New Big Grateful Dead Box Set Explores the Band’s 30 Years of Performing

30 trips around the worldYou knew it had to happen. As the Grateful Dead celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary, the ever-ingenious people at their organization had to come up with a big box set, something even bigger than the 2011 Europe ’72 box set. And they have.

30 Trips Around the Sun, to be released in September, is the biggest box set the Dead have released; perhaps the biggest rock box set ever. It contains 30 unreleased live concerts, one from each year of the band’s performance history. Starting in 1966 – there are no tapes from 1965 – this 80-disc set covers concerts from all around the world.

It’s not cheap, however. Limited to 6,500 copies, it is selling for $700. There’s also a 1,000-unit USB version, which contains MP3 files and high-resolution 24/96 files, at the same price. Here’s what the Grateful Dead website says:

We are more than pleased to announce the Grateful Dead’s most ambitious release ever: 30 TRIPS AROUND THE SUN. Available as both an 80-disc boxed set and a custom lightning-bolt USB drive, the collection includes 30 unreleased live shows, one for each year the band was together from 1966 to 1995, along with one track from their earliest recording sessions in 1965. Packed with over 73 hours of music, both the boxed set and the USB drive will be individually numbered limited editions.

The 80-disc boxed set is individually numbered and limited to 6,500 copies, a nod to the band’s formation in 1965. Along with the CDs, it also includes a gold-colored 7-inch vinyl single which bookends the band’s career. The A-side is “Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)” from the band’s earliest recording session in 1965 with the B-side of the last song the band ever performed together live, “Box Of Rain” recorded during their final encore at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995.

The box also comes with a 288-page book that features an extensive, career-spanning essay written by Nick Meriwether, who oversees the Dead archives at the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with special remembrances of the band submitted by fans. Also included is a scroll that offers a visual representation of how the band’s live repertoire has evolved through the years.

Here are the dates of the 30 concerts in the set:

1966 – 7/3, Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
1967 – 11/10, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA
1968 – 10/20, Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA
1969 – 2/22, The Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA
1970 – 4/15, Winterland, San Francisco, CA
1971 – 3/18, Fox Theater, St. Louis, MO
1972 – 9/24, Palace Theater, Waterbury, CT
1973 – 11/14, San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, CA
1974 – 9/18, Parc des Expositions, Dijon, France
1975 – 9/28, Lindley Meadows, Golden gate Park, San Francisco, CA
1976 – 10/3, Cobo Arena, Detroit, MI
1977 – 4/25, Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ
1978 – 5/14, Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI
1979 – 10/27, Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA
1980 – 11/28, Lakeland Civic Center, Lakeland, FL
1981 – 5/16, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
1982 – 7/31, Manor Downs, Austin, TX
1983 – 10/21, The Centrum, Worchester, MA
1984 – 10/12, Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, ME
1985 – 6/24, River Bend Music Center, Cincinnati, OH
1986 – 5/3, Cal Expo Amphitheater, Sacramento, CA
1987 – 9/18, Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
1988 – 7/3, Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME
1989 – 10/26, Miami Arena, Miami, FL
1990 – 10/27, Zenith, Paris, France
1991 – 9/10, Madison Square Garden, NY, NY
1992 – 3/20, Copps Coliseum, Ontario, Canada
1993 – 3/27, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY
1994 – 10/1, Boston Garden, Boston, MA
1995 – 2/21, Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT

To be fair, I’m not a fan of the later period of the Grateful Dead, but I won’t miss out on this set. I’ve ordered mine, and I expect it to be sold out very, very quickly. So if you want one, act now; you won’t get another chance (except on eBay).

Here’s a preview from the 9/18/87 Madison Square Garden show; the great Morning Dew: