Whenever I hear about a greatest hits package, I am a bit wary. Do we really need yet another best-of package by this particular artist? And, who is deciding that these are the “very best” that this artist has to offer. This is the case once again with The Very Best of Jerry Garcia. For one, Garcia has thousands of hours of recordings floating around. I’d bet he was one of the most recorded artists ever. The Grateful Dead have some 13,000 live audio and video recordings. Additionally, Jerry Garcia toured extensively with David Grisman, Merl Saunders, Old and In The Way, and The Jerry Garcia Band.
Well, the answer to this question is yes! Please note: Unlike Weir Here: The Best of Bob Weir (which contained mostly Grateful Dead songs, unfortunately), these CDs contains no Grateful Dead recordings! Though I am sure that you know from reading these posts that I am a fan of the Grateful Dead (And yes, I do even own several J. Garcia neckties!) I am not well versed in ALL that Jerry Garcia had to offer musically. With the Jerry Garcia Band, Garcia played in a different style than the Grateful Dead (though the Dead did adopt some of the songs- like The Wheel). With Old and In the Way and with David Grsiman, Garcia performed mountain music. So, though I own many Dead CDs, many of the songs here I had never heard before. I like that it provided songs from both live performances as well as studio albums.
The studio songs that I particularly like are “Rubin and Cherise” which sounds an awful lot like the Grateful Dead song “Built To Last,” though I don’t mind so much, as well as “Cats Under The Stars,” which is just such a beautiful song. My only gripe is that it doesn’t include anything solely with David Grisman or something from The Pizza Tapes. Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Check out this link and you can listen to the whole first CD. Or click here and pick up a copy.