Grateful Dead - Dick’s Picks Vol. 26 4/26/69 Chicago, IL 4LP
Real Gone Music
Having surveyed the ‘Seventies with our first two vinyl ventures (Dick’s Picks Vols. 24 & 34) into the Grateful Dead catalog, we really wanted to travel back to the band’s ‘Sixties beginnings for our next multi-LP magnum opus…and boy, did we “pick” the right shows! Recorded but a few months after the shows that formed Live Dead, and featuring a spellbinding version of the “Dark Star”/”St. Stephen”/”The Eleven” medley that was that album’s centerpiece, Dick’s Picks Vol. 26 stands as a worthy counterpoint to what is one of the greatest “official” live albums in rock ‘n’ roll history. Add in the fact it also captures the band working on material for the forthcoming album Aoxomoxoa—including an incredible version of “Mountains of the Moon”—and serves up a real live Dead rarity with a rendition of Jimmy Reed’s “I Know It’s a Sin,” and this is a Pick that’s clearly worthy, one, of coming out on vinyl, and, two, of some special treatment when it does! Which is a challenge we at Real Gone Music relished; so, in addition to re-printing Bear’s notes from the original CD release on the LP insert, we enlisted Bear’s son Starfinder Stanley to provide some added context on behalf of the Owsley Stanley Foundation, from whence the tapes for these shows come. And speaking of those tapes, this 4-LP set is mastered for vinyl by Jeffrey Norman at Mockingbird Mastering, with lacquers cut by Jeff Powell, who got his start at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios and has worked with everybody from Bob Dylan to Gregg Allman to Irma Thomas. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Furnace Record Pressing, the whisper-quiet test pressings were approved by engineer Jeffrey Norman, Dead archivist David Lemieux, and Real Gone’s own Gordon Anderson, so the audio experience that awaits is truly a cut above. As for the packaging, each of the four LPs is housed inside a polyvinyl sleeve carefully nestled (with extra padding!) inside a two-piece hardshell box with insert. We are only pressing 1500 hand-numbered copies of Dick’s Picks Vol. 26; if prior experience is any guide, they will not last long!