February 8 - February 14, 2010
Our first stop this week is at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, where the Grateful Dead were playing their first ever three-night run at the Brendan Byrne Arena. The middle night, 3/31/88, featured a very odd show ending jam, and we're pleased to play it for you here today. The post-Drums sequence of Space>GDTRFB>Miracle>Fantasy>Hey Jude>Watchtower, Knockin' featured a couple of things to note. First of all, check out the gorgeous Space, with Jerry, Phil and Bobby doing all sorts of cool things. The transition into GDTRFB is one of the cleanest I've ever heard, followed by a passionate Miracle into a terrific Dear Mr. Fantasy. At the end of Fantasy, during the Hey Jude coda, Brent and Bobby can be heard doing some outstanding vocal bits. Then one of the strangest bits of late-80s Grateful Dead music arrived: All Along The Watchtower. All I can say is check it out; train wreck narrowly averted, perfectly executed chaos ensues. Also, this encore would end up being the only time the Grateful Dead played two Bob Dylan songs in a row.
Next we have music from the final Grateful Dead show at the Hartford Civic Center on 3/19/90. We have the end of the first set, Picasso Moon, Brown-Eyed Women, All Over Now, Deal. This was the first time I ever saw Picasso Moon live, and although much-maligned, I thought the song kicked butt live, and I was thoroughly impressed hearing it the first time live. A nice, raunchy, rocking end, similar in tone to long-lost closing jams on Passenger. It's a great Deal, too, one of those versions where everyone locks in tightly in the closing jam.
From the same tour, on 3/29/90 at Nassau Coliseum, we have the start of the first set featuring Jack Straw, Bertha, We Can Run, Ramble On Rose, Masterpiece. We've selected this batch of tunes not only because it's really good, but it often gets overlooked due to the presence of Branford Marsalis later in the first set and in the second set.
Finally this week, we have the penultimate (there it is again!) Canadian Grateful Dead concert, held at the current home of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Go Habs!), at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on 3/20/92. I distinctly recall this day being a very cold, crisp, sunny end-of-winter day, and I spent some time in the afternoon visiting the CFL Hall of Fame near the arena. I also remember being in the hotel lobby when the band arrived and checked in, to a huge round of applause by a lobby filled with Dead Heads. From that show, we have Hell In A Bucket, Althea, The Same Thing, Brown-Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues>Maggie's Farm. This latter combination is cool as Mexicali rarely started cold, usually coming out of Mama Tried or Me and My Uncle. These versions of Maggie's Farm with everyone taking a verse were pretty cool, too. Hearing Vince sing his verse in Europe in 1990 was the first time any of us had ever heard Vince's voice on its own.
Be sure to stop by next week when we'll listen to music from 1974 and 1982. Thanks for hanging out, and feel free to send questions or comments to me at the email address below, with the subject “Grateful Dead” to make sure it squeezes through our state-of-the-art spam filters.
This Space into Goin' Down the Road is wild. In addition, the Knockin' on Heaven's Door is a very sweet version of the tune, each to be forever enshrined on the April Fools Road Trips release.
Thanks David for sparking some discussion.. I was busy getting to Cornell for Furthur and missed the greatest debate on Tapers' yet. March 20 & 21, 1992 were my first shows. Had listened to many shows prior and was in for a suite of a treat which still ranks as one of my all-time highs. Why?
The vibe was great inside the arena and out. Home turf, a safe small crowd, and just a great place to open your soul. GDTS were kind to us and I'm sure you'll agree that going to the same venue 2 or more nights in a row is a fine experience. I often wonder if those who liked the 20th more than the 21st were even at the same shows!!? The music just built over the two days, and that's saying something because there were some real peaks on the first night.
The band was recovering from the loss of Brent with the help of Hornsby, who adds so much to these shows. Jerry is reaching into each song for its musical peak. I think he started playing a new genre of music later in his life... ecstatic music. Same experience at the JGB Buffalo Memorial Aud show in '93. Every song is ecstatic with Jerry reaching the highest heights. The Palace at Auburn Hills '94 birthday shows also have some peak moments, such as the Row Jimmy - even with midi - and the Stella. This hasn't been talked about enough - how Garcia's playing in those years could be vital and uncompromising. I still get the chills listening to these shows.
It is clear that the Copps' shows from '90 were musically amazing, but still impressive that they could come back in '92 and hit some peaks. Although I agree with the Althea and Brown-Eyed women, my picks for those 2 nights would have been the Shakedown, Help>Slipknot, Terrapin and Black Peter. So Many Roads is also good.
Thanks again, David!
I went to see the captain, strangest I could find...
Actually I do not consider what I saw in '95 to be the Grateful Dead. Honestly I wish I never went because for a long time that experience depressed me. By '95 the scene (for the most part) was about drugs. It certainly wasn't about the quality of music. Unfortunately I still see a strong element of the zombie culture alive and well at the Furthur shows. I mean if people really loved the music like they say they do, why does the concert experience for some just have to be about how trashed you can get.
It took a while for me to get to this point of thinking, to really intellectualize the music- what I mean by that is to really listen and enjoy it in a responsible state. I believe a reason why it took so long is because of the ridiculous drug stigma that comes with the music. Why can't some people understand that it was the abuse of drugs that brought down the Grateful Dead. I wonder what early fans experienced.... Was there a more intellectual element to the shows? An audience that was really listening- I think so and sometimes I see it on the early DVDs. Can somebody from that era please comment? I would love to hear stories like that!
I listen to some prime '73 and I think many just don't have the patience or the appreciation anymore.... Regardless I poke fun with the band because I think towards the end they lost their musical integrity- I guess drug addiction will do that.
I say '83 because I have noticed in the music I have aquired from eras after that that the band simply couldn't reach that height (even though the height in '83 IMO does not come close to anything up to '74)... I will admit that being in my thirties I have not fully experienced the band live, expecially towards the decline- being spoiled with such great archived releases, all I can judge is from the cream of the crop archive releases from all eras (though much is yet to come I'm sure).
Anyway, it may not sound like it at times, but I truely love the music that the band created and maybe that's why I hold it to such a high standard. This is totally my opinion and to each his or her own indeed- I actually do believe it became a conspiracy of sorts to make money- why else would you let people waste like that? Thank you for the conversation, I'm always learning-
To all who contributed to this thread, even those (perhaps particularly those!) who I disagree with, all have to say is:
Thank you, for a real good time!
Lets see what tomorrow may bring, and remember 40 years ago yesterday.....
I had not really been aware of the impact of addiction on the band (and especially Garcia) from the late 70's onwards until I read Blair Jackson's Garcia biography, which is quite uncompromising on the subject. Of course I don't know if all he writes is true, but it seems quite credible.The book also gives some interesting insights into what was and was not available in Egypt, the effects it might have had and other reasons why those shows were a little disappointing.
Actually I was really saddened by some of Jackson's revelations, I had naively been one of those thinking 'surely not Jerry'.
Its a good book but some folks may not like what they read in the last third. In a way wish I had never read it.
Well its almost time for tapers section to come round again. Wonder what DL will provoke on Monday. Its been a great conversation here...best on this site for a while. Thanks to all.
I disagree with your whole premise here. It is quite cynical, especially coming from somebody who went to shows in 95.
Ever wonder why the Egypt Pyramid shows were so subdued? Egypt has some pretty stiff laws... the "jones" factor was always in play post 75. I think Jerry had everything he needed to play and more than any musician has a right to.
The Grateful Dead evolved into a corporate monster. They didn't start out that way and certainly never aimed to end up blowing away tour records. Rather, this was the good old American entrepreneurial spirit. Sure, the smarter and greedier took it to excess, but when was that never part of such a successful scene?
People age, things change. It never became a grand conspiracy to make money and smother the muse.
Jeez! Lighten up.
I went to see the captain, strangest I could find...
Opinions and Questions to spark the mind....
When was the Good ol' Grateful Dead no longer good? I argue it was after say '83 when the need for a fix overtook the need to seriously explore the Dark Star or anything else that resembled a moving musical piece. For shame that the set list became a medley- did the GD secretly want to play the superbowl halftime show?
Did the showering of drugs upon the scene lead to an inability to keep it together for the sake of creating a sincere mind left body jam (one without a hangover or OD)? Was this someone's sinister plan???
There was a method to the madness... Packing stadiums to efficiently squeeze an area dry of cash became the instrument for defining success- as our represenitive of the 80s Gordon Gecko would say "greed is good".... Did he have touch of grey playing in his limo?
Was there a meeting on how to hide the band's declining health and musicianship? How would those top thinkers disguise the sub par performance of a once consistantly powerful and robust inspiring force? Are they the ones who incorporated Midi into the GD sound for this purpose???
Finally, now that the GD experience has for many zombies out there become backround music to do drugs to; why don't we honor this glorification of control with the award it desrves- a ride at Disney? Free your mind- poor playing is poor playing no matter who is strumming the tune.
Long Live the Dark Star and that Other one....
Copps Coliseum shows in Hamilton, Ont (both yrs) were hometown shows for me. I had been on tour from summer 89 til the first Hamilton show (and yrs after), and it was pretty cool to see the handful of American heads that braved the border crossing. Killer Hey Jude>Fantasy>Hey Jude in '90. Miss Brent.
Come back to Canada boys.
Regardless of how you feel about 3/31/88, I think we can all agree there were 6 different colored pills taken before that show.
As for Hamilton 92, it was damn cold. Pump toothpaste was used in a new way crossing the border for these. I am one of I think two people that thought 3/21 was a better show though.
Thanks for pulling these out David. Always a great listen.
As one poster said: It's not math, its art. There is no right or wrong answer, only subjective tastes about the music. No one has the right to denigrate someone who loves the 90s stuff, but it is equally true that no one has the right to criticize folks who choose not to listen to the later stuff.
The bottom line is that we should all be grateful that the band existed for thirty years and that so much of their music is available. That is a huge amount of music and change and the "tent" is big enough to hold everybody.
Personally, I just like pre-82-83 stuff. I recently listened to the 89 Hampton shows with an open mind. Fine stuff and I certainly appreciate why some Heads rave about the shows. However, I simply did'nt like it as much as others do. No big deal.
I note that when I first started going to shows in 1978, there were many Deadheads who denigrated me when I said how great the shows were. They said the Dead sucked since Pigpen left and I missed all the good stuff. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and I simply chose to ignore them and continued to enjoy the shows. That is why I will never criticize or denigrate anyone for their own tastes. If you like the later stuff, simply ignore the critics and continue to enjoy what you like.
Its all relative. However, there is one thing we can all agree on: "There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Show" regardless of the era.
"That path is for, your steps alone."