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Thread: Recommend me some of the proggiest Grateful Dead shows you can think of

  1. #26
    Ah, sounds like you got the View From The Vault releases, then. Some of the music on those is good, but it's depressing watching Jerry during the 80's and 90's. not only is he older and literally greyer, but his whole body language is different. I've talked about this in the past, but if you watch the older concert footage that exists and compare to the later stuff, there's a lot of weird things he started doing. He almost looks like he's resting his nose on the microphone. When he's not singing his head down so that his chin is resting on his chest, making him look like he's literally dozed off and playing in his sleep.

    And there's a lot of moments where he let's say he plays a descending run on the fingerboard, ending on an open low E, and as that one note sounds, you see his left arm drop down to his side for a few seconds. And it doesn't look like an act of showmanship (which Jerry was never into anyway). It's more like the physical exertion of doing anything he didn't have to, such as keeping his hand on the neck of the guitar when not fretting a note or holding his head up when he wasn't singing, had become too much work for him.

    I've heard it suggested all of this might have been because of whichever bad habits he picked up at the end of the 70's or early 80's. I've also heard it said that the reason the Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band continued to tour, even as Jerry playing and singing got more and more ragged, was basically to pay for said bad habits. Oy!

    I see that this set also includes So Far and Dead Ahead, both of which I haven't seen in ages. I remember a few months after Jerry passed away, the local PBS station aired Dead Ahead during one of their fundraiser deals, and during every single intermission, they kept emphasizing the fact that they had made this deal to show Dead Ahead way before Jerry went home and that they weren't doing it just to "cash in" on his death or whatever. But both of those have their moments.

    I really wish they'd put out an unedited version of the New Year's Eve 87 pay per view concert, complete with all the comedy bits that Tom Davis did, as host of the broadcast. I know a heavily edited version which was missing the comedy and at least a couple of the songs, came out back in the 90's, but the full show was actually pretty good. I wouldn't want the entire 5 hour or whatefer it was broadcast, but certainly all of the band's performance, plus the taped interview and comedy bits (like Cooking With Jerry and Spock doing the Vulcan Mind Meld on Santa Claus) I thought were pretty good. There's a couple "Ask the band" bits, where they taped audience members asking the band members questions, and other than the lady who asks why they don't have half priced tickets for children, I'm not sure anyone's taking any of it seriously.

  2. #27
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    I have spent a lot of time over the last several months with the 14-DVD set of Dead shows. There are still some that I haven't watched, but many I've watched 3-4 times so it has been a lot of viewing.

    Some observations:

    First, it is clear that Garcia is (was) a melodic genius. Sort of like Kraftwerk, you would think what he does isn't very difficult, but no one else can do it right! That being said he appears to have lost most of this genius by the late 1980s. He was still very good as a lead guitarist, but that spontaneous beauty that he created so effortlessly in the 1974 GD movie outtakes for example, is far less in evidence.

    Second, the "proggy" Dead thing seems gone by 1980. The only remnant of it was the structured passages of Slipknot which they still played regularly. Love that.

    On the positive side, the Dead were still a very good and entertaining band in the 1980s. The new songs were good, way above average lyrics, catchy, well-played. The two drummers give the shows a lot of energy and Brent Mydland really improves the vocals and the cover songs. I like Mydland's Hammond solos too. And I am really impressed by the way they mixed up their setlists. There are two shows from the Summer of 1989 on the DVDs for example and only two songs repeat. Imagine if Yes did that!

    On final observation is how the crowds changed. In '74 it really was the freaks and the hardcore Deadheads. By 1989 it looks like a lot of frat boys and their dates. Like the same audience that would go to see Jimmy Buffett the next weekend.

    It probably was not necessary to buy the whole 14-DVD set. I could have bought the DVDs one at a time and saved a little money. But so what. Watching the DVDs has been a lot of fun and I have a newfound appreciation for the Dead, even if I didn't get very much prog out of it.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Second, the "proggy" Dead thing seems gone by 1980. The only remnant of it was the structured passages of Slipknot which they still played regularly. Love that.
    NIT PICKING ALERT!!!!!!
    Actually, no they didn't. The full Help On The Way/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower suite was played regularly in 76-78, then got dropped. It came back for awhile circa 82-83, but then got dropped again and didn't come back til 1989. I have at least one recording from the early 90's, where Jerry completely botches one of the structured sections, sounding like he didn't just lose his place in the music, but also like he completely spaced out what he was supposed to be playing.

    I've said it before in other threads here and elsewhere, but I sometimes feel Jerry didn't like dealing with playing stuff that required him to work, as it were, ie if it required a lot of practice, rehearse, memorize, repeat, ad nauseum, he rather not even bother. He was sort of like the anti-Fripp.

    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    On the positive side, the Dead were still a very good and entertaining band in the 1980s. The new songs were good,way above average lyrics, catchy, well-played. The two drummers give the shows a lot of energy and Brent Mydland really improves the vocals and the cover songs. I like Mydland's Hammond solos too. And I am really impressed by the way they mixed up their setlists. There are two shows from the Summer of 1989 on the DVDs for example and only two songs repeat. Imagine if Yes did that!
    I've often maintained that the Dead had some of the best lyricists in rock music. In particular, Robert Hunter is one of the geniuses of lyric writing. If you haven't heard it already, I strongly suggest you pick up the American Beauty album, and listen in particular to Box Of Rain and Ripple. Those have some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard.

    The Dead had the ability to play multi night runs, at least three or four shows, without repeating any songs. Mind you, a lot of those (particularly in the first set) were cover tunes, but it is impressive that they could pull that off (even if Jerry or Weir at times seem to blank on the words from time to time).

    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    On final observation is how the crowds changed. In '74 it really was the freaks and the hardcore Deadheads. By 1989 it looks like a lot of frat boys and their dates. Like the same audience that would go to see Jimmy Buffett the next weekend.
    Yeah,t hat's what happens when you make a music video, MTV puts it into heavy rotation and devotes an entire weekend to your music, and you suddenly score your first top 10 hit in your 22 year existence! Actually, I think the frat boy contingent may have already been there in the early 80's, if not a little earlier. Part of that might be the result of them doing a lot of college gigs in the late 70's (what the frell is a "field house", anyway? They sure played a lot of them circa 77-78).

    But there were a lot of people who felt MTV's intervention upon the release of the In The Dark album in 1987 ruined things. They went from being the biggest cult band in the world to being a genuine pop culture phenomenon (with late talk show hosts and sitcom writers dropping jokes into their work), practically over night.

    And it's been suggested that was there were a lot of people (referred to by veteran fans as "Touch-heads", after Touch Of Grey, the aforementioned hit single) who were showing up "just for the party" who didn't understand the subculture and the...maybe "rules" is the wrong word, but there were a lot of people who just didn't get it, showing up because they wanted to party in the parking lot. The Dead actually banned from a lot of places circa 88-89, because apart from the 20,000-50,0000 people who actually had tickets for a given show, you had another few thousand (or maybe even more) who'd show up just to hang out in the parking lot and maybe snag somebody's extra ticket or whatever. Local authorities got sick of dealing with it. It was to the point where I remember Phil Lesh being interviewed on the Grateful Dead Hour radio show at one point, literally telling the fans to stay home if they didn't already have tickets for a given show.

    But as I said, I think that was already starting even before the whole Touch Of Grey phenomenon kicked into gear, I think there were a lot of that contingency in the crowds already. And I think that's what made it possible for them to get away with playing badly at times. While there's some nice shows in the View From The Vault series, if you go back just a few years, to the early 80's, there were a lot of really weak shows. There's a reason why the Dead's archival releases tend to not feature very many shows from 81-87. There were some good show during that period, but there was also some not very good ones (and in 1985, they played one show, at a place called Boreal Ridge, which was rated by many fans who've heard it as the worst show the Dead ever played).

    David Gans, the host of the Grateful Dead Hour noted that he started to feel in the early 80's that the audience didn't seem to really care whether or not the band played well or not. If they came on played badly, they still got the same reception, and he said at first he wasn't sure if he was going crazy or if it was just everyone else who was. He said it was like the gesture of the band coming onstage at all was enough for much of the crowd. (shrug)


    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    It probably was not necessary to buy the whole 14-DVD set. I could have bought the DVDs one at a time and saved a little money. But so what. Watching the DVDs has been a lot of fun and I have a newfound appreciation for the Dead, even if I didn't get very much prog out of it.
    No actually you probalby got a discounted deal by buying them together. Glad you enjoyed the stuff you got. Now, we need to get you started on those bootlegs!

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Now, we need to get you started on those bootlegs!
    I will try to pick up some of the Dick's (or Dave's picks) from '77 and '78. Most folks online have nothing bad to say about those years, and that seems where a lot of the "prog" lies. I have already downloaded the famous Cornell 1977 show but have not listened to it yet.

    One funny thing: you mentioned Boreal Ridge. I drove across the country (Michigan-California) with two friends in '85 and when we hit the Nevada/Calif border we heard there was a big Dead show in the area. WTF, let's go, we said. The highway was totally clogged up because of the show. we parked the car at the side of the road and hiked over a mountain (literally) to see it with a group of Deadheads who knew the area.

    So I was actually at Boreal Ridge. Only one of two dead shows I have been to. I thought it was pretty good, actually, but a lot of folks were really dissing it. To each his own.

  5. #30
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    Dick's Picks Vol 18 is from 1978 and it has a super sweet Scarlet/Fire that clocks in at about 29 minutes.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

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