Grateful Dead

February 8 - February 14, 2010

Tapers Section By David LemieuxGreetings, and welcome back to the Tapers' Section, where this week we'll be playing music from 1988, 1990 and 1992.

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.

David Lemieux


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Joined: Jan 13 2010
Zappaphiles will recognize...

Shall we take ourselves seriously?


and then once again take themselves seriously.


unkle sam's picture
Joined: Oct 3 2008
who, when, where, why?

I feel for anyone who hasn't listened to dead music after the 70's. I have seen the dead in 3 of their 4 decades, 70's, 80's, and 90's and it's all good. I was just a kid in 65, but grew up in the 60's and became aware of the great sounds rock and roll had to offer in 66, it was new, fresh, bouncy, big, beautiful, did I say new? Listening to it from a transistor radio I kept under my pillow at night so I could hear it all, knowing that any minute, parents (especially dad) would come in and take it away and chastise me for listening to "devil music". Alot of those tunes that I loved in those days have gone the wayside, seeming now almost "old and tired", I don't ever feel that way about the Dead, no matter what year, show, venue it is. I first saw the dead in 77, not knowing much about the dead, we went to see the "show" the twirlers, the hippies, the heads, the "scene", so to speak, not so much the band, or to listen to the music. It was over as fast as it started and I "didn't get it", just a great place to go to see a lot of freaks and get some really good LSD.
Fast forward to l980, went to a show, had a grate experience and finally "I get it" with a feeling of joy so undescribable that, well, it can't be described.
Then it became, when, where are they comming again? Will I have to travel far? Will there be good drugs, never did I think, will I have a good time? Will the music be good? Will the scene be there? It always was. Never did I go to a show, except the 95 tour, that the music wasn't genuine, real, fantastic, gritty, new, wonderful, beautiful, (add more if you like), and even in 95, there was still new tunes, new ways that they were being played, just not what I was used to hearing, but still, dead music. Still the best damn music in the world.
In my opinion, I think not listening to dead music after 77 is a great loss to anybody who is stuck in the 70's. Yes, I listen to a lot of 70's and 60's dead now, due to the availability of them on the web, which I didn't have growing up listening to them. Perhaps if the availability had been there years ago, I would feel and think differently, but it wasn't. I believe that the grateful dead had good years/shows and bad years/shows, doesn't matter who was sitting at the keyboard seat, and in the seventies we had to listen to Donna scream too, but, the music was still new, done at the moment, made up, if you will, right there for us, and this kind of experiemental transendental experience is why I became a deadhead.
So to make a long strange story short (ha), it's all good, any year, do yourself a favor, grab an 80's or 90's show and try and listen to it with an open mind, I think anyone will be happy with what they hear.
and if your mind is closed, try some lsd, any year, show is great listening to it from that perspective.

once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

Joined: Nov 21 2009
The whole run.

I never saw the Dead in the 70's. My first show was in 89. I think it important to remember that the Dead changed over the years. This may appear obvious, but when I hear that one year is better then another, I always try to think instead that one year is different then another. The beautiful fact of being on the bus in 2010 is that 30 plus years of music is at our fingertips. If you get tired of the sloppy playing from 90, zoom back to 89. If you get sick of 89, zoom back to 77. We are all so lucky to be able to listen to so much of this wonderful trip in all of its glory. Warts and all. So yeah, there is much sloppy material from the 90's. But there is also material from this time period that will leave you grinning all the way into next week, the sky parts, the moon does a back flip, and away we all go on that crazy ride that only Jerry and rest of the guys could take us on. So it is a fantastic time to listen to the Dead, and I just thank the Gods above that the music is available for all. This music changed our life people, I for one will never forget this, sloppy playing or not. Peace out to all of you, and may the four winds blow all of us safely home.

michihippie's picture
Joined: Jan 6 2009

the worst dead show i saw is better than no Grateful Dead @ all my only regret > ididnt go more 15 yrs ;(

Canyon Critter's picture
Joined: Oct 20 2008
The well balanced Great Debate

First of all, I have a this not the first time David has played the 90's in the Taper's Section???

If my memory serves me right I think it is, and I was waiting for this debate between all the Deadheads. It doesn't surprise me how intellectual all you people are.

For one to say that anything post _insert era, year_ is worthless makes me cringe, simply because I hear both good and bad in almost all the music. Every single member of this band, spanning all the years, had something to give to our ears and hearts. That being said, here's my 1 cent.

I agree with Bayedog that most of it has to do with our own individual exposure to the band like when, where, who, how, and why. I mean someone who was exposed to the band/culture in the 60's and or 70's has a completely different view as someone who got on the bus in the 80's and or 90's. It's inevitable. Personally, I got on the bus very late in relation to the span of the bands whole career. Heck, I wasn't even born till the band had been playing for 9 years. The wonderful part about it is that by tape, cd, and now the internet I've listened to every era, every year.

I have personal attachment to the shows I attended, certain songs, and memories from what I physically experienced, regardless of the musical quality of what was played. The same holds true for when I first heard Lovelight with Pigpen, or Blow Away from Brent...I wasn't physically there, but I remember the exact moment. The pain I feel when I hear Jerry struggling to even stand up during the final tour, when I saw it live or just listening to the audio, runs very deep. At the same time, after I was able to cope with the pain, I hear powerful songs/soul from that exact tour.

My point being, I honestly cannot say what year/era was the "best" because to be honest my favorites change from week to week and day to day. As a musician, there were certain times when each aspect of the band peaked, from guitar solos, to drums, to vocals, to Phil bombs, to sweet keys, sometimes all together as one and sometimes individually. That's the wonderful thing about The Grateful Dead...It's Dynamic in every single way!

Thanks David for all the hard work you do to bring us this unique entity, we call "The Good Ole Grateful Dead", each week!

Will you come with me? Once in awhile you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right!

Joined: Aug 31 2009
the drug effect

i'll admit, i puff constantly and listen to the dead nearly exclusively. so i'm interested in this element beyond the superficial perception that if i stop puffing, and listen to other music, i might sing a different tune.
what is it that they do that resonates so much to a stoned mind? I've never seen a show, so all my experience is from the boards and tapers, so i don't have that place-in-time life experience as many of you. so for me, there is something coming across that just doesn't translate in the majority of all other music. i also was heavily into the Velvet Underground prior to being turned on to the Dead, and their approach carries very much the same element i speak of... sometimes, i like the shitty stuff.. yeah it got downright bad sometimes. It's that the music is just so very real, and i don't have another word for it other than that very played out LSD hippy notion. it's like the music itself is a guy living life, having his own ups and downs. at time filled with genuine ecstasy, and other times reliving the same disingenuous day as before seemingly empty inside. and i can always relate to whatever kind of 'day' the music is having, because i go through that stuff too.
maybe the stoned mind just doesn't fabricate the multiple layers of perception that a sober mind can readily draw from. rather, the experience just plays itself out simplifying perception into one basic experience lens (not that the stoned mind can't have complicated intricate thoughts). but dang! this music really sings when in that state...
i hope i have maintained some relevancy to the discussion. i just wanted to address the perspective of the deadhead as mentioned by grateful prof. some later material that makes some here cringe, is the same material that brings me closer to the band.. at least in my own imagination. but boy do i get thrills from any stellar 74 Eyes!!!

Joined: Jun 5 2007
WOW the Grate Debate

I didnt realize what a chain of comments my simple statement would involve to, being said thats what I love about Dead Heads, very intelligent diverse opions.

I was shocked to see more comments on my statement then the music, which I had to keep reading. And the one that sood out the most & also rang sooo true to me & I forgot to mention .
Was that by th time the "Touch of Grey" period came the whole Dead seen changed, way toooo many "new" fans who didnt know "Dead" protocol to say & the whole beautiful parking lot party's would never , ever be the was alsways toooooooo many fans & not enough tickets from then on out & also the violence ruined the whole "Dead" experiance.

shwack's picture
Joined: Apr 12 2008

A bloom of words in this forum -the likes of which we have not seen for months! Terrific!
For me, it is like wine.Purely subjective.It is about what you like.If one follows
the advice in the wine trades worshiping the 100 point system(which has merit in
some circles)then many perfectly fine wines will be overlooked.Some herein have
plainly stated that '74 is a great vintage.While others have called the mid-90's
vintages as hit or miss. That's ok.
One goes to the show and takes what they want or need from the experience,yes?
Frankly,I have tended toward the gutsy,peasanty,yet balanced and tasty wines.
Hearty,robust and quaffable.sometimes my thirst for this experience is urgent.
Merci Beaucoup Monsieur Lemieux

shwack in nh

lamagonzo (not verified)
The infinite varieties of Deadhead experience...

This discussion is quite good and one worth exploring. I agree that rating performances is based on subjectivity. Acclaim for technical proficiency comes from other professional musicians. The Dead made the R&R Hall while still touring and that, certainly, is a greatr tribute. Harder to guage is the release of an all covers CD by other artists of very wide variety of musical styles. That could have been more a tribute to Jerry & Hunter's writing skills and the buying power of deadheads.

I have found with the advent of archive and other sites that have massive content from all time, in the last 5 years I have been able to make comparisons according to my own taste. I say taste because after this many years (I stopped touring in 93) it is no longer a matter of drugs or girl frinds or venues. It has to do with how the music makes me feel.

Having said that, it seems like pinnacle years were 71,72,73,77. Next rank includes 70-76,
After that, al I can say is there were days, and there were days, and there were days between.
Which isn't to say that there wern't times when the needle spiked and pegged for a whole set and, more rarely, for a whole night. But then there were also whole tours when the Spike rared it's ugly head unenduringly and found it's unholy mark. You had to go to a lot of shows in a year to hit those peak moments 78-95, imho

~ Motorcycle mama won't you lay your big spike down? ~

Joined: Jun 26 2007
Diminishing marginal utility

I would agree that 1970-1974 overall probably does stand a bit above the other eras of the Grateful Dead, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it towers above the 89-90 era the way Mount Everest towers above the Himalayan foothills. It's probably more like a sand dune at Kitty Hawk. Many times I've read glowing reviews of 70's shows only to order the CD and cringe during a 1/4 the show. The blended vocals were brutal and although Jerry's voice was clear often his guitar solos were high pitched and tinty. Then there's Donna....

In the 90's I often find the opposite. Jerry's voice will often sound like he swallowed an ashtray full of ashes but then his guitar solos with massage my eardrums and bring a smile to my face. IMO the ballads were peformed much better in the later years and since they had such a deep well to draw from then it had the potential to make each show a unique revelatory experience.

Also Bob Weirs singing is superb in the 89- and on era. Sure it was standard for hippie men to diss on Bob, but in my mind the reason for that is the fact deep down they all know that Bob could steal their woman from them at will.

For me there are bits and pieces and wrinkles and creases from all eras that are just as worthy of adulation as any other. My theory is people's favorite eras usually coincide with the point in their life where they were consuming the most hallucinogens. And as the effects of those were off and people move on to real jobs they often find they don't like the band so much. And of course the band has changed so have you but they still continued to play like men to a whole new generation. "Every thing passes every thing changes so just do what you think you should do (Dylan)"


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.