Select shows to represent the post-Godchaux era of the
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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
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
Ramble On Joe ©