What a Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead
Released in 1977 as a double album covering the prime Grateful Dead years of 1967 to 1972, What a Long Strange Trip It's Been served as an introduction for many second-generation Deadheads who were too young to have witnessed the early years in person. It features the first album appearance of the studio version of the iconic live track "Dark Star" and its b-side "Born Cross-Eyed," plus a batch of previously released live recordings that further emphasized that the Dead were primarily a live band. On this (sort of) best-of album, the only songs that had broken past Dead circles were "Truckin'," "Ripple," "St. Stephen," and "Black Peter," the latter two appearing as live versions. In the 21st century, many different options exist for putting together a coherent introductory to the Dead. But this 18-track set still deserves a chance—it obviously did the trick for the fans who joined the legions in the late '70s and '80s.