Monday, April 26, 2010

Dead and the Neville's Part 3

 I was originally going to end this series of the Dead and the Neville's with the classic New Years Eve show from 1987 that was released officially as the movie "Ticket to New Years Eve", (Here is Bill Graham's entrance from that night and a bit of "Hell in a Bucket" from the fella's)

However the archive doesn't support commercial releases, even audience recordings, so I am throwing a mini curve ball here with the second set from 12-16-1986 right at ya:

This show is part of a special run of concerts that saw the band do a legitimate 180 in their career.  Spring/Summer of '86 left a lot of fans wanting as performances and inspiration seemed to be running dry with the fellas.  Then Jerry fell into his diabetic coma for 5 days and the experience changed his life, here's how he explained it: 

"Well, I had some very weird experiences. My main experience was one of furious activity and tremendous struggle in a sort of futuristic, space-ship vehicle with insectoid presences. After I came out of my coma, I had this image of myself as these little hunks of protoplasm that were stuck together kind of like stamps with perforations between them that you could snap off."
Weird indeed, after having to re-learn the guitar and clean up some his notoriously bad habits he had enough strength to book these shows some 6 months post coma, pretty impressive, and even more so when you hear the playing.

This was the second show back on stage and from the tripped out playing it seems like they were not missing a beat, in fact they sound better then they had pre-Jerry breakdown.

The second set here is freaky fun, starting with the rarely played "Box of Rain" after being gone out of the setlists for over 10 years, the band brought it back in the spring of 86 and it sounds excellent here as Phil gets the opening vocal duties.  "Crazy Fingers" comes next and this is a tune I always forget how much I enjoy until I hear it.  Nothing earth shattering on display, but the grace and ease with which the fret runs flow, prove that Jerry was back in fighting shape.  "Estimated Prophet"  lets Bobby get wacky with echoes but really becomes intriguing around the 9 minute mark, with an amplified Brett coloring excellently while Garcia solos on his own, not the smoothest version, but an adventurous listen.  While the "Estimated" grew on me, the following "Eyes of The World" was odd from the get-go, super speedy, Speed Racer chaotic even.  In it comes, twinkles around a bit and is is almost as if the band wanted to get the Neville's on stage and start banging those "Drums".
  This is a fun drum jam, and even though it is 11 minutes, it doesn't get too boring as far as drum solo's go, which I grant you aren't the most exciting things in the world.  When the band comes back on stage they are joined by the Brother's Neville and start throwing down some "Willy and The Hand Jive"  written and recorded by Johnny Otis.

Tonight's version keeps the echoe-y Bobby and Art Neville's vocals, but adds a ton of strutting funk to the mix, a cool rarity from the two groups on stage.
The Neville's stick around to help out on a quick and exciting "Iko Iko", before letting the Dead end their set with a powerful "Stella Blue" and the "Sugar Magnolia>Sunshine Daydream" combo that must have gotten the crowd fired up with it's tropical feel lead by Brent.

The Neville's return to close the show on a high note with an bumping Steve Cropper/Wilson Pickett encore "In The Midnight Hour".     

The Dead and the Neville's had a healthy respect for each other and provided some great sonic moments on stage, as I mentioned in my first post on the subject, both bands experienced career renaissances around the same time and helped each other broaden their collective fanbases.  It was a healthy relationship and a fruitful take some time and enjoy these two titans of American Music.  

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