Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Choice, But Not So Choice

I’ll get into this great (as always) post about Bear’s Choice and the deeply self-destructive silliness that was the record business in the 70’s from Corry342 on his excellent blog Hooterollin’ (the Robin to Lost Live Dead’s Batman,) but you should avoid work or school for the next fifteen or twenty minutes and read it.


  1. Eh I like Bear’s Choice, always have. He’s right it’s a hell of a weird thing to release, but look: Dark Hollow and Been All Around this World are perfect, it’s a lovely early Black Peter & I flatly refuse to trust the taste of any Deadhead who doesn’t love a great version of Smokestack Lightning…the Dead are supposed to be long attention span music so just listen…those sneaky peaks shine just like gold

    It makes no sense as a release, sure. It really is in the format of one of those weird early bootleg LPs. But there are great songs on it & that’s all I care about.

    • When Bear’s Choice came out, I was 15 and had not heard a single live Dead tape, although I had seen them twice. I thought the Dead were going to release another version of Live/Dead or Skull And Roses, and I got “Smokestack Lightning.”

      I can appreciate the song now in the context of a 3-hour tape of a complete Fillmore East late show, but 15-year-old-me knew about no such thing at the time. It’s fair to say you don’t trust the taste of 15-year-old-me (I know what records I owned then, not all of them respectable now), but that was then and it’s today. I can appreciate Smokestack now, but it was inexplicably Martian at the time.

      • Oh I read the article and I got where you were coming from – I wouldn’t trust the taste of 15 year old Deadhead me, either, so don’t take it personally. I appreciated the scholarship and context of the article as always…my POV upon first hearing it was formed by the fact that I was raised around acoustic/traditional music & the blues, so when I first heard Bear’s Choice (right around the time I got my first wave of bootlegs, along with the second batch of Dead albums I heard) it was another interesting piece of the puzzle.

  2. I have always loved Bear’s Choice, and even more so the augmented release. Katie Mae is, of course, a revelation. I guess my take on it was shaped by the fact that I had been learning Robert Johnson style bottleneck guitar for a few years by 1973, deeply into the blues at eighteen.

    No discussion of the album is complete without noting that its cover was the first public airing of the skull and lightning bolt logo and also of the dancing bears.

    RIP, Pig. RIP Bear.

  3. My original comment seems to have zoomed into the void. I have always loved Bear’s Choice. Katie Mae alone is worth the price of entry.

    No discussion of Bear’s Choice is complete without noting that the cover features the first public outings of the skull and lightning bolt logo and of the dancing bears.

    RIP Pig. RIP Bear.

  4. Apologies for the near double post. I can blame my stuttering on the somewhat dubious connection speeds available here.

  5. Double posting my comments from the article here.

    In some ways, I’ve always considered Bear’s Choice as a sign that’s someone’s turning into a Deadhead and not just listening to tapes. It’s a sign of someone seeing the Dead as more than just a party band. Of course, us younger Deadheads always looked on it with historical reverence and fascination. I can imagine that if you were expecting a release and got this that expectations would be dashed.

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