The year 2022 was a banner one for Bob Weir. In addition to mounting another celebrated summer tour with Dead & Company, the co-founding Grateful Dead guitarist hosted his own three-night 75th birthday party at The Warfield and performed four nights with the National Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that, Bobby celebrated another milestone marking the 50th anniversary of his seminal solo album, Ace. To commemorate the occasion properly, Bob Weir and his Wolf Bros along with The Wolf Pack and an array of special guests visited New York’s famed Radio City Music Hall, audio of which is on the new Ace: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, out now.

Ace was a watershed moment for both Weir and the Grateful Dead. After cutting their teeth through spastic studio releases including their self-titled 1967 debut, 1968’s hybrid Anthem of the Sun, and 1969’s Aoxomoxoa, the Dead finally came into their own as a studio band with the 1970 double dose of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Shortly after that, Jerry GarciaMickey Hart, and Weir all accepted Warner Bros. Records‘ offer to cut solo albums. What set Weir’s Ace apart is that his backing band consisted entirely of the Grateful Dead (minus Ron “Pigpen” McKernan), something Bobby hadn’t originally planned on but could see coming.

“I pretty much knew in the back of my mind what would happen,” Weir told Crawdaddy a few months after the sessions in 1972. “I go and get the time booked and start putting the material together. Everybody gets wind of the fact I got the time booked and I may be going into the studio. So, one by one, they start coming around…”

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The resulting Ace became the definitive studio document of many live Grateful Dead favorites. All of the album’s eight songs, with the exception of “Walk In The Sunshine”, became staples of the Dead’s repertoire for the following two decades up until the band’s dissolution in 1995 following Garcia’s death. With the 50th anniversary edition of Ace, listeners hear side-by-side the way that these songs have evolved from the studio to the stage as living, breathing things. Remastered audio of the original Ace recordings is paired with a full-album performance taken from one night of the Radio City run, featuring sit-ins from Tyler Childers and Brittney Spencer (John Mayer also performed at the run but does not appear on the reissue).

“These songs are visitors, that they’re living critters and they’re visitors from another world, another dimension or whatever you want to call it, that come through the artists to visit this world, have a look around, tell their stories,” Weir told NPR back in November. “I don’t know exactly how that works, but I do know that it’s real.”

Stream the Ace: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition below or order the album on CD here. The remastered album will also be available on custom “high roller” pearl white vinyl exclusively from A black vinyl version will follow on February 3rd. Revisit Live For Live Music‘s coverage of nights one and two of the run.

Bob Weir – Ace: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Full Album)