Curated/Produced by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of Cincinnati indie rock outfit, The National, Day Of The Dead was not only created for The Red Hot Organization to help raise money and awareness to combat HIV/AIDS, it’s also the first Grateful Dead tribute album, out of the dozens that exist, that is really expansive enough to highlight the range and impact of the legendary Bay Area outfit. Spanning over 5 hrs, the compilation consists of 59 tracks and features a wide away of musicians (over 60 of them), including Bill Callahan, Orchestra Baobab, Lee Ranaldo, Kurt Vile & The Violators (featuring J Mascis), ANOHNI, Oneida, Terry Riley, and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks.
In our much more extensive previous piece on the project, we highlighted that variety by including 11 advanced tracks by such artists as Bonnie Prince Billy, Sharon Van Etten, Charles Bradley, Courtney Barnett, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. At the time of its posting, the compilation was only available to order via digital and compact disc platforms, with the promise of the highly anticipated vinyl release coming in the near future. Eventually, an incredibly impressive looking 10LP box set of colored vinyl was made available for pre-order for an unexpectedly reasonable price of $141.74, for something so dense and elaborate. Of course, affordability is subjective and not everybody that would like to own the release is going to be able to thrown down on the full box set. Fortunately, 4AD Records has just announced a limited edition 12-inch for what is, arguably, one of the most ambitious contributions on the album: “Terrapin Station (Suite).” Featuring beautifully intricate cover art created/donated by visual artist/”sculptural painter”, Dustin Yellin, and backed by 3 additional tracks, even in it’s severely reduced form, it’s still an admirable release that consolidates what’s so great about the more extensive version, only at an equally reduced price.
“Terrapin Station” is one of many tracks on Day Of The Dead that feature the Dessners and co-producer, Josh Kaufman appearing as part of “an all-star house band” including “National bandmates and brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf […] and Conrad Doucette along with Sam Cohen and Walter Martin.” Teaming with the ensemble for this particular cut are members of Grizzly Bear (Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear), Sō Percussion, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, complete with a mini orchestra to tackle the suite in its entirety. As I stated in our previous coverage, “those who know, know that this is some sacred territory to try and fuck with, but the success in which they’ve managed to recreate one of the Dead‘s most revered tunes, while breathing some different life into it, is about as respectful and admirable of an attempt as you’re likely to come across, anywhere.”
Backing the 12-inch are covers of “If I Had The World To Give” by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, “Playing In The Band” by Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio) w/ Lee Ranaldo & Friends, and a song called “Garcia Counterpoint” by Bryce Dessner. Unfamiliar with the last title, I looked it up to find the following description posted on Bryce‘s official website back on May 5th of 2015:
“SOLO ELECTRIC GUITAR AND TAPE. 8 MIN.
Commissioned by Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam for Cross-Linx 2015. Supported by the AMMODO Foundation. Inspired by Steve Reich and Jerry Garcia.“
The “Terrapin Station (Suite)” release is slated for August 2nd, but can be pre-ordered through 4AD now, via THIS LINK.
Check out additional album/project details below the following video of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy performing “If I Had The World To Give” live on CBS This Morning.
1: “Terrapin Station (Suite)” — Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and The National (featuring Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, So Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus)
B1: “If I Had the World to Give” — Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
B2: “Playing in the Band” —
B3: “Garcia Counterpoint” — Bryce Dessner
Those lucky enough to make it out to Justin Vernon‘s (Bon Iver, DeYarmond Edison) second annual Eaux Claires Festival (August 12-13) in Wisconsin this summer, will also have the opportunity to catch a Day of the Dead live performance, “featuring Jenny Lewis, Matthew Houck (Phosphorescent), Lucius, Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy), Sam Amidon, Richard Reed Perry, Matt Berninger, Justin Vernon, Bruce Hornsby, Ruban Nielson (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and The National, who all appear on the record.”
Day of the Dead is available for streaming here.