The 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Bob Weir’s Ace pairs a remastered new mix of his solo debut album with a new live version recorded earlier this year at Radio City Music Hall, with Bob Weir & The Wolf Bros featuring The Wolfpack and special guests Tyler Childers and Brittney Spencer.
Bob Weir celebrated the 50th anniversary of his solo debut Ace on stage in April of 2022 with two special shows at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. On both nights, he performed the entire album live with his group Bob Weir & Wolf Bros, featuring The Wolfpack, a string and brass quintet, pedal steel player Barry Sless, and special guests Tyler Childers and Brittney Spencer. One of those performances is included in this special edition of Ace that also includes a remastered new mix of the original album.
A live performance of “Black-Throated Wind” from Radio City Music Hall was available early – for one day only – as part of a benefit compilation that raised funds to provide access to abortion care and support independent abortion clinics in America. Weir joined with other artists donating previously unreleased recordings for the compilation, which was organized by Good Music and Noise For Now. Net proceeds go to Brigid Alliance, a referral-based service that provides travel, food, lodging, childcare and other logistical support for people seeking abortions; and Noise For Now, working with Abortion Care Network to support independent abortion clinics.
When Weir started working on Ace at Wally Heider’s Studio in San Francisco in early 1972, he wasn’t planning for the Grateful Dead to be his backing band. It just happened. “I pretty much knew in the back of my mind what would happen,” Weir told Crawdaddy a few months after the sessions. “I go and get the time booked and start putting the material together. Everybody gets wind of the fact I got the time booked, and I may be going into the studio. So, one by one, they start coming around…”
It made sense, the band was already familiar with most of the music, having road-tested six of the album’s eight songs, including “Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Mexicali Blues,” and “Playing In The Band,” destined to become one of Weir’s signature tunes. Ace also marked the beginning of Weir’s long-running collaboration with lyricist John Perry Barlow and includes early standouts “Cassidy” and “Looks Like Rain.”
The liner notes that accompany the new anniversary edition were written by Jesse Jarnow, co-host of The Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast and author of Heads: A Biography Of Psychedelic America. He writes about Weir realizing his 50-year dream of touring with strings and horns in 2021 when the Wolfpack joined him and the Wolf Bros on the road.
Jarnow writes: “By the time they played a pair of nights at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in April 2022 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ace, Bob Weir & Wolf Bros featuring The Wolfpack had found their flow at the thrilling, porous border of improvisation and arrangement. In the eternal present tense of the Grateful Dead’s music, none of the songs had stopped evolving in the previous 50 years… At Radio City, everything was heard in its newest (and perhaps already outdated) incarnations, the evolutions acting as a progress report on the ensuing half-century of Weir’s life, musical and otherwise.”
The Ace 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is available as a double-CD and from digital and streaming services, not to mention custom “High Roller” Pearl White vinyl exclusively from Dead.net with a standard black vinyl version coming on February 3. The original album was remixed by Derek Featherstone and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer David Glasser and produced for release by Bob “Ace” Weir with Featherstone.