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Ray Robertson

All the Years Combine

Published by Bilbioasis

Nov 07, 2023 Bookmark and Share

For all the talk about The Grateful Dead being primarily a band you need to hear live, and for the seemingly hundreds of official concert recordings and many more unofficial ones available, the fact that there has not been a truly great book chronicling the the band’s live shows is surprising. That is until now of course.

Ray Robertson’s All the Years Combine tells the story of 50 of some of the best Grateful Dead concerts, chronicled in order from 1966 to 1995. But Robertson’s book is really more than just that. Deftly, he manages to tell the history of The Grateful Dead through these 50 shows. Each show’s description begins with the band’s set list from that night and then delves into the music. Ostensibly, the book describes the music of these 50 shows—the highs, and by the mid-80s and beyond also the lows—but someone Robertson’s prose manages to weave a narrative. That narrative, one that’s been told in numerous tales and tomes already, is presented here in utterly unique and spellbinding fashion.

Perhaps astonishingly, even by the 50th show presented, Robertson’s conceit never gets old. Sure, at 233 pages, the book is no detailed, nitpicky monstrosity, but that would be tedious and unnecessary. Instead, All the Years Combine is engaging and enjoyable front to back. And for the Grateful Dead live neophyte (and with so many concerts available on any of numerous platforms who among us isn’t?), the book provides a roadmap, a guide, a place to start and finish and explore the music while you read. And for these reasons, All the Years Combine, much like the music it heralds, transcends. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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