Grateful Dead

January 11 - January 17, 2010

Tapers Section By David Lemieux

Greetings, and welcome back to the Tapers' Section. We figured that with winter at its worst in many parts of the world, we'd check in on some music from late July in California, specifically at Laguna Seca, near beautiful Monterey, CA, in 1988.

The 1988 version of the Grateful Dead is a tough one to classify. It certainly wasn't a bad year for the band, but it was sandwiched between two very important GD years, the triumphant comeback of 1987, and the perfection that defined much of 1989. It reminds me a bit of 1978 GD, in that 1978 was also sandwiched between two distinct years of Grateful Dead music with clear identities, the masterful 1977 Grateful Dead, and the rebirth of the band owing largely to the addition of Brent in early 1979. Regardless, 1988 (just like 1978) had some excellent music, perhaps not as consistently great as the previous and following years (just like 1978), but some very solid material. To demonstrate this, we've decided to play the first sets of three nights at Laguna Seca. These shows came on the heals of a short eastern tour that featured such shows as four nights at Alpine, the first Buckeye stop, the final SPAC show, and the two nights at Oxford Speedway in Maine, as well as the penultimate run of shows at the Greek in Berkeley.

The first night, 7/29/88, featured a very unique second set opening sequence of China Cat>Crazy Fingers>Rider, as well as a complete Playing In the Band, very rare by 1988. But, as this is a trip through the first sets, today we have for you Iko Iko, Walkin' Blues, Candyman, Queen Jane Approximately, Althea, Blow Away, Cassidy>Deal. This is likely the least adventurous first set of the three nights, but it is played very well, and includes a very early Blow Away, which was debuted about six weeks before this at Alpine in June.

Next up, from the middle show on 7/30/88, is the first set consisting of Let The Good Times Roll, Feel Like A Stranger, Loser, New Minglewood Blues, Row Jimmy, Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, When Push Comes To Shove, The Music Never Stopped. Another great set of music, with a meaty Stranger and a rocking Music Never Stopped. Bobby was embracing his inner rock star more and more as the 1980s moved onward, and songs like Memphis Blues allowed him to shine.

Finally, the last night at Laguna Seca on 7/31/88 featured what is likely the best first set of the run, made up of Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Little Red Rooster, West L.A. Fadeaway, Me And My Uncle > Big River, Ramble On Rose, Gentlemen Start Your Engines, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Bird Song. Rooster and West LA feature David Hidalgo from Los Lobos (who opened the shows along with David Lindley and El Rayo X) on guitar, and this could be one of my favourite special guest appearances with the Grateful Dead. He brings things up to such a high level, which certainly isn't always the case, as the band would often keep things safe when special guests would sit in, so as not to spook their friends. Also worth noting, for good or ill, is that this is the final live performance of Brent's Gentlemen Start Your Engines. Jerry has some fun with the raunchiness of this song, and Bob's doing some interesting stuff, but it never had a chance to develop beyond this version and the one in Pittsburgh in June, 1988.

So, there you have it, three-plus hours of Grateful Dead for the price of, well, nothing. We hope you've enjoyed this trip through 1988's first set material. Thanks for stopping in, and we'll see you next week for more great Grateful Dead music.

David Lemieux
vault@dead.net

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Joined: Aug 31 2009
stoltzfus

i used to feel that way about the dead too, being a real stickler for 66-71 myself. something changed though as i became addicted to this weekly installment, and taking suggestions from folks' comments on shows to hear in the archive.

the thing about my experience w/ the Dead, is that i literally became a head the day Jerry died. CNN played what must have been about 10 seconds of something that blew my 15yr old mind wide open. 15yrs later, i believe that clip might have been from a '74 Playin... but anyway, not having any show experiences, i got to pick from the whole lot of their history and proceeded to pick and choose to enjoy only their very early years. Even 77-79 was boring to me despite being an era of perfection so many tout it to be. 80's and later was just out of the question for my younger ears.

i don't have any suggestions or advice for you, but wonder if my short story resonates at all with you, such that you might develop a new ear for later material. i do feel like i'm listening for completely different characteristics, during their later years, when evaluating and deriving pleasure during playback. -but i still have no fancy for Wier's Rooster, Walking Blues, and a few other standard blues tunes of his just that bore the hey hey out of me. But Wier also gave birth to most of my favorite pieces.. gotta love the richly mixed bag!!

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Joined: Jan 13 2010
1965 GD is also welcome...

1965 GD is also welcome...

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Joined: Jan 13 2010
Sorry, but this is

Sorry, but this is snoozeville GD. GD'88? RUKidding? 66-79, YEAH; 80-86 tolerable; but 87-95 tends to make my eyes roll. tinny sound, annoying vocals, and no "HOW DO THEY DO THAT"? I gotta find something else.

1/20/79; 1/10/79; 1/11/78; 1/22/78; 1/24/71...

another picky Deadhead.

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Joined: Dec 5 2007
What a long strnge trip it's been!

Thanks David for the music.
I can't believe it's been over 20 years. I was at all three shows. Great camping scene. Yes this was the place where the touch of grey video was filmed but in 1987. I was there too. This was at the peak of The experience for me. I was living in the bay area and going to shows all the time. The greek, frost,kaiser etc..
We showed up, late on friday night and was shown to our camping spot by Dead family. The year before I stayed in Monterey but it took us 2+ hours to get out I decided to camp in 88. Good choice as it was GD camp for 3 nights/days.I loved 1988 and saw some of my favorite shows that year. One of my memories was of sitting on the hill at the back of the scene eating fresh seafood from one of the many local food kiosks watching Jerry jam with los lobos. It was about 5 or 6 in the afternoon and the sun was comming down drinking beers and munching on calamari the memory is so vivid.
Thanks again for the music and the great job you are doing with the vault.

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Joined: Aug 31 2009
the music never started..?

thank you David!! great material, big chunks of audio, and a wonderfully focused look at a spectacular 3-day run!

as others have mentioned.. there's a cut in 7/30... and i'm really jones-ing for The Music Never Stopped. ooh ooh, please fix if possible? kinda want to hold off on 7/31 until then..

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Joined: Nov 21 2009
Wow!

Oh this is just amazing! I got on the bus in 88, have never gotten off yet, so this just hits the spot! These shows were fantastic, and I am pleased as punch to be able to have so much to listen to! Three hours? You have outdone yourself this week. Many thanks for bringing these sets out for us to hear. Take Care.

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Joined: Jun 4 2007
7-30

I find the same cut after a little bit of Push.

lethedoom

wilfredtjones's picture
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Joined: Jun 4 2007
7-30

Hey Now: I jumped right to the 7-30 'cause I'd never heard it before. It cuts after Memphis Blues, clipping the beginning of Push. Am I missing something or what?

unkle sam's picture
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Joined: Oct 3 2008
second sets

This is awesome, maybe next week we could get all three second sets? Keep up the great work.

madrone's picture
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Joined: Dec 31 2009
Laguna Seca

These were great times and some of my first shows. Great choices! The final night was cloudy in the afternoon but the clouds broke and everyone danced on the dusty mountainside. After the show the dead with their skeleton counterparts filmed some touch of grey video footage. Los Lobos and Lindley were a big treat also. Thanx to my freinds in Santa Cruz for the floor to crash and the vitamin B which i needed after that show. peace and love, madrone out.

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