The Grateful Dead‘s song “Dark Star” was something of a holy grail for Deadheads attending either their first or 200th show. I once had an iPod playlist that had over seven hours of the legendary jam. So you can imagine my joy when someone turned me on to John Oswald’s 1994/5 two part release Grayfolded, in which he which layered over one hundred live performances of the song from 1969-1993 (it was commissioned by bassist Phil Lesh, who gave him access to GD vault tapes).
I only saw the band play a handful of times, and never got to see them do “Dark Star,” which is one of the reasons Grayfolded was so mind-blowing. It’s a cult object that some say is the ultimate expression of the band’s on-stage exploration. Which makes a new vinyl pressing of the project something to be excited about. The new three-LP re-release by Important Records rescues this sonic masterpiece, in which every member of every version of the band plays off one another in what amounts to the ultimate jam by the band that practically invented the concept.