Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Easy Monday/Tuesday 6-25-1991

Another easy beginning of the week, so I won't spend too much time on the Dead today, but I wanted to point out a fun first set from 1991.  The 90's aren't well respected by most dead fans, but 91 is a fantastic year in Dead history.  The band (and Garcia in particular) was invigorated by Bruce Hornsby participation with the band helping out Vince Welnick make his transition into the group full time.  I have always loved 1991 and 90 as my first tapes for whatever reason were from this era (I will get to those at some point).  On this night Jerry and Bruce really seem to click.... 

Today's show is from 6-25-91 Bonner Springs, KS.

The keyboards of the new twinklers are loud on the opening "Jack Straw" and then omnipresent on "Sugaree" with Vince's electric flourishes overpowering the song, adding a weird carnival vibe before Jerry gets his MIDI into the act turning the tune into a mangled sonic soup.   This version is def worth a listen; one of the weirdest versions of one of their best tunes, can't say I love it, but it sure is interesting.  The first set while nothing life changing is a good example of how Hornsby and to a lesser extent Welnick forced the old gray-beards to open up some of their older tunes with new vigor...not always improving but at least always changing.

Where these new keyboard tones and vamps really come into their own are evident at the beginning of the second set. The 25+ minute combo of "Scarlett Begonias">"Fire on the Mountain" is perfect for this new experimenting especially the segue between the two.  These versions are mellow but exploratory more jazz then rock, not that smoking...speaking of smoking, "Smokestack Lightnin'">"He's Gone" continues the exploratory trend.  Bobby's cover of Smokestack has never been one of my favorites, but it gives me a chance to post the original by Howlin' Wolf:

"He's Gone" on the other hand is one of Jerry's better ballads, a real original that rings even more powerful now that he is actually gone, this version escapes into the air and floats majestically exploring the outer reaches.

One of the highlights of the 90's for the Dead was Jerry's voice aging to the point of rasp that added a greater sense of levity and beauty to the slower numbers.  Another of the excellent Jerry ballads pops up post Drums>Space via "Comes A Time". If forced to rank them, I would probably place "Comes A Time" behind only "Stella Blue" and the late great "Days Between" when it comes to Garcia's ballads. There is something about this tune that just cuts real deep in both the lyrics and the playing; a sense of honesty not always heard in the Dead's tunes.  

Only played 66 times live, this is a great version, savor this and the ending celebration of "Good Lovin'" which was a cover made famous by The Young Rascals that the Dead made their own:

And Jerry laying on the ballad one more time with the finality of Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" here is a different cover version by Eric Burdon and The Animals that you can compare it against, Enjoy the show:

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