music from Dead Set was recorded live in 1980 from the
following dates: September 25 through October 14, at the Warfield Theater in
San Francisco, CA, and October 22 through October 31, at Radio City
Music Hall in New York, NY. It was
originally released as a double album in 1981 and then released as a
single disc with "Space" omitted to allow the contents to
fit onto one CD. In Oct. 2004 the Grateful Dead re-mastered Dead
Set and included a second disc of previously unreleased
In current times bands commonly release complete concerts,
however, when the original Dead Set album was released in
1981, it was
unheard of, so an attempt was made to make it
It is not easy to trim two electric Grateful Dead
sets onto one disc without some comprises. They did attempt to add a
concert flow by switching the singers. An emphasis is on set one and short tracks (for Grateful Dead
standards) and they include edits, and they also give a flavor of the second set
"Franklin's Tower" through "Fire On The
Mountain," and even the punchy "Greatest Story Ever Told"
sort of flows as the second set closer, followed by an encore of
the expanded double disc version, the
HDCD re-mastering gives a huge boost to the sound quality. A listen
in headphones reveals superb separation of the instruments, you can
really hear each musicians part clearly. Then at loud volumes the fidelity has a good bounce to it,
and all of the parts just jump
out at you, such as Brent's bouncing and ricocheting organ during "C. C.
Rider," or the dynamics of "Candyman," to the power
generated in "Passenger."
The first disc we'll call a trimmed down set one and two combined. Their
performance of “Loser” is a real highlight of disc one. Also
worthwhile are Jerry's others ballads, “Friend of the Devil,”
”Deal,” “Candyman,” and “Brokedown Palace.” Weir
delivers more diversity in the type of songs performed covering a
few rockers, blues, and the funky "Feel Like A Stranger."
Overall everything sounds really precise, almost too perfect, which is
a bit un-Grateful Dead like.
bonus material includes a few tracks that allow the band to stretch
out the jamming a bit that is absent on disc one, and this starts
right away with solid takes of Weir's "Let It Grow," and
Garcia's "Sugaree." While not 1977, this was a good year for
"Sugaree" both for the Grateful Dead and JGB,
and this rendition is no exception.
am a huge fan of a good "Shakedown Street" and that is the
first thing I listened to upon opening the re-mastered copy of Dead
Set. While this is not a definitive version, a juicy 1980
multi-track soundboard cranked up will surely pump you up. But even
more so, "Jack Straw" is blistering with power and is
surely one of the highlights of the two discs.
of the things I enjoy about 1980 is that it is a period of the Brent
tenure that Jerry's voice sounds really good, his guitar chops are
solid as well. Since Dead Set is not a concert, it provides a
different listening experience than a Dick's Picks release. However,
all of the song renditions are generally enjoyable and multi-track
source sound quality give it an extra plus.