What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

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What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
A dimly-lit silhouette of a skeleton
Greatest hits album by Grateful Dead
Released August 18, 1977 (1977-08-18)
Recorded 1967–1972
Genre Psychedelic rock, country, folk, jam
Length 85:38
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Grateful Dead and Paul L. Wexler
Grateful Dead chronology
Terrapin Station
(1977)
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
(1977)
Shakedown Street
(1978)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau B[2]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars [3]

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is the second compilation album by the Grateful Dead. It was released August 18, 1977 by Warner Bros. Records, three years after the Skeletons from the Closet compilation. Both albums are subtitled "The Best of the Grateful Dead". Unlike the previous compilation, What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is a double album.

Content[edit]

After the Grateful Dead had completed their contract with Warner Bros. and begun self-releasing their recordings, the label released Skeletons from the Closet. The compilation of tracks from their back catalog was successful and when the band moved onto Arista Records in 1977, to record Terrapin Station, Warner Bros. released a second, larger compilation of tracks from the 1967-1972 period.

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is a two-record set, with mostly studio tracks collected on the first disc and all live tracks on the second. Sixteen of the tracks are taken from previously released albums. Two tracks are single versions previously unavailable on album: the studio version of "Dark Star", and its B-side, the single mix of Anthem of the Sun's "Born Cross-Eyed". As the Grateful Dead's most recognizable song, "Truckin'" is the only track used on both compilations. "St. Stephen" appears again, though this time in a live version (an excerpt of the Live/Dead track). Of the nine original Warner Bros. albums, the only one unrepresented is Anthem of the Sun (aside from its associated single).[4]

Release[edit]

The title comes from the chorus of "Truckin'", which ends with the stanza:

Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been.

In an apparent, if ill-considered attempt to attract hard rock/heavy metal fans, the cover art is darkly themed, with red, Old English Gothic script and a black skeleton graphic against a black background. The metallized skeleton (less distinct on some printings) is an air-brushed image by Rick Griffin, who had created several previous album covers for the band. The back cover features the rear view of the skeleton, with the text reversed. The inside of the gatefold features the first appearance of the iconic "dancing skeletons" graphic, rendered in white. Also featured are photographs of the band in concert. However, rather than dating from the Warner Bros. era, they are from October, 1976 (see Dick's Picks Volume 33).

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been was released as a double CD in 1989, after sales of the band's albums had been revitalized by In the Dark. Like its predecessor compilation, it has achieved Platinum sales certification (in 2001).[5]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "New, New Minglewood Blues" (trad.; credited to McGannahan Skjellyfetti) – 2:35
  2. "Cosmic Charlie" (Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter) – 5:31
  3. "Truckin'" (Garcia, Hunter, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir) – 5:06
  4. "Black Peter" (Garcia, Hunter) – 7:31
  5. "Born Cross-Eyed" (single version) (Weir) – 2:58
Side two
  1. "Ripple" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:10
  2. "Doin' That Rag" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:43
  3. "Dark Star" (Garcia, Hunter) – 2:41
  4. "High Time" (Garcia, Hunter) – 5:14
  5. "New Speedway Boogie" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:05
Side three
  1. "St. Stephen" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh) – 5:24
  2. "Jack Straw" (Weir, Hunter) – 4:53
  3. "Me & My Uncle" (John Phillips) – 3:04
  4. "Tennessee Jed" (Garcia, Hunter) – 7:12
    • from Europe '72; live, May 3, 1972, Olympia Theatre, Paris
Side four
  1. "Cumberland Blues" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh) – 5:40
  2. "Playing in the Band" (Weir, Hunter, Mickey Hart) – 4:42
  3. "Brown-Eyed Woman" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:38
  4. "Ramble On Rose" (Garcia, Hunter) – 6:02

Personnel[edit]

Grateful Dead
Technical personnel

Certifications[edit]

Certification Date
Gold[5] August 24, 2001
Platinum[5]

References[edit]