The Grateful Dead are one of my love’s and have been at the forefront of releasing historic live recordings for over 20 years now. I picked up thier first Vault issue, titled “One from the Vault” back in May ’91 – I can still recall the surprise and thrill seeing it on the counter of what is now Borderline Records. What a month that was; “One…” arrived within weeks of the release of Tim Buckley’s magnificent “Live In London” and the first of Bob Dyan’s bootleg series.
Anyway some 70+ releases later, comprising of over 330 CD’s, the Dead are still releasing “new” live recordings. This volume arrived through my mailbox just in time to get it on my trusty i-pod before jetting off the Cuba – and I am mighty glad it did!
The volume consists of two shows from the 20th December ’69 and 2nd February ’70 spread over 3 CD’s (there was 4th bonus disc from the 21st December ’69). This release having just been made possible by a recent tape find. I won’t profess to be a fanatic who knows every note the Dead played but to my ears these are fabulous shows. My favourite tracks are the two 20+minute versions of Dark Star – one with Tom C on keyboards and one with Pigpen. Sitting on the beach listening to these CD’s was unreal (real Desert Island Disc’s). They remind me of why the Dead have held my attention for nearly 40 years – mercurial guitars, crazy bass, one-of-a-kind harmonies, stonking percussion and tasty keyboards held loosly together by a hefty dose of magic.
Also listening to Dark Star took me back to one early one summer morning a few years ago when I was approaching Paris on the motorway playing the then recently released Dick’s Pick’s 22 – the music, view and atmosphere combined, creating one of those moments.
PS: I see the Dead have just announced another release from their tape vaults – a 14 disc set from thier May ’77 Tour – this is a limited edition of 15,000 with over 10,000 already accounted for!