Post Godchaux
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Primal GD...
Godchaux Era
Post Godchaux
G. Dead show reviews
Imaginary Studio Releases
JGB June 16 - 18, '82

Grateful Dead bootleg reviews and recommendations


Dick's Picks Volume 5 reviewDick's Picks Vol. 32 review

Post Godchaux

Nightfall of Diamonds reviewDick's Picks Vol. 9 review

Grateful Dead bootleg reviews and recommendations

Select shows to represent the post-Godchaux era of the Grateful Dead

There is a tendency among those who like to classify eras to lump everything after the Godchauxs into two or three (maybe four) eras, but a more accurate representation would look something like this:

1. 1979: Breaking in the new guy. It took some time, but by Fall 1979 he was convincing us he could handle it.

Common favorites: 5-7-79, 10-27-79, 11-01-79, 12-01-79, 12-28-79

Default: DP-5 (readily available)

2. The 9/25 - 10/31/80 acoustic / electric run. They began the second half of their careers with this long stand of three-set shows, demonstrating two things: 1) they could still pull off a good acoustic set more often than not, and 2) they no longer really had the stamina for three full sets.

Fortunately, the acoustic sets were first, and all were professionally recorded. While you might wish to search out a few of these (10/10 seems especially popular), they are beautifully compiled on Reckoning, now expanded to two CDs.

3. 1981-82: Coasting on good wheels. Several older songs came back, and a few new ones debuted; from this point on the setlists held well over a hundred songs in active rotation. Phil becomes less prominent.

Common favorites: 3-10-81, almost any show from May 81, 7-10-81, 9-12-81, 4-18-82, almost any show from Aug or late July 82, 10-10-82

Default: ooh, tough one. 3-10-81 for its amazing Audience sound to match its unique performance; 8-07-82 is readily available now as Dicks Pick #32, and also circulates in a more balanced (if less bassy) audience version.

4. 1983-84: deep into the drugs, and it shows, but often sublimely dreamy performances for all that. Interesting peaks seems to be in June & Oct of 1983, April 1984, and Fall 1984. Overall quality suffered, but it was something special when they were 'on' (as usual).

Common favorites: 4-17-83 (including Stephen Stills post-drums), most Oct 1983 shows, 12-28-83, 7-13-84, 10-12-84, 11-02-84. 7-13-84 has a unique 'Dark Star' encore.

Default: most choose 7-13-84, and that's too bad; it's not representative of the best of this era (although a very good second set). I'd go with any of the others, or even 10-14-83 (Dicks Pick #6).

5. 1985-summer 86: Reconstruction of Phil. Mr. Bomb decided to get back in the saddle, leaving Jerry the main slacker.

Common favorites: 3-25-85, 6-15-85, 6-28-85, 6-30-85, most November 85, 12-30-85, 4-21-86

Default: 6-28-85, short but sweet.

6. 12-15-86 thru 1988: Reconstruction of Jerry. 1987 shows the boys tightening up, distilling, sharpening, less jamming -- think 1971 0r 1976. 1988 suffers influx of 'Touch heads' & introduction of material that later appears on Built to Last.

Common favorites: 12-15-86, 11-15-87, 7-02-88, 7-15-88

Default: most choose 12-15-86, just for the emotional factor, but 7-15-88 is a mighty fine show that better shows the transitional nature of this era

7. 1989-Summer 90: Back in the Saddle - 
Common favorites: 4-28-89, 7-18-89, several Oct 89s which feature the return of "Dark Star," 3-29-90 (w/ Branford Marsalis), 7-12-90

Default: 10-16-89, released in glorious multi-track as Nightfall of Diamonds

8. Fall 90 - Spring 1992: Bruce & Vince. The Dead had a certain quality with a single keyboardist; they had a denser one with two. Bruce brought two distinct qualities to the band: his energetic playing (which clearly inspired Jerry), and a fan's enthusiasm for "Dark Star," resulting in a more-frequent appearance of that song to the rotation.

Common favorites: 9-20-90, 6-14-91, 6-17-91 (View from the Vault #2), 8-17-91 (for a first-set "Dark Star," though it isn't very good), 9-10-91 (w/ Branford Marsalis), 9-26-91. If there is a dull show in this era, I have yet to hear it.

Default: 9-20-90, regarded by many as THE best show of the later eras.

9. Fall 1992 - 1993: Reconstructing Jerry again.  (After letting himself be driven to collapse)

Common favorites: 12-16-92 (DP-27), 3-24-93, 5-26-93, 8-22-93, 9-13-93

Default: DP-27 (readily available, and includes great additions from 12-17-92)

10. 1994-95: Stuck in the Stadiums. It's no secret that Jerry hated the stadiums by this point, and yet there were still shows that crackled and shone!

Common favorites: 10-01-94, 10-14-94, 3-19-95 (Unbroken Chain debut), 3-23-95 (w/ Bruce Hornsby), 6-25-95 (also w/ Bruce Hornsby), 7-9-95 (the final show)

Default: hard to say. Many choose the final show as their only late-era listening (again, for emotional reasons), and (again) that's too bad; I'd prefer any of the others. None of them are uniformly excellent throughout, but each has outstanding performances that are bound to be among your favorites. All shows in this late era suffer from Jerry's fading vocal quality (especially in early parts of the shows), but we still find him reaching definitive interpretive heights.

Personal default: 10-01-94, for the soulful So Many Roads, powerful Scarlet>Fire, and heart-rending Stella Blue.
Ramble On Joe

Grateful Dead bootleg reviews and recommendations


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