A dazzling tour of the fifty best and most important Grateful Dead concertsA Grateful Dead concert, argues Ray Robertson, is life: alternately compelling and lackluster; familiar and foreign; occasionally sublime and sometimes insipid. And usually all in the same show. Although the Grateful Dead stopped the same day Jerry Garcia's heart did, what the band left behind is the next best thing to being there in the third row. Courtesy of their unorthodox early decision to record every one of their concerts, it's now possible to follow the band's evolution (and devolution) through nearly thirty years of shows, from the R&B-based garage band at the beginning, to the jazz-rock conjurers at their creative peak, to the lumbering, MIDI-manacled monolith of their decline.
In All the Years Combine: The Grateful Dead in Fifty Shows, Robertson listens to and writes about fifty of the band's 's most important and memorable concerts in order to better understand who the Grateful Dead were, what they became, and what they meant--and what they continue to mean.