Article Contributed by | Published on Friday, June 7, 2024

When Robert Hunter's homespun solo debut Tales Of The Great Rum Runners came out in June 1974, there was no accompanying publicity photograph. On its release, the Oakland Tribune ran a cover story in its weekend magazine along with a line-drawn self-portrait of the musician. "This is likely as close as you'll ever come to seeing Robert Hunter, the Grateful Dead lyricist who’s chosen an incognito life for himself," the caption promised alongside a headline that dubbed him "Rock’s Howard Hughes." - Jesse Jarnow, TALES OF THE GREAT RUM RUNNERS LINER NOTES

The day has come to shed a little more lovelight on the "Invisible Songpoet." Out now, TALES OF THE GREAT RUM RUNNERS (DELUXE EDITION) introduces a freshly remastered version of the original album alongside 16 previously unreleased recordings, including alternate versions of album tracks and several session outtakes. All the music has been remastered from the original master tapes by GRAMMY ®️ Award-winning engineer David Glasser using Plangent Processes tape restoration and speed correction.

Originally released in spring 1974, TALES OF THE GREAT RUM RUNNERS marked the inaugural release on Round Records, an offshoot of the newly formed Grateful Dead Records. Among its 13 tracks were several destined to become staples of Hunter’s live repertoire, like "Boys In The Barroom," "Rum Runners," and "It Must Have Been The Roses."

Recorded at Mickey Hart’s converted barn studio in Novato, California, the album reveals Hunter’s multifaceted talents and features him singing and playing various instruments, including guitar, tin whistle, and bagpipes on "Children’s Lament." He was accompanied by a revolving cast of Bay Area musicians on the album, including Jerry Garcia, Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux, and Mickey Hart of the Dead, as well as guitarist Barry Melton (Country Joe & The Fish), bassist David Freiberg (Quicksilver Messenger Service/Jefferson Starship), and pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage (New Riders Of The Purple Sage).

The TALES OF THE GREAT RUM RUNNERS (DELUXE EDITION) 2CD and 2LP sets comes with 16 previously unreleased bonus tracks, offering new insight into the album’s evolution. Among these are alternate versions of six songs that made the album ("Keys To The Rain" and "It Must Have Been The Roses"), plus ten gems that did not ("The Word," "Buck Dancer's Choice," and "Elijah.")