFSL 1-369) also available on 180g LP!
The Grateful Dead took to the start of the 1970s as a different albeit equally
thrilling and eminently broader-reaching band than the ensemble that
revolutionized psychedelia in the late 1960s. Made evident in the back-to-back
studio releases Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, the group increased its
mastery of harmony-driven roots songs distinguished by catchy signatures, more
concise arrangements, and impossibly organic textures. Captured live in spring
1971 and featuring not a single repeated song from Live/Dead, the expressive
performances on Skull & Roses document this stylistic expansion in unsurpassed
fashion. The double-LP constitutes the no-limits sound of an iconic band coming
in to its own.
Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes with the utmost care, and
part of the label’s unprecedented Grateful Dead reissue series, Mobile
Fidelity’s numbered limited edition 180g 2LP version of Skull and Roses presents
the downsized Dead lineup’s most memorable songs in previously unimaginable
fidelity. From the moment Jerry Garcia’s guitar pick touches a string at the
outset of the scampering “Bertha,” the improvements are palpable: Life-size
images, airy vocals, subterranean bass lines, incredibly spacious separation,
tube-amp warmth, faithful tones, and balanced dynamics lead a crystal clear path
to the music and the Dead’s extraordinary collective spark.
Originally captured on a 16-track recorder, the songs brim with rarified levels
of you-are-there realism and reach-out-and-touch immediacy. Notorious for its
exacting sound demands, the Dead achieves the kind of instrumental and
frequency-range transparency that many dedicated audiophiles spend their entire
lives dreaming about. Skull and Roses is a kernel of sonic truth. Such is the
pressing’s degree of detail and insight that listeners will be able to debate
what gauge guitar strings the members are using as they savor every last breath,
riff, and snare hit.
Thankfully, the band’s perfectionist attitude toward sound doesn’t literally
transfer over to its music approach. Loose, lively, playful yet earthy, focused,
and committed, the Dead crackles with boogie-based moxie, greasy soulfulness,
and swaggering bravado, each note seemingly exploding like tiny pieces of magic
that hover in the air and cast hypnotic spells. The group’s embrace of leaner,
tighter, more melodically incisive songs and the swaying rhythms that accompany
the approach directly relate to two key lineup changes: the temporary departure
of drummer Mickey Hart and permanent leave of keyboardist Tom Constanten. As a
result, the Dead toured as a quintet, with Bill Kreutzmann the sole
percussionist and Garcia, bassist Phil Lesh, guitarist/singer Bob Weir, and
keyboardist/vocalist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan rounding out the barer-bone cast.
Not only do Garcia, Lesh, and Weir show tremendous growth as singers, the Dead
as a whole further invest in folk, country, R&B, rock, and blues traditions—via
Garcia’s sweeter tones and Bakersfield picking, Weir’s cowboy twang and
increasingly confident counterpoints, Kreutzmann’s hang-fire beats and scurrying
grooves, Lesh’s weighty sway, McKernan’s foreshadowing spiritual timbres.
Inspired covers of tunes by Merle Haggard (a frisky and defiant “Mama Tried”),
Willie Dixon (the comfortably rumbling, boozy honky tonk “Big Boss Man”), Kris
Kristofferson (the dusty, peaceable tale “Me and Bobby McGee”), Chuck Berry (a
supercharged romping “Johnny B. Goode”), and Buddy Holly (“Not Fade Away,”
segued into “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”) announce the Dead’s intent to
make practically every style of contemporary American music their own, and in
the process — to paraphrase the great Bill Graham — be the only ones that did
what they did.
A similar attitude informed the record’s genesis. The group originally lobbied
to call the album Skullfuck before the record label, at an allegedly chaotic
meeting at the infamous Hyatt Hotel, dissuaded the humorous ploy. While
technically named Grateful Dead, the album is commonly known as Skull and Roses
due to Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouse’s now-iconic cover art. Trivia buffs might
know the latter is based on an illustration for an antique edition of the
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
The 1971 effort also has another huge claim to fame: It included the message
“DEAD FREAKS UNITE. Who are you? Where are you? How are you?” Those simple
lines, and the invitation to respond, created of the Deadhead subculture and
biggest fan list in history, utterly pioneering the industry overnight.
Get it all—the dazzling graphics, dizzying performances, deft sonics—by ordering
your prized collectable edition of Skull and Roses today!
• Numbered, Limited Edition
• Half-Speed Production and Mastering by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
• Specially Plated and Pressed on 180 grams of High Definition Vinyl
• Special Static Free - Dust Free Inner Sleeve
• Heavy Duty Protective Packaging
• Mastered from the Original Master Tapes
LP 1 - Side One:
2. Mama Tried
3. Big Railroad Blues
4. Playing In the Band
LP1 - Side Two:
1. The Other One
LP 2 - Side Three:
1. Me and My Uncle
2. Big Boss Man
3. Me and Bobby McGee
4. Johnny B. Goode
LP2 - Side Four:
1. Wharf Rat
2. Not Fade Away / Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad