Box and vinyl came in yesterday and it is everything I hoped they would be!
First, the physical condition. I am pleased to report everything is pristine! Some people on the boards were complaining about scratches, scuffs, etc on the cds. Not a single one on mine. The box itself was very safe inside a cardboard frame/insert. Through not real wood, as this is replicating a ‘bent-box’, but very sturdy layers of cardboard and decal overlay. No peeling, etc. The vinyl seems to be pristine as well.
Second, audio quality. The ’73 concerts are new to me, but the mix sounds great! Others have complained about Jerry’s vocals/guitar in different places, but this is not a mastering issue, as I understand; you can only work with what’s recorded, and these are recorded on how many ever tracks (I forget how many at the moment), and as the band worked, the levels were adjusted during the first set. A nice balance is fairly quickly achieved.
When comparing my bootlegs of the ’74 concerts to these official releases, the difference is generally a major upgrade. Also, these tapes are more complete (especially Portland, by about 10 minutes).
With what I have sampled from the vinyl. No, it isn’t analouge, but sounds jaw droppingly sweet! Yes, there will be complaints about the percieved misuse of side space leading to more discs and money, but with a band like Dead, if you are going to put a full concert on vinyl, either divide the tracks out like they have to preserve the running order and conncet the jams/transitions, or save and mix them up. I’m glad the PTB went this route.
All things considered, these concerts sound amazing. The balance is nice and separated. Everything is cleaned up, and works as best as it probably can!
Third, aesthetics and worth. This is an absolutely gorgeous! Lots of beautiful art from Roy Henry Vickers, Canada’s preeminent First Nations artist. Really represents the area. Great and informative booklet with lots of photos, fun little wooden box for your stash of treasures- lots to look at and enjoy for time to come. Heck, even the outer shipping box has the fun designs! Most CDs I will resell eventually from my shelf (not vinyl), but this box is something else completely. I want to keep this out somewhere I can look at and engage with daily. It is that fascinating! Absolutely worth the (admittedly) hefty price tag.
All configurations are still available from Dead.net, including newer merch as well. Some more of the art is now also on childrens’ clothes, but not adults, which is a shame. Anyway, I highly recommend the Complete Box Set! Though not yet sold out, it is limited and has been up for quite a while, so if you are interested, I’d say pull the trigger and buy now.