For a number of years I've been keeping a Grateful Dead notebook. Eventually, I began writing impressions and capsule reviews of shows I have in my collection. I've adopted the style Dead archivist Dick Latvala used for the sake of organization, but also as a small tribute to the man. This blog will be an online version of that notebook. Feel free to leave comments or to email me. I want this space to be an open forum for all Deadheads.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

1989-07-07 - JFK Stadium

Venue: JFK Stadium - Philly, PA
Tape History: AUD (Unknown, download here)
Release History: Crimson White & Indigo (April 2010)

Set 1
Hell In A Bucket, *Iko Iko, Little Red Rooster, Ramble On Rose, Memphis Blues, *Loser, *Let It Grow -> *Blow Away

Set 2
Box Of Rain, *Scarlet Begonias -> *Fire On The Mountain, Estimated Prophet, Standing On The Moon -> Drums -> Jam -> *The Other One -> *Wharf Rat -> Lovelight, E: Knockin' On Heaven's Door

12-29-2010: The excellent mix in this recording led it to be mislabeled as a Healy matrix, when it is actually an unknown taper's AUD. The band is up front, especially Brent, with a pulsating, in-your-face sound. 1989-1990 is up there as far as my favorite Dead eras go. John Kadlecik, the man on axe in Phil and Bobby's band Furthur, said that Bob told him that his favorite Dead period was '89-'90. I'm not sure what that says, but at the very least, it begs for more listening. For me, '89 doesn't really get started until the summer. It's true, there are some good shows in the spring (04-16 comes to mind), but there also a lot of lulls in the tours. Once they hit the big stadiums on the East coast, things started getting real.

I'm partial to the previous show this tour, Fourth of July show at Buffalo (documented in the "Truckin' Up To Buffalo" CD and DVD), more than this particular gig. The individual parts here, however, have an old-school yet forward-looking flavor, which led me to review it for the site first. Talking about first, "Bucket" and "Iko Iko" are raging. Jerry dives into the deep end in "Iko Iko," relishing the rhythmic cadence of the verses, and concentrating on Brent's Mardi Gras festival organ. Moving on to Bob's tunes, I feel exhausted. And not in the best way. I know I may not accrue much favor by saying this, but some of tunes Bob sings are intolerable. "Little Red Rooster" and "Wang Dang Doodle" among them. It may have something to do with the screeching slide playing. The ending couple of "Let It Grow" -> "Blow Away" rides a furious wave, Jerry pushing the band ahead with his quicksilver leads and solos. I love hearing Brent's harmonies in the background in "Grow." He takes an impassioned lead in "Blow Away," my favorite version of this Built To Last track. (This take was included in the 2004 reissue of the album.) A memorable end to an otherwise up-and-down first set.

Smoking "Scarlet" -> "Fire" after a lovely "Box Of Rain" doesn't make up for the odd setlist construction. Still, Jerry is burning the joint up in this sequence. "Estimated" has some meaty leads by Jerry with a very prominent Brent in the shotgun seat. It loses steam towards the end and doesn't live up to its promising potential. They segue into "SOTM," which just perpetuates the up-and-down nature of this show and somewhat stagnated energy just waiting to blow up without self-restraint. Thankfully, the old-school closing trifecta more than satisfies. The signature Phil "Other One" lick doesn't come in until the three minute mark of the tune, a good amount of frenetic jamming preceding. "Wharf Rat" and "Lovelight" end the show with a strong punch.

I don't think this one deserves a Lightning Skull, given how this early July stadium tour went. You could say that this show and 07-04 are the no-doubt highlights of the stadium run, but they don't come close to matching the Alpine Valley 'Downhill From Here' gigs a few weeks later or the Hampton 'Warlocks' shows or Miami night two or Bob's birthday gig. Those are locked-down Lightning Skulls for sure.

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