Initially released as a limited-edition box set so lavish it was on the verge of being absurd, 30 Trips Around the Sun is a deep exploration of a simple idea: tell the Grateful Dead's story through unreleased live performances taken from every year of their life. This concept reaches its full fruition in its 80-CD incarnation, containing a full unreleased show for every year between 1966 and 1995, but the four-CD distillation operates in a similar fashion and may seem more attractive to Deadheads unwilling to immerse themselves in a monthlong listening session. The closest analogy to 30 Trips in their discography is 1999's So Many Roads (1965-1995), a five-disc box heavy on unreleased live material, but that set wound up skipping over the fallow periods a chronological march inevitably hits.
The intention of the Universal Music Group compilation series called The Definitive Collection is to occupy the price point in between its more expensive two-CD Gold series and its budget-priced 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series. It is, thus, aimed at the fan who wants a reasonably complete single-disc anthology of a particular artist's hits. In that sense, the Righteous Brothers' edition of the series is a good example. The duo reached Billboard magazine's Hot 100 21 times between 1963 and 1974, and 17 of those chart entries are contained on this album. (The most notable exceptions are the two follow-ups to the novelty comeback hit "Rock and Roll Heaven," "Give It to the People" and "Dream On," which UMG didn't choose to license from EMI.) Also included are a couple of LP tracks and a solo track each by Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. All have been digitally remastered and are in excellent sound.