The iTunes Store has a new band page for the Grateful Dead. In addition to better showcasing the band, there are four “collections” of music you can buy here:
The first, Complete Studio Albums collection, is all the studio albums the Dead released, a total of 13. The second, Complete Live Albums Collection, is the live albums the band released before they started issuing live concerts, in the Vault Series, Dick’s Picks, the Download Series, Dave’s Picks and others. This includes the iconic Live/Dead, Skull & Roses (originally called Skullfuck), the best-selling Europe ’72, and the great acoustic Reckoning, among others, for a total of 8 albums.
Two other collections are Complete Studio Rarities and Complete Live Rarities. These are tracks added to the re-issues of Dead albums, The Golden Road and Beyond Description. These two box sets, containing 12 CDs each, have all of the music available in the iTunes Store collections. (Europe ’72, Vol. 2 is absent from the Complete Live Collection, as are a couple of other live releases.) At $116 and $107 for the two box sets, you’d be saving money compared to the iTunes Store prices, which total about $260. Though you’d have to rip the CDs.
Interestingly, in the UK iTunes Store, the prices are much lower. Together, the four collections cost £125, or about $191. This is probably because the Grateful Dead are not as well known in the UK. That’s a big saving over the cost of the box sets, which are £109 each. The Golden Road says it’s an AutoRip set, which means if you buy the CDs, you get the MP3s as well from Amazon, but Beyond Description doesn’t mention that.
The box sets are very nice, and for what they cost, are a better deal. But if you want to get a boatload of Grateful Dead, and not spend time ripping CDs, these four collections are worth getting. The content is varied; if you’re not a Deadhead, you probably don’t want the rarities, and the later studio and live albums aren’t as good as the earlier stuff. But it’s nice to see the Dead getting some attention on the iTunes Store.
Now, if they’d just have a collection of the 36 Dick’s Picks releases at a nice price…