Years in the making, today marks the official release of Day Of The Dead, a 59-track tribute to the Grateful Dead curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. What started out as a passion project between brothers quickly escalated to new heights, as the two found themselves fielding contributions from an incredible array of performers. Wilco, Flaming Lips, Bruce Hornsby, Jim James, The War On Drugs, Fucked Up, Belá Fleck, The Lone Bellow, and more appear on the album.
What’s truly remarkable about this release is how each artist is so readily able to make these Grateful Dead songs their own. It’s easy to imagine jam bands covering Grateful Dead songs, but perhaps one of our favorite examples of this adaptability is the “Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower” suite that appears on the album. Belá Fleck takes the lead on “Help > Slip,” stripping the pieces down to just his banjo work and tabla accompaniment. Fleck’s tight laced technique is contrasted with the big production that goes into Orchestra Baobob’s “Franklin’s Tower,” infusing the uplifting song with a Caribbean rhythm and foreign celebratory lyrics. The transition between the two tracks shows the true versatility of the Dead’s music, in full display on the new album.
Day Of The Dead is out today, and can be purchased via 4AD Records. Proceeds from the release will go to Red Hot Organization, a charity group that supports research for AIDS/HIV and other diseases. You can also listen to the album, streaming in full below.