Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead

2 discs. color & b/w. 242+ min. Amir Bar-Lev, dist. by Rhino Entertainment, www.rhino.com. 2018. DVD UPC 603497860791. $24.98; Blu-ray UPC 603497860784. $27.98. MUSIC
OrangeReviewStarIn this four-hour authorized documentary, director Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story) examines the Grateful Dead from its inception to the drug-induced death of Jerry Garcia in 1995. He begins by explaining the transformation of the Dead from a folk/blues band to the archetypal free-flowing psychedelic rock group. The director documents the signing of the passionately noncommercial Dead to Warner Brothers and their first major tours. After dealing with the death of pianist/harmonica player Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan and the influx of hard drugs during the early Seventies, the film concentrates on the massive Eighties success of the Dead with the Deadhead phenomenon; the last of six segments is devoted to Garcia's passing. Expertly mixing rare concert footage, previously unseen photos, and new interviews by surviving band members, Dead associates, record executives, and Deadheads has produced a compellingly complex film.
VERDICT This tale of the clash between the Dead's communal, carefree ideals and the sobering realities of drugs and international stardom will appeal to music fans and general viewers alike.

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