Grateful Dead

February 25 - March 2, 2008

Tapers Section By David Lemieux

We’re going to do another Taper’s Section this week that focuses on one year in the Grateful Dead’s recorded history, and we felt 1989 would be a good year to look into.

Virtually the entire year was excellent in 1989, and fortunately John Cutler and Le Mobile recording truck was present for a good portion of the shows (starting with June 18 at Shoreline) to record most of the shows in the second half of the year to 24 track analog tape. This, of course, allowed excellent live albums to be produced, such as Without A Net and Nightfall of Diamonds, not to mention to the DVDs Truckin’ Up To Buffalo and Downhill From Here.

Speaking of Downhill From Here, from the middle night of that fine, muddy three night stand at Alpine Valley, on 7/18/89, we have the end of the first set, Memphis Blues, Bird Song>Promised Land. This night is often overshadowed by the previous and following shows, but there was plenty of great stuff played on 7/18 including this nifty trio of tunes.

While we’re checking out the summer of 1989, we have this excellent show-opening combination from 7/10/89 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Feel Like A Stranger>Franklin’s Tower. This show was delayed due to some nasty weather, but once it got rolling, the band delivered a great show. This was one of the final versions of this pairing, for starting on 10/8/89, Franklin’s Tower would be henceforth rejoined exclusively with its original family, Help On The Way>Slipknot! Check out the guitar part Jerry lays down in Stranger; some great moments there.

We’ll now check in with some music from the Spring Tour of 1989, specifically from 4/16/89 at the Mecca in Milwaukee. This pre-Drums sequence of Saint of Circumstance>Truckin’ was a unique one. Saint was rather rare at the time, so it’s understandable that Bobby has a little trouble with the lyrics. This was drawn from the VHS digital master tape.

Jumping forward a few months, we’ll check into the magnificent Fall Tour of 1989. From the third and final night in Philadelphia, 10/20/89, we have the three songs that opened the second set, Hey Pocky Way, Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain. That makes two outstanding Scarlet>Fires played in Philadelphia in 1989, this one following on the heels of the 7/7/89 version played at JFK Stadium.

Finally, from the middle night of the Philly run in October, 10/19/89, we have a few songs from early in the first set, West LA Fadeaway, Victim or the Crime, Built To Last, Blow Away. This tour kept rolling after these shows with two great shows in Charlotte and ending with two nights in Miami, which featured one of the darkest and spaciest of the later-day Dark Stars.

Be sure to stop back next Monday for more great music from the vault. We always encourage you to write the email address below with questions or comments.

David Lemieux
vault [at]


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IntoAshes's picture
Joined: Jun 11 2007
I was at most of these shows!

Man, what a year. My favorite year from the era in which I saw the band. Thanks so much! Think I'll pop on Downhill From Here and relive the magical sensation of waking up in a puddle of water on the campsite!

Oh, and I also second the motion for the Miami show from the fall tour in 89. Easily one of the best Dark Stars of all time: an old-school LSD meltdown painted with a MIDI brush. An amazing year for the band...

josh e bear's picture
Joined: Feb 29 2008


thanks for all the Links to such great Music,, i especailly dig all the late 70's and late 80's Era. ( 89 !!! ) I am hoping to hear more from the Early 80s (80-83) and Early 90's ( 90 & 91 w/ Bruce Hornsby as Guest ) ,,, all those shows rip !!!!

I would lov if you could post a week of Rarely played Tunes, such as :

Maggies farm , The Weight, Baba O' Riely , Wave to the Wind, Unbroken Chain, etc, etc

That would be a Treat !!! ok,, thanks David ,,, Happy Leap Day ~!~

Josh E Bear !!

Joined: Sep 4 2007
long distance runner ..


I definitely agree w you . There are time frames , tours and elements that make the dead s performances ' very ' special regardless of the playing performance .

For example , this weeks batch from Philly 89 has a Hey pocky way , scarlet - FOTM . Hey pocky way takes some time to take off , and doesnt really get too far or high , as far as the song is . But , at the show - being there - things may be different . Before the Dead , i never [ i think ] payed so much attention at recordings of shows listening to them at home - commercial release or not - and the way bands play live . Usually id be dancing up a storm at the Dead show ; i was 19 & 20 when i saw them . So , noticing wether Phil , or Bobby played the music correctly wasn t a big worry or issue .

If one talks to people who are Music majors at college , or audit a clas or two . Or know someone who has or does study the subject - you learn what music is and how a successful tune is made .

As far as the GD is , their music is in universe of its own and is very ' strong ' . Its heaping w energy , and sometimes overpowers the music theories and theory of how music should be played .

Joined: Jun 7 2007
JFK 7-7-89

I gotta say, the Scarlet/Fire from 7/7/89 blows this away. Jerry misses one verse the whole Fire (rare on it's own) but there are blistering jams between the verses. The Scarlet is phenomonal, great jam and vocals that are right on. "Heart of gold bannnnnnnnnnnDDDDDD".
And I haven't even got into the segue jam, which is unlike anything I have ever heard in a Scarlet/Fire. Find it, love it, and then listen to the rest of the show.

estimatedprofits's picture
Joined: Sep 18 2007
Miami Dark Star

I would LOVE to hear that Miami Dark Star. I am more than intrigued.............

Joined: Jul 29 2007
Good Old 1989

I agree with Jamie's comments about 10/9/89. Where is that show in history. There is so much to draw from there. The opening of the second set with Playing>Uncle John's>Playing>Dark Star (first Dark Star since '84). Also there is a fantastic post drums Death Don't Have followed by Mr. Fantasy>Hey Jude. Wrap this night up with the the first Attics since '72 for an encore and you have magic my friends!!

Joined: Nov 21 2007
philly ...i was there

Hey i was at those philly shows ,,.. Shame i can`t listen to this ...... at least i got one of those shows on tape ,, i just need to find it ,,... 89 was a great year for the Dead !! smokin Philly and pittsburg shows ,...

Meeko's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
No link

on 7/18/89, we have the end of the first set, Memphis Blues, Bird Song>Promised Land.

There is no link to these tunes.

But thanks for all you do each week!!


Joined: Feb 27 2008
1989 Pittsburgh First Night

I see that you don't have the first night (4/2/89) in Pittsburgh listed. That was a smoking show, especially since I was sitting in the first row. Wow both sets were awesome, would love to hear a good recording of We Can Run, and Brent singing in Hey Jude.

The Shakedown to open the second set was also stellar. If you ever have a chance to listen to this show please do, it will leave a smile on your face

BEGGERSPAY's picture
Joined: Nov 14 2007


When you are done with your current programming here is an idea that I have not seen to date.

Guest artists joining in for a few songs. Duane Allman, Ornette Coleman, Edie Brickell, Steven Stills, Billy Cobham,

Especially the Ornette Coleman appearance, if you were there Bobby was pushing Ornette to go higher and higher with signals from his guitar's neck and jerking of his head. Ornette was giving everything he had to keep up with Jerry and Bobby's excitement to have him there.

You have made Monday a day to look forward to......Best regards


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