Longtime Deadheads Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan head up a new album of Grateful Dead covers set for release this summer. Stolen Roses
is currently scheduled for release on August 1 on Grateful Dead Records. Deadicated head David Gans, who produced the group's So Many Roads
box set last year assembled and produced the project.
For the past fifteen years, Gans has hosted The Grateful Dead Hour
, a syndicated radio show that spotlights the group. "Throughout my radio career, one of the things I enjoyed most was discovering Grateful Dead songs by other people and putting them on the air," Gans says. Gans set out to collect previously released, but widely unavailable covers for the project. He believes the notion of a Dead cover began as far back as 1972 with a Chris Smither take on "Friend of the Devil."
"This is not a tribute in the sense that so many of these tributes are," Gans says. "I didn't organize a bunch of people to record a CD just for commercial release." Instead Gans wanted to pour through decades of Grateful Dead covers and assemble an album out of songs that reflected the group's broad musical dynamic. "The Grateful Dead are a phenomenal nexus of musical styles in their songs and influences," he says.
But Gans' execution of the project didn't quite adhere to his original vision. Gans heard that Patti Smith was in the studio the day that Jerry Garcia died and upon hearing of Garcia's passing, Smith recorded "Black Peter." When asked for permission to use the unreleased track, Smith said yes. He also checked in with Widespread Panic, who regularly covered "Cream Puff War" in their Dead-esque improv-filled sets. Panic happened to be in the studio and cut an exclusive version of the song for the album. Gans also managed to get Dawg-music innovator David Grisman to offer up an eleven-minute "Dark Star."
Costello is the lone returnee from Deadicated
, the ten-year old tribute that featured acts as diverse as Jane's Addiction, Burning Spear, Cowboy Junkies, Suzanne Vega and Los Lobos. Though he again tackles "Ship of Fools," this time Costello serves up a live version. Gospel-greats the Persuasions took a turn on "Black Muddy River." The a capella quartet is currently in the studio recording an entire album of Grateful Dead tracks, something of a loose sequel to their Frankly A Capella
, a collection of Frank Zappa songs they covered and released last year (the new album is slated for release in October, also on Grateful Dead Records). The Bobs, another a capella unit, take a turn on "The Golden Road."
As producer Gans was in the unenviable position of having to choose between various takes on a single track. Thus, former Byrd Chris Hillman's "Ripple" failed to make the cut this time around in favor of a New Orleans-flavored, funereal take on the song by avant-jazz unit Sex Mob. The lineup for the album hasn't been completely solidified, but other confirmed tracks include the Cache Valley Drifters, a bluegrass unit who play "Cumberland Blues," New York free-jazz mainstay Joe Gallant and the Illuminati on "Unbroken Chain" and the Stanford University Marching Band on "Uncle John's Band." The compilation also includes a version of "High Times" covered by the cast and band from Michael Norman Mann's stage production, Cumberland Blues
, as well as Colorado's Leftover Salmon's alteration of "Fire on the Mountain" (re-titled "Pasta on the Mountain"), which reflects their weedy connection to Garcia and Co.
Written by ANDREW DANSBY for RollingStone.com News