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Published: 2008/07/22
by Dan Alford

GD 80s & a Bonus

Quick Picks:
Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Remedy- Brian Blades guitarist live at the Vanguard; amazing tone
GD, 12/13/80- Killer Sailor >Saint, Set II
Burning Spear, 8/26/00- Red, Green & Gold > Happy Day encore
Pink Floyd, Pulse- The Dark Side of the Moon set
Neil Young, 6/13/03- Neil destroys the Roo
A reminder that Im now dishing out tunes for Stormy Mondays every other Monday in the Hidden Tracks section of Come check it out.
GD, Philly 9/24/87
Its not always the case, especially when were talking about later GD shows, that a bizarre looking set list is actually worth the time- they can easily become messy or fall short in performance. Thats not entirely the case, 12/27/86 and 6/17/91 both jumping immediately to mind. 9/24/87 is another that is worth a listen or two, especially the second set: Box of Rain, Iko, Bucket, Fire > Drumz > Space > Other One. The first four are stand alones, but you almost have to think of them as 2, 1 & 1. Box and Iko are both tight, lively numbers, the Iko particularly so, staying closely packed with some great leads. Then the Bucket begins with Bobby encouraging the audience to watch plenty of television; you just might see this one. Its a blazing version, easily the best GD take. The whole band scorches throughout, and Bobby has the layered echo vocals going at the end, pushing the song way over the edge. While the crowd is still going nuts, the group launches into Fire, Garcia leads sizzling clear and sharp, even if he stumbles on the vocals.
Both the Drumz and Space are standouts, full of craziness and energy- even if youre someone who takes a bathroom break even when D/S comes on the old Hi Fi, this is 25 minutes of fine listening. The Other One comes ripping out of the fray, more vocal effects and great keyboard fills pushing it up a notch, and it spaces out nicely through the center. The first set from this show also has a late Esau (second to last) worth hearing. The source here is an ultra-matrix, so even though its crispy clean, the audience floods the soundscape weirdly at times. Still, worth checking out.
GD, Winterland 1973 Box Set Bonus Disc, 12/4/73
This bonus disc to the monster Winterland 1973 box set, which captures the three nights in November of that year and serves as balance for Dicks Picks Volume 14, which captures the band at almost the exact same period in a three night run on the other coast (all of which could have been released for a fuller scope); and which is grounded by three takes on a very young WRS in as many nights, just as that DP is grounded by Morning Dews of nearly exact length, features a second set from a stop in between in Cincinnati, OH. As is almost always the case with GD releases, the bonus is as good, if not better, than the original release. In this case, thats largely due to Phil, who is nothing less than a force of nature here. Hes belting out Bobbys verse in a sweet Rider from the first set like its his own, and he is thunderous in the almost melty transition from Truckin > Stella, also from the first set. Hes back again in the intro to Eyes that starts the second set, while Billy K nails a lively, high steppin rhythm, and then the bombs begin to drop. A series crash down right at the end of the last verse, and Phil drives the ensemble into the King Solomons passage, bounding ahead just as it starts and forcing the rest top catch up. The music begins to fall apart, and he pops this one massive note, maybe the single best note he ever played, and it lasts forever, fazing in and out at one point, and finally beginning to throb and purr. Keith and Jerry noodle around it, but theres only one noisemaker drawing any attention himself here. This is prime space. At some point, Phil tweaks it up high, and Garcia tries to race alongside, but the bass is far too massive, incomprehensible, and Phil is left alone, feeding back, and finally destroying the planet.
Billys willing to pick up the pieces though, and rides in with snappy, loose beat that looses shape pretty quickly, becoming part of a more traditional space, if such an adjective can be attached to any space from 73-74. The tiger growl in here is absolutely wild, very nearly speaking as it cools, a clear attempt to live up to standards set too high. A smokin Sugar Magnolia follows, only just barely holding itself together at the peak, skipping the Sunshine Daydream, but going for GDTRFB instead. Garcias vocals are exceptional here, with Yes it does and Yeahs, and a sick solo erupts thereafter, giving voice to all thats left unsaid. Really great stuff. The transition into Casey Jones is admittedly clunky, but Phil is fat and calm now, and the world feels good. Check it out.
GD, Go to Nassau
The Vault release from the fall of 2002 draws its title from the fact that it features early versions of much of the material released on Go to Heaven. The humor, however, is that Nassau is easily one of the most inhospitable venues on the East Coast. The double disc set features a number of suites from 2 nights in May of 1980, and is one of the best Vault releases to date. The music exudes enthusiasm; its bright and energetic and fearless, without needing to push the boundaries too far. The first disc has an excellent Jack Straw > Franklins Tower to open, and closes with China > Rider, a common first set closer at the time.
The second disc features the meatiest music from the second sets, including a fantastic string of Stranger > Althea > Sailor > Saint, each one sparkling with freshness. The disc is rounded out with strong performances of more familiar material in one long passage. The transitions all shine, especially the Playing > Uncle Johns Band. Go to Nassau is simply one of the most fun recordings to escape from the Vault- highly recommended.

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