On Vacation 

stealie I’m on vacation this week but that doesn’t mean we can’t link to some shows.  I’ll try to update this post over the next couple of days.

July 27th, 1973 – Watkins Glen Soundcheck One of the all time great jams (and at an unscheduled performance at that).

July 28th, 1973 – Watkins Glen Actual PerformanceCo-headliners with The Band and The Allman Brothers Band, this show is pretty sweet too.

July 29th, 1982 – Redrocks AmphitheaterPretty boring set list but good 1982 effort at a great venue.

July 30th, 1988 – Laguna Seca Recreation AreaHot day, hotter first set.

July 31st, 1982 – Manor DownsOne of the best of the year.

Today in Grateful Dead History: July 24, 1987 – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium, Oakland, CA

Dancing Skeletons

The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan played a six concert mini-tour during the summer of 1987.  The Dead were ramping up again after Jerry’s 1986 coma and were playing some incredibly energetic and entertaining shows.  Bob Dylan was being late 80’s Bob Dylan.

Two years after these shows, the Dead released the album Dylan and the Dead that was culled from these shows.  It remains underwhelming, to say the least.  That’s why it’s nice to have these shows preserved in full on the Archive – you get a much better sense of what the concerts were about and the performance, while still ragged, has a much more organic feel.

This show started with a two-set full Grateful Dead show.  The first set, in particular, stands out with uptempo and well-played versions of Big River, Cassidy and Deal.  The band keeps up the pace in the second set with a groovy (if sloppy) Scarlet Begonias>Playin’ in the Band and, following Drums/Space, a serviceable Uncle John’s Band that really gets moving until Brent abruptly drags the band into Dear Mr. Fantasy.  As if to make up for the misstep, all involved play the hell out of the tune.  After a few more songs, including an unusual late second set Bertha, we take a short break and then get the Dylan set with the Dead playing backup.

Much has been written about Dylan during this period – how awful his voice was, how disinterested he was, etc . . . None of that matters here.  In Chronicles, Dylan credits the Grateful Dead with revitalizing his sound by forcing him to play rarities with new arrangements on this tour, something he continues to do to this day on his own never ending tour.  So yeah, haters can complain about Dylan’s crummy voice, but that’s not the point – it’s the music and the music the Dead is playing is interesting stuff.

Highlights of the Dylan set include the opening The Times They Are A Changing, spread out with Jerry noodling behind the band and I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight which sees Jerry breaking out the pedal steel guitar for the first time since the New Riders of the Purple Sage days of the early 70’s.  Ballad of a Thin Man is a slow burning procession and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door seems like it will go on forever, in a good way.  I think the most interesting part of the set is Shelter From the Storm.  The Dead kick into a very interesting and, dare I say, funky rhythm and Dylan doesn’t keep up.  But after the first couple of verses, Jerry takes a solo and when Dylan comes back in, he’s right on target, vocally.  It’s a fun ride.

Don’t listen to this show expecting 1966 era Bob Dylan – you’re not going to get it.  But if you keep an open mind, this will be a good time and an interesting listen, especially if you follow where Dylan’s gone since then.

Here’s the link to the audience recording of the entire show:  https://archive.org/details/gd1987-07-24.pzm.russjcan.92568.sbeok.flac16

I suggest that you switch over to this soundboard for the Dylan stuff (this link is only the Dylan set):  https://archive.org/details/gd1987-07-24.sbdAud.dad.97493.flac16

Today In Grateful Dead History: July 23, 1990 – World Music Theatre, Tinley Park, IL

dancing-bear Brent Mydland’s last show with the Grateful Dead took place on this date in 1990.  He passed away three days later from a speedball overdose.

I talked a little bit about my “coming to Brent” experience a couple of weeks ago, so I won’t repeat that discussion here.  Suffice to say, Brent’s death capped the end of an era – he was the Dead’s longest serving keyboard player, after all.  The next year would see the introduction of Vince Welnick as the band’s full time keyboard player and Bruce Hornsby’s short but sweet tenure as a second keyboardist.  But things would never be the same after Brent’s death.

As a show, this performance is pretty mushy, but there are a few inspired moments, including Brent’s final Never Trust a Woman followed by a rollicking Stagger Lee.  Even though it’s messy, I like this version of Foolish Heart, especially the ending.

Of course, the encore of this show has passed into legend as one of those “only the Grateful Dead” moments.  The Dead played The Band’s The Weight as the encore, and Brent’s final sentence as a member of the Grateful Dead ends up being “I’ve gotta go but my friends can stick around”.  Haunting.

Here is the soundboard link:  https://archive.org/details/gd1990-07-23.sbd.walker-scotton.miller.95898.sbeok.flac16

Today In Grateful Dead History: July 22, 1972 – Paramount Northwest Theatre, Seattle, WA

stealie After two days of poor performances from the 80’s and 90’s, I picked a show from 1972 and was reminded of just how tight the Grateful Dead were at the beginning of that decade.  This particular show from Seattle features almost no really long jams other than Playin’ in the Band (a great version) and yet it is very well played and every song has something to offer.  Quite the contrast to the last few days of material.

My favorite song from this show has to be Cumberland Blues, which is positively unhinged as it flies along for seven minutes of fun.  This comes on the heals of a nice version of Big Railroad Blues and precedes the aforementioned Playin’.

The centerpiece of the second set is He’s Gone >Truckin’>Sugar Magnolia followed by Morning Dew.  Out of these, Morning Dew is the only song that really gets going (gets going for 1972 – if they played Truckin’ like this in 1984, heads would have exploded), but boy does it, with some wonderful soloing from Jerry.  Interestingly enough, Bob is really low in the mix and then halfway through the long solo, he pops up really high and throws Jerry for a five second loop.  Garcia recovers and the song proceeds to a furious conclusion – it’s an interesting passage.

As I said at the beginning, shows like this one, with no truly transcendent songs but lots of really tight playing, make you truly appreciate the power of the Dead at this period in time.  They could almost do no wrong, even on a “quiet” night.

Here’s the link to the Charlie Miller soundboard, which is patched all over the place but at least its complete:  https://archive.org/details/gd1972-07-22.sbd.miller.94112.sbeok.flac16

(Parts of the show were also included as the filler on the Download Series, Vol. 10, which you can hear on Spotify if you’d like to hear the “tuned up” version)

Today In Grateful Dead History: July 21, 1984 – Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA

dancing-bear Some 1984 shows have that X factor that we’re all looking for, but in my opinion you have to dig pretty deep to find truly transcendent material in this year.  This is what makes exploring these shows so interesting – you never know what you’ll find.

Unfortunately, this performance from the Ventura County Fairgrounds doesn’t have much going for it.  I wanted to have positive things to say so we don’t have two negative days in a row, but that wasn’t in the cards.  I guess if you want to look on the bright side, it’s much better to have Brent around than Vince, which makes today an improvement over yesterday.  (Sorry Vince).

China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider is definitely the highlight of the first set, but there really isn’t much to talk about there.  The 2nd set Truckin’ is a lyrical and rhythmic mess and Eyes of the World doesn’t improve things.  After hearing this, I found myself seriously looking forward to Drums.  Post-Space we get a whole lot of not much, with Jerry eventually sliding woozily into a poor rendition of Stella Blue that sees him blow the opening lines of the first two verses and slurring most of the rest.  The guitar solo is the instrumental version of his lyrical performance.  Yikes.

Here you go if you want it:  https://archive.org/details/gd1984-07-21.sbd.walker-scotton.miller.96394.sbeok.flac16

Today In Grateful Dead History: July 20, 1994 – Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, IN

terrapinToday is one of those days with no Easy Answers (that’s a pun, but fortunately it’s also true).  The Grateful Dead only played one show on July 20th throughout their entire history, and it was this one on a rainy day in the middle of Indiana, 1994.

Childhood’s End (not the much better Pink Floyd song but the Phil Lesh mess) and Mathilda (typically played as the disappointing follow up to Corrina) both debuted today and that’s about all you need to know about this show.

What else . . . well, the first set is incredibly short and since it’s raining, the second set features three songs in a row about rain (Box of Rain – good song, awful version, Samba in the Rain – you know the drill, and Looks Like Rain – not Bob Weir’s best) followed by Here Comes Sunshine, which has not aged well.  The Uncle John’s Band really goes nowhere except into I Need a Miracle, which is what you’ll need to get to this point of the show.  Morning Dew is at least adequate to end the second set, but you can hear all of Jerry’s 90’s limitations on the Johnny B Goode encore.

If you’re adventurous, here’s the link:  https://archive.org/details/gd94-07-20.sbd.darkstar.12596.sbeok.shnf

Today In Grateful Dead History: July 17, 1982 – Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA

stealie Bob Weir tends to be pretty high in the mix on this recording, which does a bit to showcase the intricate and unusual things that he was up to in the early 80’s, none more so than the stuff he plays at the start of China Cat Sunflower, which seems to have no relationship to where the song is going but somehow (maybe by accident) melds into the tune perfectly.  It’s a strange intro and typical of that Grateful Dead magic.

There aren’t a lot of highlights here, but the first-set-ending Truckin’ comes close with a up-tempo rave up near the end of the song.  The second set starts with Playin’ in the Band, and that version, while not as good as Truckin’, is more than adequate and leads into the aforementioned China Cat Sunflower strangeness.

Beyond that, you’ve got some OK tunes but nothing to write home about.  I do recommend listening if you’re interested in Weir’s guitar parts, since they’re prevalent, but beyond that, this is easily skippable.

Here’s a link to the audience recording:  https://archive.org/details/gd1982-07-17.fob.senn421.wise.miller.102494.flac16