Grateful Dead Confirms ‘Skull & Roses’ 50th Anniversary Reissue

By Scott Bernstein Mar 24, 2021 8:17 am PDT

In 1971, the Grateful Dead released a self-titled live album referred to as Skull & Roses due to Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouse’s cover art. The Grateful Dead will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the LP by reissuing Skull & Roses via Rhino in a variety of formats on June 25. An expanded edition of Skull & Roses features a previously unreleased live recording of the band’s July 2, 1971 show at San Francisco’s Fillmore West. “The Other One” from July 2, 1971 has been shared in advance of the reissue.

Skull & Roses was recorded between March 24 – April 29, 1971. The band’s lineup at the time featured guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and drummer Bill Kreutzmann. The 11-track live album includes standout versions of “Bertha,” “Playing In The Band,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Wharf Rat” and more.

Grammy-winning engineer remastered Skull & Roses from the stereo analog master tapes using Plangent Process Speed Correction. The reissue arrives on vinyl, CD and digitally as both downloads and through streaming services.

“For the Grateful Dead’s second live album, released two years after its predecessor Live/Dead, the band delivered an equally magnificent, but entirely different, Grateful Dead sound. Whereas Live/Dead was a perfect sonic encapsulation of the band at the peak of their Primal Dead era, Skull & Roses captures the quintessential quintet, the original five-piece band, playing some of their hardest hitting rock ‘n’ roll (‘Johnny B. Goode,’ ‘Not Fade Away’), showing off their authentic Bakersfield bona fides (‘Me & My Uncle,’ ‘Mama Tried,’ ‘Me & Bobby McGee’), and some originals that would be important parts of the Dead’s live repertoire for the next 24 years (‘Bertha,’ ‘Playing In The Band,’ ‘Wharf Rat’),” noted Grateful Dead archivist, legacy manager and the reissue’s producer, David Lemieux.

“Of course, the Dead were never defined by one specific ‘sound’ and amongst the aforementioned genres and styles the band brought to this album, they also delved deeply into their psychedelic, primal playbook with an entire side dedicated to their 1968 masterpiece ‘The Other One,’” Lemieux continued. “This is one of the most deeply rich and satisfying tracks preserved on an official Grateful Dead album, up there with Live/Dead’s ‘Dark Star’ and Europe ’72‘s ‘Morning Dew.’ Skull & Roses sounds as fresh today as the first time I heard it in 1985, and as fresh as it was upon its spectacularly well-received release in 1971.”

While the GD vault doesn’t contain a full copy of the band’s July 2, 1971 performance, 10 previously unreleased tracks were found and are included on expanded editions of Skull & Roses. Takes on “Good Lovin’,” “Sing Me Back Home,” “Big Boss Man” and “Not Fade Away” are among them.

Listen to the Grateful Dead’s July 2, 1971 performance of “The Other One” below:

Watch GD archivist David Lemieux discuss the reissues:

Skull & Roses Tracklist

Disc One

  1. Bertha
  2. Mama Tried
  3. Big Railroad Blues
  4. Playing In The Band
  5. The Other One
  6. Me & My Uncle
  7. Big Boss Man
  8. Me & Bobby McGee
  9. Johnny B. Goode
  10. Wharf Rat
  11. Not Fade Away/Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad

Disc Two (Fillmore West, San Francisco 7/2/71)

  1. Good Lovin’
  2. Sing Me Back Home
  3. Mama Tried
  4. Cryptical Envelopment >
  5. Drums >
  6. The Other One
  7. Big Boss Man
  8. Not Fade Away >
  9. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad >
  10. Not Fade Away
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