Think of the Grateful Dead’s Long Strange Trip Original Motion Picture Soundtrack as a 150-minute mixtape than spans 1969 to 1989.
The two-disc set features material from the Dead’s three best-known studio albums, Workingman’s Dead (“Uncle John’s Band”), American Beauty (“Ripple,” “Candyman”), both from 1970, and 1987’s In the Dark (“Touch of Grey”). The famous “Dark Star” from Valentine’s Day 1970 crashes the party, as does the stunning pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain” from the just-released Cornell ‘77 set.
The previously unreleased “China Cat Sunflower”->“I Know You Rider” from June 21, 1971, and the Brent Mydland showcase “Dear Mr. Fantasy”->“Hey Jude” from July 2, 1989, are bait for people who have to have everything that’s officially available. And through the latter is a stellar example of the band’s power when Mydland was driving, these are not enough to merit a purchase.
With only one Pigpen track in the form of the studio version of “Easy Wind” and nothing from the Vince Welnick/Bruce Hornsby era, this soundtrack, unlike the movie it represents, is not career-spanning by any stretch. The music, however, is fantastic, even if the tracklist and sequencing leave something to be desired