The String Cheese Incident was on a big upswing in 2000, as the Colorado-based band moved up the ladder from clubs to theaters. SCI’s first release in their new Rhythm of the Road archival series features a fantastic show from ’00 that’s heavy on both jamming and bluegrass and light on the electronic elements that would seep into their music a few short years later. Highlights include a rambunctious Black Clouds and unique takes on Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On and the Talking Heads’ This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) as well as sit-ins from banjo legend Tony Furtado throughout.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Barstool on HT
Nothing shows off the bluesy side of The Doors’ sound better than the band’s most recent archival release featuring an unreleased 1970 show from Vancouver. Blues legend Albert King opened for the group and later sat in with them on four standards. Morrison et al were in fine form and jammed the living hell out of a number of their originals.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Amazon.com
The last few live archival release from the Zappa Family Trust have been superb and the latest release, Hammerstein Odeon, continues that trend. This 3-CD set was recorded in London back in 1978 and features many of the songs found on 1979′s Sheik Yerbouti LP. Highlights include an interesting take on Peaches En Regalia, the classic Camarillo Brillo -> Muffin Man sequence and a transcendent Zappa solo on Black Napkins.
Where You Can Sample This Release: N/A
This year’s Jerry Garcia archival release featured the short-lived, but most-excellent Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. Not only did Jer’s family put out a remastered version of 1988′s Almost Acoustic, but they also released a fine album of unreleased live material called Ragged But Right which contained the other 14 songs in the JGAB’s repertoire lovingly assembled by band member Sandy Rothman.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Dead.net Listening Party
There wasn’t much in the way of audio-only archival releases from Phish in 2010, but the group did put out the magnificent Fall Tour ’92 opener from St. Mike’s to help raise money for Haitian Earthquake Victims. This performance featured the first-ever versions of Axilla, I Walk The Line (Johnny Cash cover), Big Ball Jam, Fast Enough For You and Lengthwise. Longtime Phish friend Gordon Stone joined the band on pedal steel for Poor Heart, Fast Enough For You and Llama and the release also includes fantastic versions of Divided Sky and Mike’s Song.
Where You Can Sample This Release: LivePhish.com
Gov’t Mule was on a tear as they pulled into Atlanta to celebrate the start of the new millennium on December 31, 1999. Mulennium, the band’s first archival release, features every note played at that special performance which included special guests Little Milton, Audley Freed, Robert Kearns, Johnny Mosier, Mark Van Allen and Barry Richman. Whether the Mule was slaying first-time performed covers, classic originals or backing Little Milton; you get a feel for why the trio version of the band was such a force to be reckoned with.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Relix Artist Exclusive
The fifth multi-track release from the Widespread Panic Archives could be the best as the band finally put out a crispy version of the epic November 20, 2001 show from Johnson City, TN. Not only is each set packed to the brim with highlights, but the sound on this release is impeccable. Mike Houser’s guitar playing is featured throughout along with his understated vocals on songs such as Airplane and The Waker.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Archive Blog
In 1969, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett headed out for a weeklong tour of England backed by a incredibly talented band and impressed the likes of Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Dave Mason enough that they joined the ensemble on the road. The shows were recorded and released on the pair’s best-selling album, On Tour with Eric Clapton, in 1970 and this year we get to hear so much more of those recordings through this “deluxe” box set. Everything about this release is deluxe from the roadcase-like packaging to the four discs filled with 52 tracks to of course the performances themselves from this severely underrated unit.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Rhino.com
For the latest installment of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series, Sony combed the vaults and came up with 47 songs performed by Dylan with only his acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasionally piano recorded between 1962 and 1964 for his music publishers. This 2-CD set sounds fantastic and contains a number of Dylan originals that have never been officially released before and features wonderful, warm, early versions of tunes that would go on to be among Zimmy’s best. Sony’s fine packaging – liner notes by historian Colin Escott and rare photos of Bob from this era – add to what I feel is the best archival release of 2010.
Where You Can Sample This Release: Mojo4Music.com
Honorable Mention: Widespread Panic – Live in Classic City II, Warren Haynes Presents – Christmas Jam Volume 3, Grateful Dead – Road Trips, Vol. 3 No. 4, Widespread Panic – Porch Songs 10/31/96 and Dave Matthews Band – Live Trax 06/04/1996