Not too short, not too long, this one feels juuust right. “Dear Mr. Fantasy”July 2, 1989; Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts. Boston's Sept. 26 show and the Halloween run at Oakland are highlights, but there was nothing else like the night saxophonist Branford Marsalis sat in with the band. “Stella Blue”October 21, 1978; Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco. The Dead never played that one live, in full, again. This one was vaultkeeper Dick Latvala’s favorite, a big reason he chose the show as Dick’s Picks Vol. What follows is a selection of the best live versions of 50 songs by the Grateful Dead (and a few cover tunes) spanning their history. This one comes out of a fantastic “Estimated Prophet” and quickly rolls up to cruising speed and becomes very powerful; and the post-song jam is a thing of beauty, with Weir on tasteful background slide for some of it, before it eases into “Drums” (featuring Brazilian jazzers Flora Purim and Airto). The arguments for the 13th vs.14th are strong (the existing tapes from the 11th are incomplete) and both shows are extremely potent, but the 14th gets the upper hand, if only for the monumental "Lovelight." This one is over-the-top spectacular, with super high-energy jamming all the way through its generous length; one of several highlights in an amazing show from an underrated year. After all, hardcore Deadheads would argue that 50 versions of “Dark Star”—each different as can be—could be a list in itself. Nineties pick: Nassau Coliseum 3-27-90; gotta give some love to the magnificent first show where saxophonist Branford Marsalis sat in with the Dead, and fit in perfectly! The mini-suite from Anthem of the Sun, incorporating “Cryptical Envelopment” sandwiching “The Other One,” was at its best from 1968–70, with ’69 its best year, but this one is my longtime favorite, for its many incredible mood swings, peaks and valleys; just an amazing ride. Seventies pick: County Fairgrounds, Veneta, Oregon, 8-27-72. So, live recordings it is. And the Dead have been dead for years, though the surviving members, some now in their 70s, plan a resurrection this summer in Soldier Field, a final set of shows for an act that ended, depending on your point of view, when Jerry Garcia died in 1995 or at some point before, when he fell into his heroin addiction, or relapsed back into it, over a blur of tours, triumphs and burnouts during the preceding two decades. 4-3. "The Eleven" would be played once more after this night and then never again. Available on Dick’s Picks Vol. McFarlin Auditorium, DallasDecember 26th, 1969 Listening to this wonderful show, one can’t help but feel a pang of sadness when Brent takes his verse on the “Let the Good Times Roll” opener. Along the way they built the most loyal fan base the music world had ever seen. 24-23. No collection should be without the superb 2013 set called Sunshine Daydream, which includes the full concert and also a DVD of the trippy, long-bootlegged-but-now-restored film of (some of) the event that gives the box its name. Nineties pick: Hamilton 4-22-90 (tight, great MIDI Jerry). ); and “Saint of Circumstance” is a riff-heavy and ultimately anthemic rocker, which also has some unpredictable components. This first-set version shows all its bludgeoning brute force (and sophistication), then dissolves into Garcia’s late-Eighties ballad tour de force, “Standing on the Moon”—which, truthfully, deserves to be on this list, too, so listen to both! From left: Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan, Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead perform onstage at The Family Dog in 1970 in San Francisco, Calif. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. Eighties pick: Frost Amphitheatre 10-10-82. He passed away two years later, making these shows that much more special to revisit. 2. 29. “Feel Like a Stranger”August 10, 1982; Fieldhouse, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. 8/6/71 - Rob Bertrando AUD / DP 35. From the Eighties, it’s hard to top Augusta, Maine 10-12-84. Sublime solos, 30-minute jams and a fierce show in a Danish cafeteria: David Fricke chooses 20 must-own gigs for every Deadhead, The Grateful Dead perform in San Francisco in 1970, Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Eighties pick: Madison Square Garden, New York; 3-9-81. Madison Square Garden, New York September 14th, 1991 “Not Fade Away” > “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”November 15, 1971; Austin Municipal Auditorium, Texas. The best Eighties versions of this Weir tune, also from 1975’s Blues for Allah, have a ragged majesty and intensity that is unmatched by earlier ones. The Dead were working with two keyboard players, Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby; the latter’s singing also added pinpoint heft to the harmonies. But as the Dead hit their 50th anniversary, it is worth remembering them nonetheless. By ’72, “The Other One” had been cut loose completely from its original moorings, but it still careened across the Dead landscape as a compelling and constantly changing blast of trippy energy for the rest of the group’s career. 1977 is generally regarded as one of their finest years on the road. When this site started in February, 2008, I likened the collection of Grateful Dead recordings available online to a vast sea in which folks needed help navigating. For a stand-alone “Not Fade Away,” try Englishtown 9-3-77. 1 No. Indeed, the events of that year seem to have both rekindled the ardor for the group’s music in many Deadheads who dropped off the psychedelic bus following Jerry Garcia’s death in the summer of 1995, and also brought in many new fans who never had a chance to see the band but are attracted by the Dead’s amazingly diverse and appealing songbook, and the colorful, upbeat, Sixties glow that will forever surround the group. The voters at headyversion.com get it right again. Such are the cruel realities of list-making. Nobody sounded quite like Garcia (often imitated, never duplicated), and the same could be said of Bob Weir, whose designation as a “rhythm guitarist” is hopelessly inadequate given the sophistication and depth of his playing. The subtext of the Bonnie Dobson–penned folk ballad could not be more dire—the last man and woman on earth after a nuclear holocaust!—but in the Dead’s hands it was both delicate and filled with heavy pathos. It's no easy task, trying to pick just 10 great Grateful Dead shows from the band's decades of active touring. Major dissonance/weirdness ensues at around 30 minutes and hits some frightening (but cool!) Available on Europe ’72 Vol. Year after year one of the most dependable tunes in the Dead’s second sets, Weir’s moody reggae number, with Garcia employing a wah-ish envelope filter, was played at most shows in ’77-’78 and was common for the rest of their history. ), a full-band jam around the main riff, and more than 13 minutes in, Phil leaps forward with the classic entrance. The contagious gait and sparkle of “Help on the Way,” “Franklin’s Tower” and “The Music Never Stopped,” all from Allah’s first side, stayed in the live sets for the rest of the Dead’s touring life. Only the Beat Club TV broadcast is kind of a dud. Similarly there is general agreement on the Dead’s peak performance periods: 1968–1974, 1977, 1981–'82, 1988–'90; you’ll find a heavy concentration of Seventies performances here. After a couple of years of “Scarlet” enlivening any set it appeared in, in March 1977 it was paired with the new “Fire on the Mountain” to become perhaps the most popular combo of songs in Dead history—it was played around 240 times. With such a respected guest in their midst, the whole band really stepped up their game. Brent-era pick: Oakland 12-26-79 (major “clam” notwithstanding). That long, strange trip was a continually unfolding tale of highs and trials, dedicated evolution and surrender to the moment, often caught vividly in the recording studio but told most immediately each night (or day) onstage. The Election Could Be a Turning Point for QAnon Believers, Here’s Where Things Stand in the Final 4 States That Will Pick the President, Kyle MacLachlan Joins — and Wins — Fleetwood Mac ‘Dreams’ Challenge, If Trump Tries to Sue His Way to Election Victory, Here’s What Happens, RS Recommends: For No Reason Whatsoever, a $24 Desktop Punching Bag. So I go back to Live Dead again and pluck this one, which has all the cornerstones I love—the crazy double-drumming, Pig at his most confident, band members chiming in on backups, and a crowd going appropriately nuts throughout. This was my next-to-last night with the Dead. And the fact is, this does go beyond 50: As you’ll see, for a number of tunes, there are second and third picks based on eras—songs such as “Dark Star,” “Playing in the Band,” “The Other One” and a few others changed radically from one period to the next (influenced by the change in keyboardists and other factors), so versions from each epoch get a nod. Recording King adds a parlor-sized model to its line of resonator guitars, Watch Jeffrey Fisher of R O G U E deliver an unfathomably heavy playthrough of Archetype, Adrian Smith: Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix “had the biggest effect on the electric guitar”, Because this year can only get weirder, here’s a tattooed Robert Fripp playing Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in a prison cell, Mr. Bungle's Trey Spruance and Scott Ian: “We’ve made the best thrash album of 1986 that nobody ever heard!“. Not only do they appear in order of popularity according to hundreds of folks who have weighed in on their favorite versions of just about every song in the Dead cannon—280 versions of “Eyes of the World,” 27 versions of “Liberty,” 59 versions of “Jackaroe,” etc.—but the site also provides direct links to archive.org’s immense vault of Dead performances, so you can hear them all in just a couple of mouse-clicks.

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