In a move sure to delight audiophiles and collectors of classic pop music albums, the Audio Fidelity label will reissue of two classic Grateful Dead albums on 180-gram pure virgin vinyl, in limited numbered edition gatefold packages on June 7th, according to label president Marshall Blonstein. The band’s 1975 BLUES FOR ALLAH and 1978’s SHAKEDOWN STREET will be available from both online and brick-and-mortar retail outlets as the latest offerings in Audio Fidelity’s continuing program of audiophile reissues.
The two Grateful Dead reissues occupy special places in the fabled San Francisco band’s history. BLUES FOR ALLAH, originally released in September of 1975, was the third of only four albums issued on the group’s Grateful Dead Records imprint. While the LP’s best remembered cuts, “Franklin’s Tower” and “The Music Never Stopped,” remained in the band’s concert set list for some 20 years, the title track-the first part of an ambitious suite-was performed only a few times in 1975 before being retired from the band’s repertoire. BLUES FOR ALLAH reached No. 12 on Billboard’s album chart; from the LP, “The Music Never Stopped” was the Dead’s highest charting single since “Uncle John’s Band.”
First issued in November 1978 on Arista Records, SHAKEDOWN STREET was the Dead’s tenth album, its eighth to go Gold. Produced by Little Feat founder Lowell George, it was an eclectic collection that featured updated versions of venerable live Dead favorites (“Good Lovin,'” “All New Minglewood Blues”) and also introduced songs that would become staples of the band’s concerts for years to come, most notably “I Need a Miracle” and “Fire on the Mountain.” The lighthearted SHAKEDOWN STREET cover illustration was done by renowned underground-comics artist Gilbert Shelton, famous for The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Wonder Wart-hog strips. The album remained on the Billboard chart for close to six months, peaking at No. 41.
The Grateful Dead vinyl reissues represent Audio Fidelity’s expanded vinyl release schedule, which has recently included titles such as Cheap Trick’s IN COLOR, Laura Nyro’s FIRST SONGS, Harry Nilsson’s A LITTLE TOUCH OF SCHMILSSON IN THE NIGHT and Kate Bush’s HOUNDS OF LOVE. While the label often issues a title in both Gold-CD and virgin-vinyl formats, Blonstein admits some of the impetus for producing the latter comes from the renewed interest in vinyl LP’s. According to the R.I.A.A., vinyl sales surged 26% in 2010 over the previous year.