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


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rick e.'s picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007

I remember the '88 Hampton shows being real hot .I think the fall tour is underrated probably due to the dud on 9/24.Check out 9/12...The summer tour was nice with not so many stadiums

shwack's picture
Joined: Apr 12 2008

Nice 88 chunks! Those Oxford Speedway shows of July 2,3 1988 you mention above
were a screech! A mellow scene...
See here: if some of you folks are hankering for that China/Rider split(7/29/88)
that D.L.mentions above then DO NOT DELAY! Go back to Taper's week of
July 27-August 2 2009 And open your fly... player.
Past Taper's weeks is an amazing treasure trove of music.I sometimes will call in well at work
and go back in time to this wonderful place Lemieux puts together and pick through it.

Merci Beaucoup Monsieur Lemieux

shwack in nh

Joined: Jul 29 2009
Happy Monday !

Thanks so much for this gem of a Taper's selection(s). I'm thrilled, as were others I see, to have such lengthy sections of these fine performances. Makes this cold snap a bit more tolerable. Have been meaning to log on & offer my tremendous THANKS to you for all of the marvelous audio memories you've presented for my ears' loving pleasure (& probably pleasing to many other senses I'm not even aware of, or recognizing). Many thanks again for this week's excellent musical treat !!

Joined: Sep 4 2007
Monterey 88 , great choice

This run has some exemplary anecdotes that make Grateful D history exciting , years after its demise

When after 1985 ( when M Hart described the Dead as being a touring band stuck in a rut } , it was evident that the band was having a harder time than before hitting the note ; as some say . Or simply giving an acceptable or worth witnessing performance . In the latter years , it seems the band was intelligently advised ; so as to perform really well , surprising the audience with wonderful song picks , revivals , combinations etc . That worked well ,as some of the best shows ( let me reprhase , some of the PRIME stuff } from that period reflect a generous and qualitative execution of music

When , in the late 80s and 90s the band would embark on these 3 night runs ( or the longer ones usually in the east coast for fall tours } . I tend to see a pattern sometimes as the band would rock the house on the third night on many instances and examples , and dissapoint in other instances . Sometimes the third night would be the time or moment to show the audience ' the 1st two nights were hit & miss , now heres the real Grateful D ' .

You also could ask your self , why would this band take so long at some performances to ' hit the note ' . ? Sometimes the band would go onstage quite charged and rock from the first selection on , throughout the entire show ( on many ocassions . (

Sometimes the band would take greater part of the show , to find its ' space ' . Sometimes it would come faster , and leave behind any doubts . Many , of course - in the crowd - would be under the influence of many a party favour , and anything would sound good , right ? right ..

Thanks D for showing us , and highliting an important moment in this band s performing history none other than at this special run in ' 88

How about examining sometime the 2 shows at the Frost Amp in May 1989 ?? Or something from the 90s ? Thanks and have a regenerating 2010 ( and hopefuly an early arrival of spring time]


Joined: Jun 10 2007

this we the time when i was really getting in deep with the dead- and i and thrilled for such huge chunks!

thanks, david!

JCee26's picture
Joined: May 16 2009
Monday AM

Thank you for my Monday morning fix. Helps warm you up. Now back to the music:)

smallz's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
Holy smokes!

What a wonderful plethora awaiting us on this frigid Monday morning! Muchas gracias to David Lemieux for putting it all together for us week after week. I can't wait to do some delving into this jackpot!


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