An interesting concept: a compilation of the original versions of 17 songs frequently covered by The Grateful Dead in concert. Thoughtfully assembled, it showcases several aspects of their eclectic roots, encompassing jug band folk, country & western, Appalachian mountain music, country blues, '50s Chicago electric blues, R&B, Dylan, Guthrie, Holly, Berry, and more. Some of the recordings are very famous (Dylan's "It's All over Now, Baby Blue," Holly's "Not Fade Away"); others are downright obscure (Obray Ramsey's "Rain and Snow," the rare original version of "Morning Dew" by little-known Canadian folkie Bonnie Dobson). If you're a Dead fan, this is a valuable, very listenable collection of some of their key influences. It may seem churlish to point this out to Deadheads, but if you're not a Dead fan, you'll find this to be a first-rate collection of roots music that's much more enjoyable than hearing The Dead's interpretations of the same tunes.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger