Grateful Dead's Mars Hotel Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Remastered & Expanded with Demos, Live Sets + More

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2024

50 years ago, the Grateful Dead were cooking with gas. It was spring 1974, the band had successfully emerged from a series of hectic, harrowing times, and would soon follow their transformative Wake Of The Flood with the second acclaimed album release on their very own Grateful Dead Records: From The Mars Hotel. During the mere eight months that had passed between those two beloved LPs, the group also played some of their most exploratory live music and largest venues to date, famously amplified by the homemade, 75-ton Wall of Sound that they debuted on March 23rd, 1974, at their hometown Cow Palace in Daly City, CA. Eternal staples such as "Scarlet Begonias," "Ship Of Fools" and "U.S. Blues" would first be introduced into setlists along that season's tour, before the Grateful Dead spent two months recording and honing them in the studio for From The Mars Hotel. Not to mention perennial classics like "China Doll" and "Loose Lucy," or "Pride of Cucamonga" and "Unbroken Chain" – the final two tracks Phil Lesh would sing on a Grateful Dead studio album. Now, as Grateful Dead members and tributaries continue to celebrate and bring so many of these formative songs to the masses, From The Mars Hotel has been remastered and expanded with newly unearthed material and rarities, in honor of its 50th Anniversary.

Out June 21st via Rhino, six days before the album's original release on June 27, 1974, From The Mars Hotel (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) features remastered audio by GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer David Glasser, with Plangent Processes tape restoration and speed correction. Produced for release by Grateful Dead Legacy Manager and Audio Archivist, David Lemieux, the deluxe edition also includes demos of "China Doll" and "Wave That Flag" – the song that became "U.S. Blues" – as well as a previously unreleased live performance of the Grateful Dead at University of Nevada-Reno on 5/12/1974. As the band filled an outdoor football stadium with epic highs like a huge "China Cat Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider," Mars Hotel cuts including "U.S. Blues" and classics such as "Brown-Eyed Women," "Tennessee Jed," "Mississippi Half-Step," "Truckin'" and "Sugar Magnolia," a massive wind storm was no match for the Wall of Sound. Designed to improve the listening and performance experience at what were becoming larger gigs and longer, more dynamic and varied sets, the Wall of Sound required 21 stage hands, and underlined the resounding effect the Grateful Dead were having on American audiences and culture at the time, even as the entire operation remained homespun and humble.

Pre-order From The Mars Hotel (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) on 3CD and digital formats, and hear "Wave That Flag (Demo)," available on DSPs for the first time today

In addition to the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, From The Mars Hotel (50th Anniversary Remaster) will be released on June 21st as a single 180-gram black vinyl LP, limited edition Neon Pink vinyl, limited edition "Ugly Rumors" custom vinyl exclusive to, and a specially-designed picture disc created in partnership with zoetrope pioneer Drew Tetz. When viewed with a camera or strobe, the zoetrope LP will appear to animate, and can be pre-ordered along with the rest of From The Mars Hotel (50th Anniversary Remaster) variants HERE.

Recorded in San Francisco's Coast Recorders studio, From The Mars Hotel finds Keith Godchaux particularly shining across a variety of keys, from the "China Doll" harpsichord to the pounding piano on Bob Weir's "Money Money," to the churchy organ that elevates "Ship Of Fools." Lyricist Robert Hunter packs "U.S. Blues" with a barrage of imagery, pop-culture references and sardonic asides – as Canadian author Ray Robertson writes in the 50th Anniversary Edition's liner notes, it "carries an undeniable whiff of late-capitalism ennui…it's the most fun you'll ever have dancing to the end of the American Empire." Jerry Garcia's jaunty lead guitar drives bouncing melodies across the LP, while guests include Ned Lagin's unnerving synth effects on "Unbroken Chain," Clover member John McFee's country-rock pedal steel on "Pride Of Cucamonga," and more.

From The Mars Hotel peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1974, contributing to the Grateful Dead's historic achievement last month, when they broke the all-time record for Most Top 40 albums on the Billboard 200.

In tandem with today's announcement, the Good Ol' Grateful Deadcast will premiere its ninth season tomorrow, March 28th. Following 5 million downloads and counting, the official Grateful Dead podcast will now unlock the many secrets of From The Mars Hotel. Along with a track-by-track breakdown of the album, this season will tell the story of the game-changing Wall of Sound, with archival audio of its mastermind – legendary LSD chemist Owsley Stanley – and new interviews with those who made the larger-than-life speaker system a reality.

Listen to Good Ol' Grateful Deadcast's Season 9 Trailer, and subscribe here for new episodes on a weekly basis:

From The Mars Hotel (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) Tracklist

Disc 1

U.S. Blues

China Doll

Unbroken Chain

Loose Lucy

Scarlet Begonias

Pride Of Cucamonga

Money Money

Ship Of Fools

-Bonus Tracks-

China Doll (Demo)

Wave That Flag (Demo)

Disc 2

-Live From The University Of Nevada-Reno, 5/12/74-


Mexicali Blues

Tennessee Jed

Jack Straw

Brown-Eyed Women

Beat It On Down The Line

China Cat Sunflower>

I Know You Rider

El Paso

U.S. Blues

Greatest Story Ever Told

It Must Have Been The Roses

Me And Bobby McGee

Disc 3

-Live From The University Of Nevada-Reno, 5/12/74-


Around And Around

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo


The Other One>

Row Jimmy

Big River

Ship Of Fools

Sugar Magnolia