If you want to understand why people obsess over live Grateful Dead
recordings, the historic From The Vault
series of releases holds the answer. The story begins in 1991 when the band quietly and unintentionally launched a musical revolution with back-to-back live concert releases, One From the Vault
and Two from The Vault
. These superior-quality recordings of fan-favorite shows not only delighted Deadheads everywhere, but also inspired artists like Neil Young
, Bob Dylan
and Pearl Jam
to eventually follow suit with releases of their own classic concerts.
Setting a gold standard by which all other live Dead albums are judged, the From The Vault
releases heralded an astonishing 53 live albums that followed during the ensuing years, which ranged in content from complete individual concerts to compilations from specific tours to career-spanning boxed sets. Representing the pinnacle of the band's renowned archive of 2,400 live show recordings, the groundbreaking From The Vault
series' rare multi-track recordings thrilled hardcore fans and novices alike before stalling in 1992 after only two volumes.
But now the legendary series is set to return with the long-overdue third installment of From The Vault
. That the Dead would wait 15 years before putting out the series' latest chapter should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the band's longstanding policy of gleefully monkey-wrenching the space-time continuum whenever and wherever possible. And so, with characteristically charming perversity, Grateful Dead proudly present Three From The Vault.
To celebrate the From The Vault
, the band's official Web site, has unveiled a major redesign of the site. Echoing the look and feel of the popular Grateful Dead Almanac
, the extensively overhauled Dead.net reinforces the site's status as the top online destination for Deadheads. The Web site is now more interactive and comprehensive than before and completely accommodates the Dead community offering new merchandise, message boards as well as a fan forum.
Recorded February 19, 1971, at the Capitol theater in Port Chester, NY, the long heralded 20-song performance on Three From The Vault
has traveled a long road to release. Originally slated as a follow-up to the rapturously received Two From The Vault
, the Capitol theater tapes were mixed, mastered... and then, for reasons somewhat obscured in the smoky haze of time, the release got put on the back burner and forgotten for a decade and a half.
Fortunately for Dead fans, Three From The Vault
is worth the wait. Featuring Jerry Garcia
, Bill Kreutzmann
, Phil Lesh
, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan
and Bob Weir
, the concert sustains the creative momentum the band created recording their breakthrough albums Workingman's Dead
and American Beauty
the previous year. During more than two hours of music, the Dead debuted no fewer than seven brand-new songs in the first two nights of the run alone. They would all become beloved staples of the live repertoire for the rest of the band's touring life. Heard here are the second-ever performances of "Loser," "Bertha," "Playing In The Band," "Greatest Story Ever Told" and "Wharf Rat," plus the world premieres of "Bird Song" and "Deal." Some of the new tunes had an intriguing work-in-progress feel to them. For example, "Greatest Story" (still known at the time by its working title, "Pump Song") had not yet received its "Abraham and Isaac" bridge. And "Playing" and "Bird Song" only hint at the magnificent vessels of sonic exploration they would soon become.
The show was significant for other reasons as well. With drummer Mickey Hart
on hiatus, the band began developing a leaner, more spacious sound. Bill Kreutzmann, now the sole drummer, rose to the daunting challenge magnificently, as did his bandmates. This was Grateful Dead music stripped to its bare essence -- the dawning of what has been called the band's "turn on a dime" period.
One From The Vault
features the Dead's August 13, 1975, performance at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA, and features members Garcia, Weir, Keith Godchaux
, Kreutzmann, Lesh, Donna Jean Godchaux
and Mickey Hart. The show takes place shortly after the Dead finished recording Blues For Allah
and launching its own record label, and captures the band ready to celebrate.
Two From The Vault
contains an early show from the band's history and features a concert recorded August 24, 1968 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with members Garcia, Lesh, Pigpen, Weir, Kruetzmann and Hart. Taking place shortly after the release of Anthem Of The Sun
, the concert highlights the band's stunning improvisational skills at the peak of the Haight-Ashbury scene. The newly added bonus disc contains three rare tracks including a performance of Anthem
's side two - "Alligator" and "Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)" - along with the appropriately titled "Feedback."
1. Two Ditties
-The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down
4. Cumberland Blues
5. Hurts Me Too
7. Playing In The Band
8. Dark Hollow
9. Smokestack Lightnin'
10. China Cat Sunflower
11. I Know You Rider
1. Greatest Story Ever Told
2. Johnny B. Goode
3. Bird Song
4. Easy Wind
6. That's It For The Other One
I. Cryptical Envelopment
III. The Other One
7. Wharf Rat
8. Good Lovin'
9. Casey Jones