I’ve talked here before about the little moments that often stand out from an average Grateful Dead show – pinpoints of brilliance that make listening to 3+ hours of sometimes similar sounding music pop. I counted two of those moments in this show from the Greek Theater in 1982.
The first comes during the spirited Sugaree that follows Jack Straw as the one-two show opener. This is a good Sugaree, with those repetitive Jerry Garcia runs that are a trademark of this song from this era. But midway through this version, Jerry slows things down for a minute and the song opens up, with the space between notes acting as its own instrument and standing in contrast to the fluid sprinting that took place before. This openness is not unusual for Sugaree in the 80’s, but on this particular Matrix the notes ring clear and true and they send shivers.
The second moment occurs much later but it involves similar use of open space in the music. We’re going to fast forward to the end of Space, which is slowly turning into Not Fade Away. At this point, we’re experiencing the reverse of the situation I just described. Instead of hearing the song open up, we’re hearing Space gather slowly together, bit by bit, into the coherent, heavier song. This often happens in Grateful Dead jams, especially at this point in the show. But once again, the clarity of the playing, the crystalline sharpness of Jerry and Bob working their way into Not Fade Away, stands out.
Those are my favorite moments. The rest of the show, especially the first set, is nicely played and there are some fun versions of classic songs like Cumberland Blues and Deal. There are lots of rockers in the second set and not a ton of jamming, but if you’re interested in having a party with the Grateful Dead, this would be a good show to listen to.
It’s the 80’s, so if there is a Matrix available, I typically like to work with it. Listen to the very nice mix here: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-05-22.mtx.seamons.101450.sbeok.flac16
NOTE: This material was originally published in 2015 on my previous site. It has been updated and edited, sometimes heavily, and was posted in several batches in September, 2016.
Our second benefit performance in a row, this one was for Vietnam Vets. The Dead shared the bill with Country Joe and Jefferson Starship and played the entire show with Brazilian drummer Airto Moreira. More importantly, John Cipollina sat in on Not Fade Away and he and Boz Scaggs sang / played on Walkin’ Blues, A Mind To Give Up Livin’>Turn On Your Lovelight>Johnny B. Goode. This was the only time the Dead played A Mind To Give Up Livin’ and they hadn’t played Walkin’ Blues since October, 1966.
This is a short show, but it’s action packed. Tennessee Jed is very raw, which is a good thing, and the entire second set with Scaggs singing and Cipollina playing is a blues/rock excursion that is worth hearing.
Most of the commentators on the Archive and Dead.net who were at this show complain about the sound quality in the pillared, low-ceilinged room, but this audience recording from an unknown source is really quite nice and sounds a lot better to me than the muddy soundboard version: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-05-28.senn441.unknown.87547.sbeok.flac16
This is a hot show from the first notes of Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo through the final verse of Johnny B. Goode. The band never loses momentum and almost goes off the rails entirely during a lunatic second set version of Samson and Delilah that crams ten minutes of song into six minutes of pure pounding bliss.
This audience recording needs a little work with the EQ to sound good, but once you get dialed in, you’re in for a treat. Everything in the first set smokes, with the whole band grooving out on Feel Like a Stranger and West L.A. Fadeaway. The drummers, in particular, are on fire here, setting down a brutal pace that forces everyone to bring their A games to stay on top of the material. Althea ends the very short first set. According to the comments, Bob walked off stage near the end (maybe due to equipment issues), leaving us with a rare recording of Jerry telling the audience that the band will be back in a bit.
When the Dead do come back, they come back, with a dynamic second set: Uncle John’s Band>Samson and Delilah>Uncle John’s Band>Estimated Prophet>Eyes Of The World>Drums>The Wheel>The Other One>Wharf Rat>Good Lovin’. As I said before, this Samson and Delilah is nuts (Brent’s organ, dear lord . . . ), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Estimated Prophet is very good (if you don’t like Bob Weir scat singing, you might want to skip it, but for the rest of us, pure gold . . . ) and Eyes of the World had me ramming my foot through the floor. The transition from The Wheel into The Other One is pitch perfect for this night – it’s not a drawn out build up, but rather a pretty quick shot right into a pulsating seven minute blow out. After a couple more tunes, we get a two song Day Job>Johnny B. Goode encore, probably to apologize for the short first set. Who knows?
As you can tell from my tone, I was delighted by this hidden gem. Explore it here: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-09-09.123191.beyerm160.streeter-miller.flac16
Did you know that the Grateful Dead played a second show in Veneta, Oregon almost ten years to the day after their triumphant August 27, 1972 performance? Not only does the band pull out all of the 1982 stops for this festival performance, but they also debut two early-to-mid-80’s staple songs; the much maligned Keep Your Day Job and the more respected but still under-appreciated West L.A. Fadeaway.
I’m not even going to try to compare this show to its more famous older cousin – too much has changed over the ten years between stops in Veneta. But looking at this performance in relation to other 1982 shows, I can say that we have a good early 80’s show on our hands. You wouldn’t know it from some of the vocal flubs in Bertha, which gets things rolling, but everyone sounds psyched and it’s clear the band is having a good time. The first hint of that “special something” takes place in Tennessee Jed, when Jerry and Bob play off each other for over a minute at the end with Brent joining in for good measure. It’s All Over Now, usually nothing special, is something great today, as is the set ending China Cat Sunflower>I Know Your Rider.
The second set opens with Day Job>The Women Are Smarter. On paper this looks terrible, but today this combination smokes, especially The Women Are Smarter. (Remember, this is the first Day Job ever. And speaking of Day Job, I think most of the problem with the song comes from the lyrics, which, as someone with said day job, I don’t find offensive. Musically, I’ve always liked this tune, and have frequently found myself humming it hours after hearing it). The meat of this show is a thrilling sequence several songs later: Playin’ In The Band>Drums>The Wheel>The Other One>Truckin’>Black Peter>Playin’ In The Band. The Dead must have channeled the ghosts of 1972 for this section – the jamming in Playin in the Band is fantastic, the transition into The Wheel is top of the line, The Other One is fun and Black Peter is a tour de force. The Dupree’s Diamond Blues encore, which hadn’t been played since 1978, caps off a great day.
When I posted this I forgot to link to the show. Here it is, a week later: https://archive.org/details/gd1982-08-28.sbd.walker-scotton.miller.106166.flac16
I didn’t have time to post this yesterday and now I’m writing on my phone but I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight this exceptional performance that has been released as Dick’s Picks Vol. 32.
The show starts off with an amazing sequence – The Music Never Stopped > Sugaree > The Music Never Stopped. The unexpected detour into Sugaree is incredible and the transition back into The Music Never Stopped is sublime.
Other highlights include a first set ending Let It Grow that is simply masterful and a China Cat Sunflower >I Know You Rider that rivals the band’s best from the 70’s. But all this is just the lead up to Playin’ In The Band-> Drums-> The Wheel-> Playin’ In The Band-> Morning Dew which is just about as masterful a sequence as you’ll hear the band play in the 80’s.
If you don’t already own this you owe it to yourself to check it out: https://archive.org/details/gd82-08-07.sbd-streeter-wise.unknown.7689.sbeok.shnf
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