O.k. you encouraged me to write so I'll give this a shot. This is pretty new to me. I have been lurking on this board for years and have loved it and supported it but haven't posted much until recently. There has been so much written about the Grateful Dead that it's intimidating to write more. The reason I thought a thread on this board would be so interesting is that it is not comprised of just hard core Grateful Dead fans. Most everything is written for the hard core fan and it's refreshing to get another viewpoint. The problem is that this thread is going to be so long I don't know if only the hard core will read this far. We'll see though, music junkies will read just about anything about music. Everyone here is a stone cold music junkie like myself which is why I enjoy it. There are an amazing amount of Beatles fans and fans of all types of music. The Grateful Dead were a band full of music junkies. All of them with the widest variety of musical interests and influences. Once your familiar with their music any kind of music that you like is in there somewhere. Now, on to Anthem Of The Sun and this period of the band. Anthem is their psychedelic studio masterpiece. Even though it has live music on it I think of it this way. Everyone has their preferences as to what they like. Some people do not like live albums. I absolutely love live albums. If you love live albums, are a music junkie with big ears you are just plain cheating yourself if you don't put the listening time in and check out this band. If you're the type that likes studio albums and you like psychedelic or experimental music you should check out Anthem. Like all of this type of music you have to listen to it more than once. All you Beatles fans who love the White Album. Or say Love-Forever changes or Electric Ladyland or Early Pink floyd. This could be a hidden gem that you haven't discovered yet. As for the four live releases detailed above they are quite different. I think even more so than at times later in their career you have to be a live music junkie for this stuff. It is the band's first in a series of many live peaks. It's hard to fault any live Dead from 1968-1974. It's like a mountain range full of peaks. 1968 is a different animal than the other peaks. Some refer to it as 'Primal Dead'. It's like the difference between drinking a beer or drinking Everclear grain alcohol (I think 190 proof?). Or if you've experimented a bit one of those funny cigarets or a tab of acid. This music is seriously potent stuff. I think the most easily digested one would be Two From The Vault. You could even argue this is easier on the ears than Anthem actually. Dp 22 Kings Bowl and the Road Trips are ferocious, hardcore jamming Dead at it's finest. The Road Trips is by all accounts one of the best releases and a great buy. If you pick up DP 22 you will just not believe that this music was played in a bowling alley. It sounds like it would be too intense for the Fillmore! If you could picture say Jimi Hendrix doing an Electric Ladyland tour. He was such an amazing musician that this psychedelic masterpiece would just open up into a thousand different directions. This is what this era of live Dead sounds like. Anthem of the Sun and their earlier stuff jammed out and opened up. We'll get to it but 1969 is similar but that raw, primal sound really is 1968. Come on, give this stuff a try. You know you want to. Warning however! There is no cure once you get started.